The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on November 13, 1977 · 317
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 317

Boston, Massachusetts
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 13, 1977
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knew they didn't want to do what they refer to as "the basic Cambridge gutting renovation." Instead, their goal was to maintain the first floor as a traditional colonial, restoring the fireplaces, uncovering the beautiful old windows, while adding such niceties as a coat closet and half bath in the foyer and a storage wall in the. den. Upstairs, they felt they had poetic license because it was just a rabbit warren of bedrooms. Decisions, decisions! Here's how the Barrett-Vila team worked it all out. New exterior paint color a deep warm ochre was copied from "Elmwood," the president's house at Harvard a good, fool-proof way, incidentally, to pick a color since it's easier to determine preference from a finished product than from a paint chart. To be sure the tone was right, they applied the special mix to a shingle and carried it to Cambridge to check for color. Next major decision involved relocating access to the basement from the kitchen to the newly-enclosed porch, a problem that Bob solved by adding a four-foot deep storage wall to the den, leaving enough space behind it for a generous coat closet opening out to the hall on one side and new stairs to the basement on the other side. The resulting library or den is smaller now than the living and dining rooms' basic colonial module of 16'x16', a cozy fact the new homeowners further emphasized by painting the room a rich, enveloping brick color for an intimate setting they always gravitate to when alone or with just two guests. Throughout the house, there are Barrett-Vila tricks worth noticing. For instance, Bob likes to put occasional tables on casters so they can be moved easily for versatility. In the den, he concocted a coffee table made of rug-runner brass carpet rods with an old bathroom mirror for the top, then added brass casters so it can roll out of the way when they sprawl in front of the fireplace with the Sunday paper. Upstairs, in the sitting end of the master bedroom, there's a cut-down old copper-covered kitchen table once used for pastry making but now recycled as a coffee table. Again, it's on casters so that it can be pulled up to the sofa for al fresco dining. Downstairs in the living room he's converted a little barbershop cabinet bought at the Brimfield Antique Fair for $10 into an end table by adding a marble top and once again casters. Color continuity is another subtle but effective factor in the house's success. Foyer, living room and kitchen walls are white, but the dining room is a complete change of pace, with a colonial wallpaper in brick and green, the brick taken from the ' library walls and the forest green repeating the color of the living room's deep, comfortable modular furniture. With energy and perfectionism, the house and barn today have been totally restored. Upstairs, six small bedrooms have become three large ones, plus two new bathrooms including a long skinny space 26'x 6' that houses a sauna, stall shower, closets, vanity and a separate toilet. The master bedroom has a cathedral-ceilinged sitting area with a new fireplace and a spectacular view to the woods. The renovated kitchen is so good that it should be the subject of a separate story, and the barn now has guest room and bath downstairs, with the old hayloft converted into a two- level open space where Bob keeps his rolltop desk and drawing boards. Side by side but on a level two steps higher is a contemporary L-shaped work set-up for Diana who teaches at the Harvard School of Public Health. As a matter of fact, perhaps this very work vignette is a good clue to the Barrett-Vila design outlook which sums up to an easy combination of old and new maintaining the old whenever possible for charm, character and continuity and adding the new for style, comfort and gleam. Estelle Bond Guralnick specializes in living styles both for New England and for several national magazines. DTP if n i M I i Mr 9 I mtki Removal of a bathroom that covered the window to the right of the fireplace restored the living room's original colonial proportions. Panels of old crewel add color to the 8-foot windows without competing with the simple old "curtain trim" wood moldings. American gothic secretary has same dentil trim as front exterior. Couches are bottle green and rug is dark red. 4f . J 1 11b b 'b n 'A Two rooms became one to make a master bedroom that functions as a real family room, with toys In a basket, and a cut-down table for meals In front of the fireplace. Ceiling was removed in sitting end of room but retained for coziness in sleeping area. J$$?m & . 1 1 m - i' . ". -. . Geographic center of the house is the dining room furnished with a rugged old harvest table and stripped-down old kitchen chairs. Inexpensive sheer tieback curtains dress the long windows, and the chandelier came from an antique shop in Disneyworld.

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