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The Transformers: Elite Design/Build Firms Master the Art of the Makeover

Cutting Edge Homes, Inc.; photo courtesy of Patrick O'Malley

Here at Boston Design Guide, we’ll never tire of seeing what the area’s leading experts in the Design/Build field have up their sleeves when it comes to extraordinary home renovations. While some might take an existing home at face value, these professionals instead see possibility, and a basis from which an entirely new form can take shape. Take a look—and, quite likely, a double take—at these exceptional renovations….

BEFORE- Cutting Edge Homes, Inc.
BEFORE- Cutting Edge Homes, Inc.

Cutting Edge Homes, Inc.; photo courtesy of Patrick O'Malley
Cutting Edge Homes, Inc.; photo courtesy of Patrick O'Malley

When a client desired a grand new look for the exterior of a 1950s Ranch Rambler, Cutting Edge Homes, Inc., gave it a complete metamorphosis, reimagining the home as a dramatic modern Georgian colonial. To impart a wow factor, the firm designed a new entryway and portico and a scene-stealing custom front door. They also removed the roof to add a “new second-floor ridgeline, two gables and a doghouse dormer” that appeared original to the home. It was crucial to maintain the historic feel of the home, right down to matching the materials used 70 years ago.

(Main image: Cutting Edge Homes, Inc.; photo courtesy of Patrick O'Malley)

BEFORE- Cutting Edge Homes, Inc.
BEFORE- Cutting Edge Homes, Inc.

Cutting Edge Homes, Inc.; photo courtesy of Patrick O’Malley
Cutting Edge Homes, Inc.; photo courtesy of Patrick O’Malley

The interiors were handled just as spectacularly. Cutting Edge Homes transformed the home’s existing kitchen, dining room and den into the contemporary, open luxury kitchen shown above. The new, 595-foot floor plan is perfect for entertaining, and accommodates a fully equipped catering kitchen and wine fridge, butler’s pantry, two islands (one for cooking and prepping, the other for enjoying) and an eating nook.

Thomas Buckborough & Associates
Thomas Buckborough & Associates

In the hands of Thomas Buckborough & Associates, an uninspired kitchen devoid of historic charm was alchemized into a feast for the senses. While the kitchen of a 1760s Colonial home was updated in 1970, the owners decided that this heart of the home lacked a pulse. To achieve this vibrant yet hard-working kitchen, they exposed the 1800s timber frame and removed the second floor space that had made for cramped cooking quarters. A home office balcony is now tiered above the space, providing a glimpse of the action and aesthetic below.

Thomas Buckborough & Associates
Thomas Buckborough & Associates

The firm used reclaimed beech flooring, etched with the scars that reveal its heritage, tinted plaster and rich patinas to both contemporize this kitchen space and link it back to the original home. Every surface was thoughtfully—and artfully—considered. Concrete counters were treated in multicolored acid washes, cabinetry was layered and textured by a decorative painter, and tile murals evoking the rural folk art style of Rufus Porter were installed as backsplashes.

Longfellow Design Build
Longfellow Design Build

The team at Longfellow Design Build are also masters of the makeover, as shown by their sparkling kitchen and bath romodels. Equal parts stunning and functional, their redesigns are always informed by the client’s taste and how they like to live. Details large and small are considered—from the floor plan and materials to appliances and fixtures—and mesh to create fresh new spaces that are as timeless in their beauty as they are smart, efficient and on trend.

Longfellow Design Build
Longfellow Design Build

S+H Construction; architectural design: Walter Mayne of S+H Construction; interior design: Debra Szidon
S+H Construction; Architectural Design: Walter Mayne of S+H Construction; Interior Design: Debra Szidon

For the renovation of a 1,500-square-foot home in historic Beacon Hill, S+H Construction was enlisted to undo what was done on an ill-conceived 1960s remodel, when drop ceilings were put in that hid beautiful plaster moldings. Save for one bathroom, S+H Construction completely gutted the home, raised the ceiling height back to its grand scale and recreated the Italianate architectural details that had been lost.

S+H Construction; architectural design: Walter Mayne of S+H Construction; interior design: Debra Szidon
S+H Construction; Architectural Design: Walter Mayne of S+H Construction; Interior Design: Debra Szidon

When the firm found the moldings to be beyond repair, S+H was able to achieve a similarly opulent look with large-scale stock wooden moldings. Magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows were restored that frame enchanting city views and the living room and office were treated to built-ins crafted with the same refined sensibility as the home’s original detailing.

BEFORE- S+H Construction
BEFORE- S+H Construction

S+H Construction; architectural design: Walter Mayne of S+H Construction; interior design: Debra Szidon
S+H Construction; Architectural Design: Walter Mayne of S+H Construction; Interior Design: Debra Szidon

The kitchen and bath, too, were given overhauls and are now virtually unrecognizable. Both were transformed and modernized—yet never at the expense of that feeling of authenticity. The windowless kitchen shines thanks to lighted upper glass cabinetry, while the bathroom was opened up—and brightened up—by its alabaster palette and exposed stainless sink design.

BEFORE- S+H Construction
BEFORE- S+H Construction

S+H Construction; Architectural Design: Walter Mayne of S+H Construction; Interior Design: Debra Szidon
S+H Construction; Architectural Design: Walter Mayne of S+H Construction; Interior Design: Debra Szidon

Platt Builders; architecture by Ahearn-Schopfer & Associates; photo by Greg Premru
Platt Builders; Architecture by Ahearn-Schopfer & Associates; Photo by Greg Premru

Outside the city, in the picturesque town of Concord, Platt Builders revolutionized  a traditional home by adding a master suite in the rear of the home, an atrium, a new kitchen, a butler’s pantry, two wet bars, guest suites, a library and a garage. A sunsplashed breezeway with an atrium skylight, shown below, is among the major renovation’s many highlights; the light and lively space connects the bedroom suite to the bucolic backyard grounds as well as the rest of the home.

Platt Builders; Architecture by Ahearn-Schopfer & Associates; Photo by Greg Premru
Platt Builders; Architecture by Ahearn-Schopfer & Associates; Photo by Greg Premru

With its sky-high ceilings and bands of windows, the master suite is also infused with light and has a look of country elegance with its beadboard detailing. As any premier residence in Concord, Mass., should, this space spotlights the landscape. Though a far cry from Thoreau’s cabin in the woods, this master bedroom does invite an appreciation for nature with its charming sitting alcove and French doors that open wide to the lawn.

Platt Builders; Architecture by Ahearn-Schopfer & Associates; Photo by Greg Premru
Platt Builders; Architecture by Ahearn-Schopfer & Associates; Photo by Greg Premru

Kells Construction, Inc.; Architecture by Jan Gleysteen Architects, Inc.; photo by Richard Mandelkorn
Kells Construction, Inc.; Architecture by Jan Gleysteen Architects, Inc.; photo by Richard Mandelkorn

For an award-winning Needham home renovation built by Kells Construction, Inc., Jan Gleysteen Architects, Inc. put the revive back in this Colonial Revival, expanding the property by over 2,000 square feet. Gleysteen, a devotee of Andrea Palladio, the Italian architect who prized statement-making entryways and symmetry, reworked the formerly unassuming façade to give it a new portico, second chimney and a four-season porch on the opposite side of the garage.

Kells Construction, Inc.; Architecture by Jan Gleysteen Architects, Inc.; photo by Richard Mandelkorn
Kells Construction, Inc.; Architecture by Jan Gleysteen Architects, Inc.; photo by Richard Mandelkorn

The rear of the home was also reconfigured, as the existing structure did little to showcase its rolling verdant terrain and bring views of the landscape indoors. No longer. Kells Construction built the property a new family room, master bedroom and a sunny breakfast room that extends from a showcase kitchen, all of which soak up that glorious natural light from palatial bays of windows.

Kells Construction, Inc.; Architecture by Jan Gleysteen Architects, Inc.; photo by Richard Mandelkorn
Kells Construction, Inc.; Architecture by Jan Gleysteen Architects, Inc.; photo by Richard Mandelkorn

Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.
Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.

Speaking of revivals… In addition to building custom homes from the ground up, Sequoia Custom Builders’ master carpenters are committed to updating structures and “fixing what needs fixing.” They deftly resuscitate weathered and time-worn framing and casing features, rehabbing residences into the attractive and well-crafted settings they were meant to be.

BEFORE- Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.
BEFORE- Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.

The team at Sequoia Custom Builders is just as sure-handed with interiors. In the renovation below, honeyed woods, interesting angles and skillful architectural millwork coalesce to form an exceptionally inviting first-floor living space. Each area flows beautifully from one room to the next, yet the wood detailing, casings and cabinetry create intimate nooks and alcoves that each have their own integrity and identity.

Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.
Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.

Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.
Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.

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