fb-pixel
Your Home | Makeovers

Renovating a Westwood home, guided by simplicity

A pared down and disciplined palette channels effortless glamour and a timeless allure.

For the dining room walls, designer Nina Seed used Sherwin-Williams Big Chill at 130 percent to deepen the color; the adjacent entry is painted in the color’s original strength. “The percentage change of the same paint color makes for an uninterrupted flow that still defines the rooms,” she says. The table, chairs, and chandelier are all from RH.
For the dining room walls, designer Nina Seed used Sherwin-Williams Big Chill at 130 percent to deepen the color; the adjacent entry is painted in the color’s original strength. “The percentage change of the same paint color makes for an uninterrupted flow that still defines the rooms,” she says. The table, chairs, and chandelier are all from RH.Caroline Maguire

The house for sale ticked off all the right boxes. It sat on a tree-lined cul-de-sac in Westwood, had room for an in-law suite, and was in pristine condition. But there were things that gave Dara and Nikitas Tsoukales pause: the finishes and fixtures, kitchen, and, in particular, the massive, double-sided stone fireplace between the kitchen and family room. The couple and their two sons would spend most of their time around that fireplace, but its rugged appearance wasn’t in line with their taste. “I didn’t have the vision to see what it could be,” Dara says.

Enter Nina Seed of Nina Seed Interiors, whose Instagram feed Dara had long admired. “Nina’s style is chic and a little European,” she says. The aesthetic resonated. “I wanted a look that felt peaceful and a little modern, with rooms that flowed seamlessly.”

Advertisement



Seed, a Westwood resident herself, established a high contrast palette in tones of black and white. It’s so restrained, the designer says, “in moments it’s almost transparent.” Newly refinished dark floors ground the now airy space painted in shades of gray. After sampling a multitude of stains — Dara initially wanted to go darker, but Seed thought ebony would feel too dark and show dirt and scratches — they settled on a custom blend that looks rich and approachable.

A glass-less lantern requires minimal upkeep. The custom wool runner from K. Powers & Company in Needham replaced one with an oversize botanical pattern.
A glass-less lantern requires minimal upkeep. The custom wool runner from K. Powers & Company in Needham replaced one with an oversize botanical pattern.Caroline Maguire

Striking black accents run throughout, starting with the glossy black front door. The handrail on the sweeping staircase in the double height entryway got the same treatment. Seed also added a runner with gray striations and lilac undertones and hung an open bronze lantern. “I love the staircase now,” Dara says.

French doors open to Nikitas’s study, which Seed simplified by painting the walls and trim a single gray color. She explains that the monochromatic treatment “envelops the room and softens the abundant millwork.” Seed also replaced the speckled black granite fireplace surround with classic Carrara marble tile to echo the new design of the statement fireplace in the kitchen. (A tip: “Using marble tile instead of a slab can save on cost,” she says.)

Advertisement



The formal dining room across the hall is particularly pared down. Cool gray walls provide contrast against the existing wainscoting and dentil molding, though those gray walls may soon change. “Dara got a bee in her bonnet about doing grass cloth in here when I introduced her to wallpaper,” Seed says with a laugh. Pristine white chairs surround a roughly hewn, reclaimed oak table that adds age and texture to the room, while a black iron chandelier with a double fringe of faceted prisms brings sophistication and sparkle overhead. “Dara is drawn to the glamour of cut glass,” Seed says.

Clear glass pendants over the kitchen island let the mosaic marble inset on the backsplash, from Ideal Tile of Newton, 
draw the eye.
Clear glass pendants over the kitchen island let the mosaic marble inset on the backsplash, from Ideal Tile of Newton, draw the eye.Caroline Maguire

The bulk of the budget was spent in the back of the house, where the couple invested in a classic white kitchen and a reimagined design for that fireplace. It now features a sleek black insert with glass doors and a Carrara marble surround against a wall of millwork. Richard Levey, principal of RBL Architects, designed the mantel, paneling, and crown molding to echo the traditional kitchen cabinetry and break up the wall’s large scale. Seed’s decision to paint the millwork the same pale gray as the walls, rather than white like rest of the trim, made it sing. “The muted color makes the architecture of the millwork into the focal point,” she says.

Advertisement



The breakfast nook recedes, so as not to compete with the new focal point. White linen-upholstered head chairs and oak X-back chairs sit around a weathered farmhouse table. The indoor/outdoor rug is extra durable, with a peppy pattern that hides crumbs. A crystal drop chandelier bounces light around the room.

Steps on either side of the fireplace lead to the sunken family room, outfitted with a gray velvet sectional from Boston Interiors. “My husband’s only concern was comfort,” Dara says, “so Nina and I sat on a lot of furniture.” A delicate open lantern adds a lighter touch as do gauzy white linen drapes that hang on dark rods — Seed calls them the room’s eyeliner.

The substantial face lift was by all measures a success. By “using strong contrasts within a very neutral palette and adding traditional millwork with streamlined furniture and modern art,” Seed says, “we took advantage of the home’s good, solid bones.”

RESOURCES

Interior Design: Nina Seed Interiors, ninaseedinteriors.com

Contractor: Creative Construction Solutions, creativeconstructionma.com

Fireplace Millwork: RBL Architects, rblarchitects.com

Kitchen: Weston Kitchens, westonkitchens.com

MORE PHOTOS

Seed painted the walls and stained millwork in the study in Farrow & Ball Manor House Gray.
Seed painted the walls and stained millwork in the study in Farrow & Ball Manor House Gray.Caroline Maguire
Abstract prints from Minted add interest in the family room.
Abstract prints from Minted add interest in the family room.Caroline Maguire
The new look for the double-sided fireplace features a crisp marble 
surround. The original is seen below.
The new look for the double-sided fireplace features a crisp marble surround. The original is seen below.Caroline Maguire
The fireplace, pre-renovation.
The fireplace, pre-renovation.Caroline Maguire

Marni Elyse Katz is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.