All Grown UpText by Stacy Kunstel Photography by Richard Mandelkorn Produced by Kyle Hoepner
A suburban couple’s house is transformed from a giant playroom to a comfortable, sophisticated home for the whole family.
For five years, Marc and Stacey Nevins’s living room served as the landing strip for a collection of toy planes.
The long, narrow room acted as runway and launch pad for missions that the couple’s two young sons routinely ran, unencumbered by furniture or lighting. The flight path continued through the dining room, which stood as the staging ground for a giant puzzle. Things might not have changed if the boys, now thirteen and ten, hadn’t moved on to other interests, and if their parents hadn’t met a talented interior designer who just happened to live down the street with his own family.
“We really had nothing,” says Stacey, recalling the early days of living in their 1940s-era home in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. “The boys just played there and it was fine.”
It was on a visit to her down-the-street neighbor, John Stefanon of JFS Design in Boston, that it all clicked for her. “His house was so warm, so elegant, so beautiful, but it wasn’t a place where I felt like I couldn’t sit down,” Stacey recalls. “I knew what I wanted for our house, but I couldn’t envision it. John came into the space and he knew exactly what to do.”
For the Nevinses, comfort, casual living, and an elegant setting were key.
A 1980s addition had expanded the great room and kitchen, but the rest of the house still had the lower ceilings and smaller rooms of seventy-five years ago. “It isn’t a huge house, but it’s very charming,” says Stefanon. “The majority of the work was just cosmetic.”
A few minor changes to the floor plan had a big impact on the overall circulation. Stefanon removed two small doors in the dining room and added a larger opening between it and the living room. He also enlarged the opening between the dining room and breakfast area and installed double doors, making it easy to seat extra guests. “Marc and Stacey love to entertain, and I wanted them to have a space where everyone could feel comfortable,” Stefanon says.
The home’s inviting feel begins in the entry, where Stefanon placed a round ottoman on a round rug under a light fixture from Studio 534 at the Boston Design
Center. The ottoman sets an elegant tone, yet beckons you to sit down and take your shoes off. “I think it sends a message: make yourself comfortable,” says Stacey of the custom-designed piece upholstered in Jim Thompson and Romo fabrics.
The original floors here and throughout the house were stripped and stained with a tinted finish the color of sand.
The palette of soft grays, creams, and white with touches of silver and gold extends into the adjacent living room. Gone is the airport hangar; now the space holds sophisticated furnishings, including a pair of C-shaped sofas that sit back-to-back like the symbol on a Chanel bag. “The half-moon sofas are absolutely gorgeous,” says Stacey. “When we entertain we can have two sets of conversations, and it allows for different ways to communicate. It’s a unique, different, and elegant way of presenting a room, and it’s a wonderful, warm place to be.”
To the room’s palette of milk and cream, Stefanon added hints of color in the accent pillows, with their patterns in chocolate and green. The piping that snakes around the Dennis and Leen armchairs and the embroidered draperies, which Stefanon says recall the feel of 1920s California, add glints of silver to the mix. “I wanted the room to be very subtle and soothing and to have this quiet glamour to it,” says Stefanon.
Grasscloth walls lend a warm feel to the dining room, where mix-and-match chairs surround the long table. Chippendale-style chairs with a crusty finish sit next to cleanly upholstered side chairs. The mix, including the head chairs with backs upholstered in a blue print, breaks the uniformity, says Stefanon. “I like seeing a marriage of different styles.”
While the living and dining rooms are the heart of entertaining, the great room and breakfast area are where the family spends most of its together time. Stefanon installed a pair of antique columns on plinths to give more architecture to the space between the kitchen and the breakfast area. The fireplace in the great room didn’t need any fiddling, but Stefanon added modern wall sconces and a circular rug and coffee table to promote flow between the open spaces.
To keep things family friendly, the white sofa wears an indoor-outdoor fabric, and the rough, unfinished wood of the breakfast table can take a beating. To soften the masculinity of the space, Stefanon installed a custom Ironies chandelier made of beads woven together in the shape of daisies.
“The kids can just beat the table up and there are no worries,” comments Stefanon. “But I still wanted to dress up the area where family comes together with a chandelier.”
For a bit of alone time, each parent has an office. Marc’s is off the entry, tucked behind French doors. A chocolate leather–covered settee sits in a niche Stefanon created by removing existing built-ins and claiming some space from the hallway on the other side of the wall. The desk sits in the window opposite a mirrored wall behind the settee. A mirrored cocktail table adds a touch of glamour, though, Stefanon notes, it still has a masculine feel. “It’s a comfortable oasis to relax and get caught up on my work,” says Marc. “It can also work for a relaxing drink with friends.”
Stacey’s office, a serene space with a large antique desk embellished with gilt carvings, sits just off the master bedroom. “I love my office,” she says. “It’s warm and inviting, and I have a phenomenal view through the bedroom window.”
In the bedroom, matching chests of drawers flank the upholstered bed and balance a pair of tall lamps. “The lamps recall something from the past, but are updated with lacquer and custom oval shades,” says Stefanon.
The room isn’t just for parents, though. “On the weekend, the boys love to draw the curtains and hop in our bed to watch a movie,” says Stacey.
It’s no replacement for their personal airport, of course, but that’s just part of growing up. •
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