A Tudor Style Home Gets a Fresh Look
March 2, 2017
A new interior and an expanded landscape plan ramp up the fun factor for a couple and their active brood.
Text by Bob Curley Photography by Robert Benson Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent
Three in the afternoon in a house with five kids under age twelve can best be described as controlled chaos. It’s a swirl of activity as children are hustled in from school, snack-sized bowls of cereal are poured and consumed, and pint-sized hockey players scurry through the halls, padded up to hit the ice.
When interior designer Julie Stein was commissioned to perform a makeover on a former college roommate’s home in Hingham, Massachusetts, she knew the job was more than cosmetic—it also had to work for a family with two busy parents and a quintet of children, including two sets of twins. Lots of kids also means lots of socializing with the families of their friends, another major consideration as the couple set about reimagining a 1919 home that, when purchased eighteen months ago, had a Tudor-style interior, with dark, heavy wood and a color palette leaning toward mustard and earth tones.
“Our vision was to create an environment that is clean-lined and modern, but that complements its traditional architecture and beautiful coastal location,” Stein explains. “We also wanted to create rooms with a lot of warmth and practicality for raising a family. We layered a variety of textures and unusual materials together in each room to give the home an element of youthfulness and the unexpected.”
The east-facing home sits on a hillside with unobstructed views of Hingham Harbor and Button Island to the front and a flat, rectangular yard behind. A short, enclosed breezeway connects a mudroom to the garage, which secures the north side of the backyard. A circular front driveway rings a decorative fountain, and the main entry opens onto a spacious foyer.
Stein’s affection for geometric forms is apparent in the entry, where the rectangular shapes in the base of the round-top table are echoed in the box-style light fixture above. Bronze rivets march in formation across the grasscloth she used on the high ceiling.
Underfoot, a blue Madeline Weinrib rug with a bold pattern lends a splash of color to the otherwise quiet palette of white and sand tones.
Straight ahead, a woolen strié runner with a wide linen binding carries the neutral color scheme up the center staircase to the second floor, where Stein has freshened up the master bedroom in shades of blue, tan, and white, with circular patterns repeated in lamps, ceiling fixtures, and side tables.
Here and elsewhere, the home’s original woodwork was preserved, in keeping with the owners’ desire to reuse rather than replace historical elements. The couple also opted to keep the previous owners’ fixtures and flourishes when they felt they suited the house. A doorbell original to the house was retained near the entry, for example, and a set of horn-stemmed Ruhlmann chandeliers still hangs in the living room.
Stein brought the long, narrow living room into scale by breaking the space into three distinct areas, tucking a grand piano into the large bay windows, creating a sitting area focused on the fireplace at the room’s center, and adding a custom-built bar next to the wide doorway that leads to the dining room.
In the sitting area, deep couches flank a Lucite coffee table that continues the clean, light feel typical of all of the redesigned spaces in the home. Low, hide-covered chairs offer ample seating around the fire. Millwork with a charcoal finish helps to delineate the bar area from the rest of the room.
In the dining room, the homeowners’ rustic dinner table and floral-patterned wooden chairs—a rare ornate flourish—drove the color choices. “The home has beautiful views of the water and backyard, so we often chose neutral backgrounds to highlight those views and added pops of color throughout,” Stein says. Here, neutral-toned grasscloth and white wainscoting define the walls, while green and coral accents are added with artwork, toss pillows, and the custom-sized Kristin Drohan bench.
In the family room, a game table, flanked by a pair of contemporary wing-arm chairs, sets a playful mood by a window, while a leather-topped coffee table can accommodate snacking or provide extra seating when the family settles in for TV time.
The kitchen also encourages gathering, with its twin islands capped with thick slabs of gray and white marble. Barstools with beachy stripes create a light, modern mood. The room’s curved bay windows make a perfect spot for a table big enough to accommodate the entire family. Its custom-built banquette, upholstered in navy faux leather, makes for easy cleaning when spills inevitably occur.
In close collaboration with the owners, Stein worked with landscape design and construction pro David Schumacher to create distinct backyard spaces: an outdoor kitchen, bar, and dining spot; a seating arrangement focused on a fire pit; a heated swimming pool; and a lawn area with ample space for the sports-minded children and their friends.
Knowing that the family spends most of the summer on Cape Cod, Schumacher’s work centered on creating gathering places that can be enjoyed during the spring and fall. An existing bluestone patio was extended to the fire pit area and around the pool. “Bluestone is not normally great for pools because it gets hot, but it works here because it is mostly used in shoulder season,” explains Schumacher.
Carpenter Mike Matinzi built spacious custom sofas for the fire pit, which Schumacher enclosed with fieldstone walls capped with black Irish limestone. The brick garage wall made an ideal backdrop for the outdoor kitchen as well as the dining area, cozied by a large wooden pergola. Matinzi also built a sliding wooden door to protect a wall-mounted TV between the bar and dining areas.
“It allows everyone to be together yet have their separate spaces,” says Schumacher. “The guys can smoke a cigar at the fire pit, the women can have a drink at the bar, and the kids can play in the pool.”
Indoors and out, this is a home that encourages play, relaxation, and—best of all—togetherness. •