Coming from an older, more
traditional house where the
rooms were essentially
separate, the owners wanted
the kitchen and living spaces
in their new house to feel
connected. “We wanted a
kitchen,” says one of the
owners, “where the cook can
see into the living room and
speak with guests while
preparing food, and oversee
the children while they do
homework in the study or
play in the sun porch.”
Architect Robert Linn’s clever
use of open sightlines
facilitated this idea.
Interior designers David
Nault and Paul White of
Weena & Spook created a
magnificent and sensible
workspace that relates
seamlessly to the living and
dining areas around it. “The
kitchen literally is the heart
of the house,” says Nault,
and “its style reinforces the
early farmhouse spirit
that the owners sought
The most dazzling feature
is an island topped by a
pound slab of green
soapstone (left) brought
from a Vermont quarry by
builder Duncan MacArthur.
Glasses and plates are stored
above it on open shelves
suspended from the ceiling.
While oak floors and beams
visually unite the spaces, a
low cabinet wall defines
where living room ends and
kitchen begins and offers
another storage solution.
construction. He discovered that he preferred working with wood.
That poetic approach to building was a perfect match for Moskow
Linn, a firm known for its imaginative urban interventions (the
Logan Airport 9/11 Memorial, for instance). Its architects are also
masters of designing exciting, beautifully crafted contemporary
houses that are totally without pretension.
Constructed of white clapboards and roofed with slate, this latter-day barn is tall and narrow. The house’s overall demeanor is
thoroughly relaxed. Plain two-over-two double-hung sash windows
typify the avoidance of the fancy.
What appears simple at first is gradually revealed to be
thoughtfully complex. The house consists of two blocks: an unprepossessing rectangle facing the street (which houses bedrooms and
a study/media room) and a longer, more expansive “public” wing.
The extended flank of living space looks out over a broad stretch of
lawn — perfect for kids who enjoy baseball and soccer. But the two
blocks are not precisely perpendicular. The main wing is canted
slightly, and at the far end of the living space, the dining area and
a year-round sun porch are similarly slightly off axis. This subtle
play with planes creates visual interest without resorting to atten-tion-grabbing gestures.
The twice-bending line forms the main spine that begins with
the front entrance, passes through the living and dining rooms, and
ends up at the sun porch. So while everything is open and flowing,
a visitor experiences an anticipatory journey from formal to informal. On the exterior, the axial changes are manifested by a series of
mahogany French doors on the casual end and by a two-story glass
wall separating the two wings.
This vertical wedge of glass is a crisp, elegant device that
reminds us that this is not an updated older house. On the other
hand, the irregular fenestration might suggest that the house has
to make the kitchen (top) both a separate
workplace and an integral part of the life of
the home, architect Robert Linn turned to
Shaker sensibilities. Vertical beams mark
the line between entertaining and cooking,
between guests and hostess/chef. A small
prep sink with a sleek Franke faucet
(above) provides a fully functional
secondary workspace in the counter
overlooking the living area.