A decorative facelift and new family room rejuvenate a Georgian Colonial
If Lynn Bay Dayton's life followed the pattern of a multicourse meal, then at this point she's enjoying dessert. It all started in 1990, when she began adding just the right ingredients to a recipe for life that has made her journey one long feast. That was the year she enrolled in a classical French culinary program in San Francisco. And-pounds of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs later-that's where she not only mastered the art of making exquisite soufflés but fell in love with Bruce Dayton, who became her husband. (A professional baker from Minneapolis, he was also trained at the school.)
After marrying, the couple moved to the Boston area, where finding a home and starting a family became a priority. Happily, they discovered a luscious, tree-filled property with a mouthwatering Georgian Colonial house and cobblestone drive that exactly suited their tastes. "The minute I pulled into the drive, I knew this was the one," says Lynn. "I loved the cobblestones, and when I walked into the house and saw the light, I was smitten."
Following their move in 1996, Lynn left her job as a caterer and event planner to raise sons Alex and Conner, to work on home-renovation projects, and to deepen her commitment to philanthropy, intensifying her efforts toward a variety of causes. She's been turning up her "giving" burner ever since. "It's all about education, children, and animals," says Lynn.
In life as in cooking, sometimes the most successful projects evolve over time, with a pinch of this and a dash of that, until the flavor is complex, nuanced, and satisfying. Lynn and Bruce's renovation of their home, completed in 2009, simmered for11 years as they gathered the furnishings and artwork they love, completing numerous projects along the way.
As the couple worked on renovation plans, they learned that an invaluable resource lay close at hand-at the public television station where Lynn was a volunteer. A restoration consultant working at WGBH-TV, the station broadcasting This Old House, led the couple to professionals who could help them realize their design dreams-Design Associates, a Cambridge architectural firm, and Boston interior designer Michael Carter. In fact, Carter's work with the Daytons seemed fated.
"When Lynn and I first talked, she pulled out a file of design ideas," says Carter. "The first page she showed me was a magazine depicting one of my projects, but she had no idea that it was my design. Our relationship was meant to be."
Using pieces the Daytons already had and a color scheme that provides an effortless flow from room to room, Carter created a house high in sustenance but low in sugary extras.
The front entry leads into a neoclassic foyer reflecting the home's gracious heritage. Its dark oak floor is a gleaming foil for the graceful antique and reproduction furniture favored by the Daytons. In the adjoining dining room, a tribal-patterned rug in shades of blue underscores the space. With its fireplace and sparkling chandelier, it's a warmly hospitable setting for the dinner parties the couple hosts for friends and family and for numerous charity fund-raisers.
The living room is no show-off, but it commands attention with its sophisticated finish. The soft, glowing tone of the room is heightened by armchairs covered in a quiet geometric velvet, while pops of turquoise enliven the space's serene sensibility.
A decorative face-lift was only one part of the Daytons' redo. A family room addition provided space that was needed to accommodate large crowds during fund-raisers as well as a comfortable spot for the family to watch television.
The public spaces of the house are certainly tasteful, but the more intimate spaces are even more enticing. The kitchen is set off by a banquette, formal in execution with its nailhead trim and an attractive contrast to the casual flair of the window dressing.
The sunroom is citrusy fresh in lime green and crisp white. A zestful play of patterns comes from a gray rug woven with a geometric motif, toile drapery panels, and stripes on the cushions of a slipper chair. A nine-piece grid of oil-on-wood bird portraits created by renowned bird artist Ellen Granter stirs in a striking boost of color.
"Everyone yearns for comfort in a home," says Lynn. "It makes so much more sense to brainstorm about community needs in a house than in an office downtown." The Dayton place is indeed one of those houses that seems to be conducive to collegial gatherings where such problems are discussed and solutions inspired.
"My house is where needs are identified," Lynn explains. "And it's where I muster up the excitement to move forward."
Architect: Design Associates Inc.,1035 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 617/661-9082, design-associates.com.
Interior design: Michael Carter, Carter & Company Interior Design, 36 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116; 617/227-5343, mcarterandco.com.
Contractor: Howard Brothers Builders Inc., 267 Dover Rd., Westwood, MA 02090; 781/326-1409.
Landscape architect: Paul Maue, Paul Maue Associates, 40 Bellevue Rd., Andover, MA 01810; 978/470-2299, paulmaueassociates.com.
Photography: Eric Roth
Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick
Antique barrel-back chairs strikingly covered with "Interlochen," a geometric-patterned fabric from Old World Weavers, enliven the gentle sensibility of the living room. The coffee table (foreground) is wrapped in lacquered cloth, adding interest.
The dining room's Dennis & Leen chandelier uses rock crystals from designer Michael Carter's collection.
The family room features an array of purposely unrelated furnishings tied together by a handsome but muted tribal-style rug from Kravet.
The big arched window overlooks the garden and illuminates the game alcove, which holds a table by Lona Design and four chairs from Belle Meade Signature upholstered in ravishing red velvet from Cowtan & Tout.
In the sunroom, artist Ellen Granter's eye-catching birds painted on wood panels hang above a freestanding metal flock on a Parsons-style console table, enhancing the room's nature theme. Upholstered stools tuck under the table.
The kitchen eating area reflects Lynn's color preferences with a sophisticated version of blue and white mixed with touches of straw yellow.
In the master bedroom, highly patterned elements-the headboard, covered in "Dora" fabric by Andrew Martin, the "Richelieu" bedskirt by Holland & Sherry, and the "Damask" rug by Michaelian & Kohlberg-continue the home's blue-and-cream palette.
Crystallized snow-white glass floor tiles from Allstone add sparkle to the master bath.
The 1920 Georgian Colonial nestles into its sylvan setting.
Lynn Dayton in her office.
Nourishing others has been a running theme throughout Lynn's career and life. As a chef and caterer, she created delicious food for others to savor. Now, this foodie is caretaker to a host of others through organizations in Massachusetts, where she resides with her husband, two sons, and a handful of shelter cats. "It is kind of like cooking," says Lynn of her charitable endeavors. "You know what you like and what works well together."
And just like a dinner menu that features filet mignon one night and lasagna another, Lynn's philanthropic schedule is varied. She devotes her time to a number of carefully chosen organizations. Her love for animals has led her to positions as board member for MSPCA-Angell (mspca.org), an organization that works to prevent animal cruelty, and Lovelane (lovelane.org), a riding program that offers horse therapy to children with special needs. She also serves on the board of trustees of WGBH, Boston's public radio and television stations.
"Philanthropy has always been a part of my life and family," says Lynn. "I often feel that I get back so much more than what I give."