A limited footprint, low ceiling heights, immovable load-bearing
walls, and a cookie-cutter facade — with all its imperfections,
the 1950 gambrel-roof Colonial-style house Katie McDonald
grew up in would have been easier to tear down than renovate.
Yet, Katie and husband Scott McDonald would have none of it.
“By working with the existing house,” says Katie, “we honored
the history of my parents’ lives there.”
Like many New Englanders who leave the region, Katie, a
holistic health coach, dreamed of returning to her roots. When
her father died a few years ago, she and Scott and their son,
in tune with their contemporary contemplative lifestyle.
The couple had lived in San Francisco and more recently
upstate New York, where they occupied a 1907 Prairie Style
house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. They wanted to get away
from the too-cozy ambience of the Wright home, but, like the
great architect, they admire Japanese culture, so they wanted
meditative spaces with “a calming glance to the ever-chang-ing water view,” a view the original house ignored. Indeed, the
building had no particular relation to its site. The delightful
the bones of the 1950
house (left) are still here,
but its new spirit is
(below). Beach stones in
the entry hall (right)
recall a Zen garden and
extend beyond the
window to the outdoors.