Architect: Ron Margolis, Margolis & Fishman Inc., 955 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139; 617/492-0200.
Interior designers: Dee Elms and Andrew Terrat, Terrat Elms Interior Design, 535 Albany St., 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02118; 617/451-1555, terratelms.com.
Contractor: Groom Construction Co., 96 Swampscott Rd., Salem, MA 01970; 781/592-3135.
Text by Krissa Rossbund
Photographs by Gordon Beall
Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick
The sum of Hiroko and Harry Lange's weekend getaway was even less than its awkward parts. In fact, there was nothing remarkable about the existing Marblehead, Massachusetts, structure.
Originally a modest, two-story Cape Cod built in the 1960s, the house had acquired a series of unrelated additions that increased its size but decreased its livability and charm. Harry and Hiroko, whose primary home is in Boston, knew the house would require extensive renovation. They sought the talent of Boston design team Dee Elms and Andrew Terrat along with architect Ron Margolis to turn the hodgepodge of architecture and decor into the best it could be--a grand house on the water.
"None of the additions related to what already existed," says Elms. "The variety of tastes and styles made it feel like you were walking into several completely different houses. It was Andrew's and my job to create a harmonious relationship."
What made the effort of the vast redo worthwhile was the house's choice location at the entrance to Marblehead Neck, a narrow causeway leading from the historic harbor town to a hilly enclave surrounded by water. In 2006, when the Langes bought the house, they decided to follow the footprints of generations of Bostonians who have summered on Marblehead Neck, taking advantage of its sandy beaches and views of the Boston skyline.
"This house was in a special location, with its beach and views of the Boston skyline," says Harry. "We loved the idea that we could be in such a beautiful spot in 30 minutes."
Besides establishing coherence between the original home and additions, Terrat wanted "to make the house look more like its neighbors." To that end, various architectural elements, including a new facade and a flagstone walkway, were created. Other touches--irregular outlines unified by cedar shingles, an eyebrow window, and an informal summerhouse attitude--were bestowed to help the house speak in shingle-style vernacular.
When the crew first stepped into the white entry hall, they knew they had to energize the home's ho-hum greeting. They did so by inserting gold grasscloth into existing wall panels, placing an oak chest against one wall, and hanging a chandelier.
In the great room, generous proportions enabled the team to carve out individual seating areas for conversing, watching television, and working. But first, architectural interest needed to be added. Sheathed in white horizontal shiplap paneling, the walls offer subtle texture and unify the space. A pair of sofas slipcovered in white cotton duck direct attention to the television on a newly added wall. To balance the architectural pizzazz of the front wall, heavy woodwork on the staircase and upper story bridge was replaced with a stainless-steel cable system that introduces a contemporary flair.
"The great room was huge, so just having a sofa and chair in the middle never would work," explains Elms. "In fact, the room is carefully arranged so it can accommodate a number of different activities simultaneously."
Elms and Terrat escorted the large kitchen from dark and dreary to warm and cheery with a bright palette of lipstick red and ivory. And they followed the same process they used in the adjoining great room--architecture first. An added coffered ceiling features beadboard panels and a recessed light within each coffer. The island, once a hulking presence in the center of the room, is now augmented with low banquettes upholstered and cushioned in cheerful red-and-white check.
The Langes' updated seaside abode makes the couple long for weekends. "We are thrilled with the way the project turned out," says Harry. "Now our home is comfortable, cozy, and fun--we love to entertain our friends so they can enjoy it, too."