A Home For All Seasons

A neoclassical Brookline manse gets a major renovation — and three unique copper-clad additions.

WALKING THROUGH THIS BROOKLINE residence feels more like a journey than a stroll. From old-world traditional to classically modern, the styles change from one room to the next, reflecting the owners’ eclectic tastes and willingness to take risks.

It’s hard to imagine that parts of this dwelling were structurally questionable when the owners bought the 7,350 square-foot neoclassical home in 2004. A 1950s addition had begun to rot years ago; out back, a dilapidated carriage house was connected to the main house by a low, covered, bridgelike construction that blocked views and access to the backyard. Meanwhile, though the house sat proudly atop a steep hill, little consideration had been paid to the landscaping; the huge yard was a wasteland.

The couple, who has four children now ranging in age from six to fourteen, asked their friend, architect Joseph Kennard, to transform the neglected property into a family-friendly home. Over two and a half years, Kennard worked alongside general contractor Moss Keane of Cambridge’s M. F. Keane Contracting to reconfigure the space; remove or restore problematic elements (including a fireplace in the foyer that disrupted the flow between the kitchen and the connection to the rear yard); and then design three new structures: a guesthouse to replace the carriage house, a sunroom, and a two-story kitchen/family room.

Because the owners wanted the first floor to have the same detailing as the original house, Kennard and Keane became an architectural forensics duo. After peeling back wall-to-wall carpeting in the entry hall and living rooms, they discovered beautiful but damaged parquet flooring, little of it salvageable. Kennard worked with Oshkosh Designs of Wisconsin to re-create the intricate inlay. The same attention went into the stained-glass windows in the living and dining rooms, several of which had to be completely restored by Michael Willard of West Roxbury’s Stained Glass Works.

The couple also commissioned interior designers Heather Wells and Janine Dowling, now of Wells and FoxArchitectural Interiors, to reconcile the Victorian house with their contemporary leanings. Wells and Dowling curated the pair’s collection of vintage furnishings and complemented it with midcentury pieces like a Vladimir Kagan coffee table (from Ralph PucciInternational in New York) and a George Nelson saucer lamp (from Chimera). They also added a few whimsical pieces, such as the enormous fire-engine-red David Weeks chandelier that presides over the kitchen. In the dining room, a multi-orb light sculpture features handblown glass by artist Deborah Czeresko. Wells and Dowling created a children’s paradise upstairs with bright accent colors and plenty of built-in shelving and cubbies for storage. “With four kids,” says the wife, “we wanted everything else to be simple.”