A coastal Massachusetts home is a breathtaking marriage between modern décor and old-fashioned functionality. By Regina Cole
Twenty years ago, a woman glimpsed a house along the shoreline of Swampscott, Massachusetts. She fell hard for the Shingle-style structure, originally built as a summer retreat for wealthy Victorians. When it became available 20 years later, her family pulled up roots and moved to “Spindrift.”
Before the ink on the sale agreement dried, the homeowner called Siemasko & Verbridge, the design firm that had helped her transform previous homes. Thaddeus Siemasko, architect, and Jean Verbridge, interior designer, counseled her to spend one year getting to know the house. “The light changes, you develop patterns of moving through the rooms, and you learn what you love and what you want to change,” Verbridge says.
Siemasko & Verbridge moved the kitchen location to overlook the home’s glorious view, connected the garage to the house and built an office above it, and replaced the 1960s picture windows with hurricane-level fenestration. New terraces, lawns, and a fire pit were added, as well as direct access from the kitchen to the outdoors. Underused attic and basement space became teenage digs, a gym, and a wine cellar.
The interior design, done in green, gray, and bisque, draws on the owners’ collections of Biedermeier furniture, marine-inspired art, antique lighting fixtures, and historic American quilts. Jean Verbridge took design cues from the collections. “They provide interest, color, and patterns,” she says. For example, billiard room built-ins and den walls lined with mahogany and anigre pay homage to the characteristic two-tone look of Biedermeier furniture. Chandeliers and sconces act as room jewels, while beloved oil paintings echo the seascape. The media room windows mimic Amish quilts in stained glass, while leaded glass graces others. Stained glass reappears in transoms and in the wine cellar, where wine-bottle bottoms form windows that allow light in without exposing vintages to sunshine. In a house filled with beautiful details, the novel use of glass provides special delight.
“People are drawn to the glass orbs on the newel posts,” the owner says. With clear ones on the first floor and amethyst on the second, the newel caps are an inspired grace note devised by Verbridge. “They speak of the ever-changing light outside,” she says.
The designer’s greatest satisfaction, however, comes from function, not form. “[My family uses] every room in the house,” she says, happy that the old house fits the busy life of a modern family.