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Old is New and New is Old

With many of the oldest towns in the country located in New England, it’s no surprise that the region is filled with exquisite historic homes. Thanks to the efforts of the historic commissions in these towns, along with talented architects, builders and interior designers who deftly handle respectful renovations, these architectural treasures are often preserved, with the exteriors retaining their original appearance for generations to come.

With historic homes holding such wide appeal in our region, owners of new homes often request an exterior design that mimics the look of neighboring antique homes. In some areas, it may even be required that a newly-built home keeps with the character of the neighborhood, or that the interior has the warmth often associated with vintage homes.

Renovating a historic home to suit today’s lifestyle, while respecting its pedigree, is a true art form. Making a new home feel as though “it’s always been there,” is a challenge that New England homebuilding professionals have embraced.

While the renovations in this historic row house in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood were extensive, architect Tobin Shulman and interior designer Jean Verbridge, principals at Siemasko + Verbridge, updated the spaces while retaining many of the original architectural elements, including the graceful staircases that connect the home’s five levels, the fireplace mantles and the original window panes tinged with a subtle lavender color. New light fixtures, including the chandeliers that hang in many rooms, were chosen for their vintage appeal. The home was featured in a recent episode of New England Living; photos are courtesy of the program.

In this 18th-century home in Stow, Massachusetts, architect Kevin Latady, principal of Latady Design, which specializes in historic renovations, added a small bump-out to the rear of the home. The addition created an eating area adjacent to the kitchen and the new entrance. A wall of windows now floods the formerly dark space with light. In the kitchen, the original architectural elements, such as the beams and the ancient fireplace, were left untouched.

The owners of this historic home needed to remodel their kitchen, but they didn’t want to remove existing walls or add to the home. Mark Haddad, principal of Haddad Hakansson Design, maximized the available space by choosing pieces and finishes that complemented the home’s overall look and appealed to the antique-loving homeowners.

Extensive millwork, vintage-style lighting and transom cabinets with gracefully arched ornamental muntins give this kitchen the hallmarks of a historic home. Yet, these features are all in a newly-built house. An older gentleman decided to build a full-size replica of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, and while he wanted the other rooms to precisely mimic the grand old home, it was important that the kitchen have modern functionality. The transitional design of the kitchen beautifully complements the overall home. The cabinetry was custom-made by Vartarian Custom Cabinets.

Whether working with an older home that needs to be gently brought into the 21st century or on a new home that would benefit from a touch of vintage character, today’s products, technology and the region’s pool of expert professionals make anything possible.