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Home design: Out with the 70s, in with the sleek

Greg Premru Photography Inc. photos

The house had suffered an ill conceived ’70s renovation. But while the place had choppy living spaces and just two tiny bedrooms, the owners felt the 1872 structure — located on a sizable, verdant lot in a cramped Cambridge neighborhood — was a diamond in the rough. After living in it for a few years, the homeowners called upon Chris Chan of Chan Mock Architects to increase the home’s square footage and give the rest of the house an updated feel and flow.

“The house had a very small square footprint, but were able to expand the house by transforming the attic into usable space,” said Chan, who drafted plans to transform the shallow hip roof — which reached only 5 feet at the peak — into an appealing mansard. S + H Construction reinforced the attic’s existing framing to create a cathedral ceiling on the new third floor, which boasts two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a large playroom.


“We had to do structural work on the house, adding framing elements and putting in a few beams, but overall the house had good bones,” says Alex Slive, cofounder of S + H Construction. A new sunroom was added at the back of the house that makes the entire first floor feel open to the backyard. The living spaces are airier and the second floor is now devoted to an expansive master suite.

The new aesthetic is clean-lined, with natural materials and neutral hues, but elements spotlight the home’s antique charm, including the curved main stairway and exterior brackets under the new slate roof. “There is now a modern feel inside,” said Chan, “but the old house shines through.”


A fir ceiling (above) defines the utilitarian part of the kitchen where counters are a honed slate known as Brandy Crag. Sleek white Arclinea cabinetry is broken up by stainless steel drawers and a massive range hood. Glazed ceramic Progetto tiles have a three-dimensional texture.


Front hall


The contemporary stainless steel light fixture offers an intriguing contrast to the gracious curved stairway in the front entry hall — an original element of the home.

Master bedroom sitting area

-Greg Premru Photography Inc.

Taking over another room on the second floor gave the homeowners the master bedroom, bathroom, and spacious closet they desired. A barn door that slides behind floor-to-ceiling bookshelves separates a sitting area with a gas fireplace from the bedroom.

Jaci Conry can be reached at jaci@jaciconry.com.