While preserving timeless details, one talented team brought a century-old home into the modern Era.
A shawl serves as a pop of color in the neutral dining room.
In 1927, French diplomat Larz Anderson designed a guest house, inspired by his and his wife’s travels to Santa Monica, Calif. With a red terra-cotta tile roof, adobe-colored stucco walls and cast stone entrance, the Spanish Colonial-style residence is not your typical Brookline home. However, nearly 100 years later, it is an ideal match for the new owners, who have family from Spain. All it needed was a fresh perspective. “Everything was very dark and heavy; there were big, heavy window treatments and dark wood,” says Alexandra Aquadro of AGA Interior Design (againteriordesign.com). “The goal for the project was really to brighten, clean and open everything up. My client wanted something that felt really warm and brought the outdoors in.”
The living room’s stucco fireplace serves as a stunning historical detail.
Beginning in fall 2020, Aquadro—along with R L Clancy Builders, T.A. Hatcher Architects and landscape architect Zen Associates (zenassociates.com)—opened up the kitchen, dining room and back entrance, and tore down walls to create the ultimate primary suite. One year later, the historic, two-story property was given a new, more modern, life. “The clients are a combination of very minimal and clean contemporary,” she notes of their taste. “I know my client loves midcentury modern, so we incorporated a little bit of that, but really tried to maintain a timeless sense and remain true to the property as well. Creating a balance between the two styles really helped create an appropriate feel for the historic home.”
The family room features a rug from Stark Carpet, leather coffee table and pieces from the couple’s travels.
When entering the house, visitors are greeted with a neutral-toned seating area, featuring A. Rudin (arudin.com) chairs and a minimalist hanging light from Urban Electric (urbanelectric.com). Past the beige-hued space is a blue family room, accented with clean lines, traditional styles and eclectic items from the couple’s travels. Coincidentally enough, the color was chosen before Aquadro began work, but kept due to it being one of the client’s favorite colors. The hue ended up adding an accent to other spaces like the primary suite. “Blues just blend so well with all the neutrals and warm woods throughout the house, so it was a perfect marriage of everything,” she says.The team weaved touches of blue throughout the primary bedroom.
Completing the second floor primary is an upholstered blue bed by A. Rudin, modern magnifying glass-esque hanging light from Urban Electric and Japanese artwork from the early 1900s. Past the walk-in closet awaits a bright spalike en suite, finished with bianco dolomite marble floors and a custom Jonathan Browning Studios (jonathanbrowninginc.com) ceiling light.
On the way up to the primary suite, one can pause for a view of the lush backyard.
Upon leaving the primary, one steps out onto a bridge overlooking the main living room. Below soaring ceilings, find an original Spanish Baroque-style detail: the white stucco wood-burning fireplace. Here, one can truly feel the home’s history. The designer seamlessly incorporated contemporary details, like a neutral sofa and chairs from A. Rudin, Evan Lewis (evanlewisinc.com) glass coffee table and subtly detailed Patterson Flynn (pattersonflynn.com) rug. Sets of windows climb to the ceiling, bathing the room in natural light and providing views of the lush outdoors.
The once very dark kitchen was completely transformed, thanks to an expansive picture window over the sink and other design details.
At the back of the house sits a bright, open kitchen, which was previously so dark and cramped that the client referred to it as a coffin. Now, leather Bright Chair (thebrightgroup.com) bar stools, a glass backsplash behind the stove, Caesarstone countertops and a stunning picture window adorn the space. Entertaining continues into a contemporary dining room, where the focal point is a framed black shawl that belonged to the wife’s grandmother. “She used to wear it to church when she lived in Spain, so it’s a very special family heirloom,” she notes. Needless to say, with the home’s and couple’s heritage, this property was a perfect fit.
AGA Interior Design
Alexandra Aquadro, founder
T.A. Hatcher Architects
R L Clancy Builders
Chairs, foyer; sofa and chairs, living room; bed, primary bedroom
Chairs, family room; ottoman, family room; ottoman, primary bedroom
COWTAN & TOUT
Wallpaper, powder room
Custom rug, dining room
Hanging light, foyer; hanging light, primary bedroom
WALLACE FINE MIRRORS
Mirror, living room