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Embracing a home’s history while creating livable family space

Classic and contemporary pieces mix in this Newton living room.

Michael J. Lee

The new owners immediately fell in love with the grand rooms and intricate woodwork in this turn-of-the-last-century Newton home. And when they moved in, they wanted to highlight the thick original moldings and lovely wainscot in the living room and entry hall. "Yet since they're a young family, they wanted a modern, playful vibe, too," says Somerville-based interior designer Kate Maloney Albiani. While several classic pieces tie into the era of the home, Albiani strove to give the space an updated feel with contemporary artwork, fresh patterns, and furniture designed to withstand the rigors of family life. "It's a very beautiful traditional home, and the aesthetic embraces the history," says Albiani. "But it also feels welcoming and casual."

1. Walls are painted Benjamin Moore Sheraton Beige. "It's a neutral color, but it has a peach tint that makes it feel fresh and young," says Albiani.


2. A lively, large-scale print from Natural Curiosities depicting a wave motif makes an alluring statement. "Living rooms can feel flat sometimes," says Albiani. "We wanted something that would draw you into the room, and this piece does that."

3. While the gold Bentley Churchill tufted sofa has traditional lines, red throw pillows and one in a suzani pattern from Etsy add modern flair.

Michael J. Lee/michael j lee

4. Atop the owners' existing end tables are Ro Sham Beaux lamps with white ceramic base, black shade, and gold sculptural accents.

5. An old chair was revived with a painted brushed-gold finish and new upholstery. "The Robert Allen fabric is a more modern geometric green and white print," says Albiani.

6. An oversize oval ottoman made of mohair and velvet by Lee Industries takes the place of a standard coffee table. "It's versatile and comfortable, which makes the room feel more casual. Young kids can sit on it, people can put their feet on it, and it's accessible from all the seating in the room," says Albiani.


7. A painting by Duy Huynh from Jules Place in the South End adds visual interest in a soft way that doesn't upstage the architecture.

8. The sculptural antique bench, found by the homeowners on, draws the eye to the detailed white woodwork on the stairway.

9. The stair runner has shades of blue-gray, plum, and gold. The subtle geometric pattern is very forgiving, says Albiani. "It will stand up to family living and complement the architectural elements."

10. A Madeline Weinrib rug with a graphic black and white print on a lavender field grounds the space. "The rug is zippy and modern. I love the way it contrasts with the traditional white woodwork," says Albiani.