Designing Weston Manor: A New England Architect Tells the Story Behind This Stunning Hilltop Masterpiece
Atop a hill in charming Weston, MA sits a stunning manor house, situated against a backdrop of lush trees and overlooking all that surrounds it. The home reaches for the sky with dynamic exterior architecture, and a turn-of-the-century layout defining the interior. But before the house stood proudly at the peak of this picturesque neighborhood, Weston Manor began as a promising vision by Mat Cummings, Principal Architect at Cummings Architecture + Interiors. Because nobody knows it better, Cummings spoke with us to share the story of Weston Manor.
The architecture process begins with a location
The design inspiration for Weston Manor came from the site, Cummings explains. “It’s a corner lot,” he says. “It’s a crest of the neighborhood, and the main road sits significantly lower than the front of the house.” He chose to let the existing landscaping and site elevation define the idea. He set the house high on the hill, creating privacy for the client, allowing the large green trees around the plot to set the stage for the design.
Working with the client
Cummings’ passion for architecture is rooted in creating experiential, physical artwork that complements and enhances his clients’ lives. His approach begins with creating a program study to learn about his clients’ needs and desires and to organize information about the house. “It’s a very detailed exploration of their lifestyle and daily routines, aesthetic preferences, and functional needs,” he says. This conversation can also help clients clarify and express their ideas about how they want their home to feel, such as distinguishing between a comfortable and serene environment versus an exciting and dynamic one.
After the program study, Cummings has a clear image of what the client needs and wants. “But you also have the heart of the site talking to you, as well as a creative vision for what this home can and should be” he says. That’s when he considers the existing features of the location, explaining to the client his ideas and how they can align with their needs and their lifestyle. For Weston Manor, it was the pointed gables, the modern farmhouse aesthetic, and the wraparound porch that draws people in to the center entrance to the home, among other features.
Designing Weston Manor
As far as his design technique, Cummings says, “different architects use different mediums.” “We start off with trace paper and sketches, cardboard cutouts, and thumbnails of what the house might look like. In this case, I had a clear vision for Weston Manor and I designed it over the weekend with colored markers and pencils.” That’s right—one weekend.
But, he says, if a client prefers, the design and architecture process can happen more gradually. He offers the client the choice to create what is essentially a personalized timeline, so they are comfortable with the speed. “Everybody’s personality is different, right?” he says. “So, it’s not one size fits all—we tailor how we communicate with the client in order to give them something exceptional.”
Building Weston Manor
When the house was under construction, Cummings spent time on the job site to answer questions from the builder and provide a design perspective on decisions. “It could be questions about changing the wood species on the floors,” he says, for example. “Sometimes small things change in the field from the original design intent. We can advise a direction that is true to the design and complements the rest of the structure.” During the building process, it is common for Cummings and his team to make improvements to door hardware, colors, lighting fixtures, and other small-scale details.
What makes Weston Manor second-to-none
Right away, a glance at Weston Manor reveals the care and expertise that went into its architecture process. Cummings notes that the tower is one of the home’s most characteristic features—from the outside, it asserts itself with a strong architectural statement, and from the interior it invites the homeowners and visitors deeper within the home. “The staircase wraps around the inside of the tower, and ends in a small library and seating area on the second floor,” says Cummings.
The floor-plan is also a defining piece of the design. The rooms are juxtaposed from one another, so you can’t see more than one room away from you at a time, and the house has a central spine that leads you from one end of the home to the other. The result? The house feels more expansive, and entering each room feels like making a new discovery.
The kitchen is the centerpiece of Weston Manor, overseeing the eating areas and family room, and offering views of the landscaped yard. There’s also a private office, expansive laundry room, and a mudroom just inside the garage featuring custom cabinetry.
“The front wraparound porch is a lot of fun,” says Cummings. “It’s a wonderful spot for sitting with family or friends to enjoy the view on a beautiful day, and having a cup of coffee or a cocktail.” But even when you’re not outside, the floor to ceiling windows inspired by a traditional Victorian style bring the outdoor energy inside—after all, the trees and hilltop views are Weston Manor’s very origin.
To see more Cummings Architecture + Interiors projects and start your own project today, visit cummingsarchitectureinteriors.com.This is a paid partnership between Cummings Architecture + Interiors and Boston Magazine's City/Studio