2018 Remodeling Design Awards
Historically Sensitive Renovation: Grand
The owners of the 1920s home once owned by Harvard University botanist Charles S. Sargent wanted to preserve the character of the historic home while also providing modern updates throughout. Any historic remodel requires care to balance the two seemingly conflicting goals of updating and restoring.
“In this instance, these homeowners were much more about the period style of the house and preserving its richness and quality,” John Day, principal for LDa Architectures & Interiors, says. “It really was about putting a smile back on some of the spaces, and anything that was updated was through the décor and not the house.”
In addition to the modern updates on the first two floors of the home, the homeowners wanted a dramatic reimagining of the unfinished third-floor attic. They presented LDa Architecture with the vision of a gentlemen’s pub on the third floor, complete with period materials, furnishings, and collections. The homeowner had a number of antiques, including two barber poles, an old gas pump, an old Coke machine, several jukeboxes, an old Western piano, bottle collections, and card collections that he wanted to display in the Tudor-style home.
“[The bar] was his idea; he is a collector and he likes the things in the house to tell a story,” Day says. “Almost all the materials up there [in the attic], he owned and he was looking for a way to display them. So, we built the architecture around them, and then we found the fireplace surround, we found the tiles, and we found the bar.”
To create the space, LDa needed to raise the interior structure to add adequate headroom throughout the attic.
“A good amount of our work was opening the space up, finding the central structure that held the roof up, and distributing it all the way to the basement. We made a few windows to get some better daylight,” Day says. “In the end, it was quite an economical way to open up a lot of space without adding on to the house. Instead of making the house bigger by expanding the footprint, we just went vertically.”
LDa added coffered ceilings and detailing to help create the period atmosphere the owners were striving for. Traditional style was emphasized during the remodel, and by integrating the owners’ furniture and vintage collections into the design, LDa was able to preserve the character of the home amidst the update.
“They [the owners] had been collecting antiques, not just furniture, but antique period pieces for years. They had a very cool collection of period lighting and gas lamps. There’s sort of a lost-era quality to the things they like—they’re finely crafted,” Day says. “They wanted old-world materials in a very old-world way.”
The bar in the gentlemen’s pub tested Day and LDa. The bar was pieced together from antique and new components from across the country in order to create the image of an authentic element. Day and his team procured the back of the bar from a man in Colorado who sold and distributed antique bar pieces, and the bar itself came from a Midwestern tavern. The elements were then married together by local craftsman. The bar needed to be lowered by crane through the skylight in the attic because it was too large to be brought up the stairs.
The judges were impressed by the character retained in the home despite the remodel. One remarked that such historic remodels can sometimes feel tacky, but the Tudor Estate succeeded in retaining the historic feel in an authentic way. The judges also noted how the project was able to take a potential challenge, the height of the ceilings, and make that an asset to the project by creating an authentic “pub feel.”
“Ultimately, we are most proud of the character of the space,” Day says. “It makes sense and there’s a warmth and genuineness to it and it really reflects the clients’ best vision.”
FROM THE FIRM:
This Brookline, Mass. estate once belonged to Charles S. Sargent, a famous botanist and director of Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum. As part of the historic Sargent estate “Holm Lea” that was parceled in the 1920s, this building was once a stable and has since evolved into a charming Tudor-style home. Wanting to preserve the home’s historic character, our clients asked for help in updating the interiors throughout the home and for help with a more dramatic renovation on the third floor. Being avid antique collectors, our clients wanted to turn the raw, unfinished third floor attic into a gentleman’s pub, decked out in period materials, furnishings and showcased collections. Creating this space required some ingenuity - raising the interior structure to add enough headroom, replacing an existing laylight and restoring the existing skylight were just the beginning.