Lifestyle

design

Adding a little character to a contemporary home in Brookline

In the family room, the existing firebox was removed and the surround was replaced with El Dorado stone veneers that extend from the floor to the ceiling.

Shelly Harrison

In the family room, the existing firebox was removed and the surround was replaced with El Dorado stone veneers that extend from the floor to the ceiling.

Prior to moving into this newly built home in Brookline, the homeowners lived on Beacon Hill in a house that had been built in the 1700s.

“They were used to living in an old home with unique, aging wood and other period elements,” says Mark Philben, project development manager for Cambridge-based Charlie Allen Renovations.

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While the owners were quite fond of their new, modern home, it felt a little too contemporary for their taste and they sought to add some traditional character. The couple, who wanted the interior of the house to incorporate a coastal flair, worked closely with Philben to add architectural elements with a time-honored feel.

In the family room, which opens to the kitchen, the focal point is the large wood-burning fireplace. “It was initially very ugly, with an odd mosaic tile surround that was overly contemporary,” says Philben. The existing firebox was removed and the surround was replaced with El Dorado stone veneers that extend from the floor to the ceiling; the old hearth was replaced with Silestone.

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Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the updated fireplace is the mantel, which was created out of a 100-year-old ladder that was used at an old dock in South Boston.

Philben discovered the timber at Long Leaf Lumber in Cambridge and when he showed it to the owners they agreed that it would resonate perfectly with the coastal antique feel they were hoping to establish in the room.

“The wood has a driftwood feel to it, which brings in the coastal element,” says Philben. Since the ladder was over 12 feet long, there was enough wood to create a bench for the room; on the bench, you can see the old ladder rungs.

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The maple floors in the kitchen and family room were refinished to a lighter tone and the trim and moldings were painted bright white; pale blue walls keep the space feeling light and airy. A custom sofa is upholstered in blue-gray JAB fabric, the adjacent chairs are upholstered with blue Duralee fabric with white piping. The space now has a clean aesthetic, a subtle beach house appeal, and anchors to the past.

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