Project Info

Architect: Treffle LaFleche, Matthew Simitis / LDa Architecture & Interiors, Cambridge, MA
Contractor: Michael Resteghini / F.H. Perry Builder, Hopkinton, MA

Priorities

• Create a spacious mudroom and playroom
• Bring in more light

Solutions

The Italians call it piano nobile, a raised main floor of a palazzo that provides a sense of grandeur and elegance. Many old Boston townhouses have this feature, including the circa 1815 North End home in this remodel. To keep that aspect but gain access to the basement level, architect Treffle LaFleche cut back the main floor of the front entryway and inserted a stairwell. (He eliminated the existing basement stairwell in the middle of the house.)

The front windows now allow borrowed light to drop into what was a low-ceilinged windowless space. F.H. Perry Builder lowered the basement floor in what LaFleche describes as “a series of structural gymnastics.”

The need for a railing became an opportunity for the clients to commission an artwork. With 34 pieces of custom-cut layered textured glass supported by a custom steel stair railing and framework, the sculpted “screen” captures and refracts daylight and is a work of art. “It’s the very first thing you see as you step in the front door,” LaFleche says. “It completely enlivens the arrival experience.”

The new mudroom is outfitted with a custom concrete-topped island that houses a refrigerator and freezer drawers, dry storage, an umbrella rack, and wrapping paper storage. There’s also a large clean-up sink and abundant storage for everything from shoes to bags to skis.

Judges’ Comments

The judges felt that the whole house is well done. Details are crisp and clean, and the new stairwell that leads straight to the basement brings in much-needed light. The judges felt that the project is perhaps slightly finicky, but is interesting in its use of custom details and good craftsmanship.

Products

Countertops: The Slab Lab Concrete Studio, custom
Flooring: Giordano Custom Concrete, custom stain
Interior doors: Tradern Fine Woodworking, custom
Kitchen cabinets: Tradern Woodworking, custom
Kitchen plumbing fittings: Julien
Lighting fixtures: Lightolier
Paints/stains: Benjamin Moore
Refrigerator: Sub-Zero
Windows: Hope’s Windows
Other: WovenSteel, stair rail; Bendheim, glass screen