Turning an antique house in Duxbury into their dream home
Traditional design wasn’t quite right for a couple with three young children. Their color-happy designer was up to the task.
Lindsey and Will Burghardt found their dream house on their way home from the shore. After a Duxbury Beach excursion with their children, now ages 2, 4, and 7, they passed a stately white clapboard house with black shutters — and a “For Sale” sign in front. “We liked Duxbury a lot and had talked about how nice it would be to live there,” recalls Lindsey.
The house stuck with them as they returned home to Milton. “It was set back from the road that winds from the shops toward the beach,” says Lindsey. “I loved how the trees framed the house; it really seemed special.”
It wasn’t long before the couple were exploring the interior. While they were drawn to antique homes, they didn’t like the choppy layouts common in historic architecture. Fortunately, an expansive renovation had been done several years earlier that reworked the configuration of the 19th-century home.
“It had the open floor plan we needed, a really functional kitchen, and we could open the door and the kids could just run free in the yard,” says Lindsey. “The house has old charm with wide plank floors. It feels cozy, without the broken-up feeling of an old house.”
Now it just needed some color. The Burghardts contracted with Milton interior designer Beth Bourque to create the aesthetic. “I wanted the house to be beautiful and cheery,” says Lindsey, “and also a place where the kids can run around and I don’t have to worry that the beautiful design will be ruined.”
Bourque started with the living room, using a neutral scheme based on photos Lindsey had pulled from magazines. “It turned out beautifully, but after it was done, Lindsey realized it wasn’t really what she wanted after all,” says Bourque. “It sort of looked like it belonged in a house with a couple who doesn’t have kids.” After that, Lindsey let Bourque run with the project.
“It was kind of crazy — she said she wanted me to surprise her,” recalls Bourque. “She’d give me a budget, and her first time seeing what the room was all about was when it was installed. I’ve never had a client do the surprise element before. There was a major trust factor involved.”
The house is now an eclectic mix, says Bourque, each room a different color with a distinctive character. In the den, the whole family piles together to read or watch movies on a new green velvet sofa. Multicolored ottomans were selected for their durability. “Kids use the room, so there is no way they aren’t going to get dirty,” says Bourque. “But with the busy print, they still look fantastic even when they have some stains.” A banjo on the wall alludes to the music the family enjoys playing together.
Upstairs, blue dominates the extra-large master suite. Decorating the expansive space was tricky. To make it feel cozier, Bourque opted to paint the walls a deep navy; the wall behind the bed is covered with a Serena & Lily paper in a blue, white, and orange print. “They have a queen bed, and it seemed very small against the large wall, so the wallpaper provided a focal point,” says Bourque. Wall-mounted sconces above the bold orange night stands by Wisteria take up more of the space than table lamps would.
Bourque worked to stretch the budget, selecting most of the home’s furnishings from retail sources, not high-end designers. “I looked for things that were right for a young family as well as for the architecture of the house,” she says. For example, while at the flea market at the Marshfield Fair, an antique pedestal table in rough shape caught her eye.
“We’d been looking for a round table that could seat six for the dining room,” says Bourque. She bought the table for $300 and took it to Masterpiece Woodworks in Avon, where it was overhauled and refinished for $600. “It has an antique patina to it, but it doesn’t seem too precious to use,” the designer says. “All told, I spent $900 on the table; I’d never be able to find a new one [of that quality] for anywhere close to that price.”
One of the most appealing things about the home is that it has lots of spaces that accommodate the whole family, but there are also spots that are personal to each member.
Seven-year-old Emmett’s room is on the third floor, where the previous owners watched television. A poorly designed built-in desk was removed to make way for twin beds, which had been in Lindsey’s childhood room. (Bourque hired a delivery service to truck them from her parents’ house in Florida.)
Here, peaceful neutrals contrast with the riotous colors of the downstairs rooms. After the walls were painted, Bourque hung framed prints of Lego figures she found on Etsy; a Moravian star pendant makes lovely patterns on the wall at night. “It’s a cool little loft space — Emmett loves it,” says Lindsey. “My husband calls it his boy cave.”
Jaci Conry is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.