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Home design ideas: Simple goes a long way in a living room

A spacious, unfussy sitting room in Weston wows with quiet simplicity.

Before this 1964 addition to a 1938 Colonial was reworked and turned into a sitting area, there was a laundry room in a corner and a low ceiling.
Before this 1964 addition to a 1938 Colonial was reworked and turned into a sitting area, there was a laundry room in a corner and a low ceiling.Jared Kuzia Photography

Before Michael Kim of MK Architecture and David Cohen of Hampden Design + Construction reworked this 1964 addition to their client’s 1938 Colonial in Weston, there was a laundry room in a corner, a low ceiling, and limited access to the yard. Nothing about the space felt right. After taking the room down to the studs and simplifying the shell, the pair created a tranquil sitting room with an inconspicuous backdrop of built-in bookshelves and a focal point-worthy fireplace. “Now the room looks like it’s supposed to, like it’s always been this way,” Kim says. “That was the point, that was our assignment.”

1. A rug with Eastern flavor from Dover Rug & Home provides subtle color and a pattern that echoes the homeowners’ international sensibilities.

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2. Deep blue Pumpkin chairs by Pierre Paulin for Ligne Roset are a sculptural statement that balances the heft and neutral color of the sectional.

3. Kim designed the bookshelves, which he calls the room’s “supporting actor,” to be as visually quiet as possible. “They’re not meant to call attention to themselves,” the architect says. “Their function is to highlight the homeowners’ artifacts and books.”

4. Cohen refaced the stone veneer chimney with 11-inch-wide white oak boards divided by skinny strips of ipe set within aluminum channels. “We originally tried oak floorboards, but the effect was too busy,” Cohen says. “This has the same organic texture, but looks much calmer.”

5. Thomas D. Mangelsen’s limited-edition photograph of a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park hangs over the fireplace and a Native American peace pipe rests on the mantel.

6. The curved design of the burnished, hand-forged steel Switchback pendant by Hubbardton Forge was inspired by Vermont ski trails. Cohen replaced dated recessed lights with energy-efficient LED ones.


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