A meandering river, a short walk to town, and a neighborhood replete with kids on bikes enticed Amy Casher and David Seibel to buy the Concord property they now call home. That they didn’t love the house—a 4,240-square-foot, six-year-old construction that was fairly traditional both inside and out—was beside the point.
While the home’s exterior was lovely, boasting wide covered porches across the front and back, things inside didn’t feel quite right. The interior detailing was staid, the main living spaces were awkwardly proportioned, the layout was pinched, and those magical views of the Sudbury River out back were limited. The couple, who’d just left their too-small condo on Boston Common, wanted an altogether airier experience.
Casher, a jewelry designer with a studio in SoWa, and Seibel, a conflict-management consultant, have modern tastes, a strong sense of aesthetics, and the desire to delve deep into the design process. Drawn to its facility for blending traditional and modern styles, they hired Lexington-based design-build firm Feinmann to execute their vision. “Peter [Feinmann] and Barney [Maier] quickly helped us to articulate our interests and generated ideas to meet them,” Seibel says. Those suggestions turned out to be the project’s big ideas.
The house needed help right at the start, with a staircase set much too close to the front door compromising any sense of graciousness that could have been. “You were practically impaled on the newel post when you stepped into the entry,” Maier says. To mitigate the confrontational welcome, Maier redesigned the newel post and balusters and pushed back the post to the stairway’s first riser. “It’s a minor adjustment that makes a major impact on the initial impression,” he says.
Maier also widened the opening into the sitting room on the left, making it feel more spacious. Interior designers Dorothy Deák and Mika Gilmore Durrell—who worked closely with Casher to choose playful furnishings with clean lines throughout the home—assembled a perky gray sofa from Joybird, a marble-topped oak coffee table by &Tradition, and an asymmetric rug by Nanimarquina.
A series of custom ash veneer cabinets with an integrated fish tank (a must-have for Seibel) eases into the living room, where Maier implemented the project’s most significant changes. He closed up the space’s double-height ceiling, a feature he says made the house seem like a “wannabe-McMansion.” “What was ailing the house,” Maier says, “was what the builder likely thought was its great attribute.”
Not only did the fix transform a grievously awkward space into a beautifully proportioned one, it created additional square footage on the second floor, allowing the couple to enlarge the master bedroom—a major item on their wish list. Maier swapped existing mullioned windows and sliding doors with floor-to-ceiling glass sliders that open the living room to the back porch and a view of the river. He also replaced the traditional fireplace with a contemporary three-sided gas model that separates the living room from a newly created playroom, designed for the couple’s two young children.
While Maier conceived the overall fireplace design, Casher and Seibel worked closely with Deák and Durrell to refine its details. Inspired by a photo of a dining room in an Umbrian factory conversion by Italian designer Paola Navone, they devised an asymmetric arrangement of hex tiles that Feinmann installed around the fireplace, flush to the original wood floor. The black granite ledge and inset wood shelving provide definition and play off the capacious black leather Roche Bobois sofas.
The kitchen got a whole new look, too, now featuring white Shaker-style cabinetry, white macaubas quartzite countertops, and a reconfigured island with a live-edge Claro walnut top. The couple worked with Jamie Cumming of Loki Custom Furniture to find just the right piece. “We were obsessed with having an organic element in the kitchen so it wouldn’t look cold,” Casher says.
Upstairs, Maier laid out a new master bedroom suite, using the extra square footage gained from reconfiguring the living room to create a glass-enclosed sitting area. Its dreamy, cloud-like wall covering and a hanging rattan chair illustrate Casher’s artistic style, while the minimalist master bath with streamlined custom cabinetry and skinny stacked wall tile is representative of Seibel’s everything-in-its-place aesthetic.
At every turn, whimsy and order strike a perfect balance. It’s the result of countless iterations by folks who sweat the small stuff. Ultimately, Durrell and Deák point to their clients’ relationship as the tipping point. Deák says, “Amy and David were very sweet about letting each other’s personalities shine through.”
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