A gut renovation over the years in Charlestown ends beautifully
As their family grew, two architects redesigned their town house around them.
By Marni Elyse Katz
Tired of renting and ready to tackle their own project, Marley and Isamu Kanda purchased an 1855 three-story brick town house in Charlestown in “as is” condition from a family that had occupied it for three generations. That it had barely been touched in 35 years was a major plus to the Kandas, now principals of their own firm, I-Kanda Architects. The couple — who met as architecture students at Harvard Graduate School of Design and got married and became the parents of two boys, Taizo, 4, and Genji, 2, in the years since — spent the last seven years renovating the place.
During the process, they’ve had their kitchen in four different locations, slept in three different bedrooms, and bathed in five different bathrooms while other rooms were in various states of demolition or repair. Isamu, who grew up in fixer-uppers around Central Square in Cambridge, says, “There were so many thresholds between constantly shifting zones — to say the project was fluid would be kind.”
They started from the top, completing much of the construction in the early years themselves. Somerville-based Brite Builders took the lead once Taizo became mobile, making living amid a construction zone much trickier to manage. The transformation involved gutting the interior and peeling back multiple layers of finishes to reveal glorious original elements, including plaster crown moldings, pumpkin pine flooring, and marble fireplaces that had been painted over.
Although they completed a set of plans within a month of the purchase, as they lived in the house, their needs changed and new ideas surfaced. The result is a warm and modern family home that blends the pair’s contemporary tastes with historic highlights unearthed from and inspired by the original structure. “There’s always the desire to do things quickly,” Marley says, “but our finished product is richer because it evolved slowly over time.”
BEFORE THE RENOVATION
AFTER THE RENOVATION
Marni Elyse Katz blogs about design at stylecarrot.com. Send comments to email@example.com.