THE YEAR AFTER THE 1917 REVOLUTION THAT UPENDED his country, Russian abstract artist Kazimir Malevich painted White on White, a radically austere work that challenged the status quo. A white square on a white square, it raised the question: Was this art? Over time, however, it has come to be celebrated for what it really is: a stripping back to essentials and a signal break with the past. Lisa Kauffman Tharp’s new house in Concord, Massachusetts, is also white on white — its pure New England white exterior enveloping a warm white interior. It, too, rep- resents a break with the past, both for her and for the way we usually build our homes.
Kauffman Tharp, who runs her own eponymous interior design firm, and her husband, Sam, an Internet marketer,
had been renting for years, looking for land on which to build
their dream home. When a tired postwar ranch on a small
lot within walking distance to Concord’s center came along,
Kauffman Tharp had been suffering from mold and
chemical sensitivities ever since working in a mold-infested
office building in the 1990s, and she knew they’d need a
not-your-average team to help design and construct a home
where she could live free of airborne irritations. ZeroEnergy
Design (ZED), a green-focused architecture and mechanical
design firm in Boston, used engineering rigor to devise a
replacement structure without forced-air heating or cool-
ing (“The ducts are where the bad stuff grows, and the air
spreads it around,” says Kauffman Tharp) or off-gassing mate-
rials that was also highly energy efficient.
a modern take on the New England
farmhouse (above), the building has
no extraneous details and is built to
last with a gray metal standing-seam
roof and cementitious clapboards.
Seen from the office, the dining room
(right) is punctuated by a fresh take
on Windsor chairs from Hudson
Wellesley. The oil is Two in the
Dunes by Jim Holland, from Powers
Gallery in Acton, Massachusetts.