Project Reveal: Concord Carriage House
Located 20 miles northwest of Boston is the historic town of Concord, Massachusetts. In its heyday, this iconic New England village served as home to 19th-century literary legends like Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott.
Today, Concord maintains the quintessential New England charm that Emerson and Alcott would have enjoyed, and many historic homes in the area have been well-maintained or restored to their original splendor. Our Concord Carriage House project is one such home.
This shingle-style home was originally built in 1885 as a carriage house. Having been completely restored and expanded between 1997 and 2005, the home now offers nearly 4,000 square feet of space for entertaining, gathering, and relaxing. Our empty-nester clients moved to Concord in 2019 after raising their family in a historic home located on the North Shore of Massachusetts. They enjoyed the familiar, antique feel of the Concord carriage house, so celebrating its character and history was a critical part of our mission.
Our design team is no stranger to working with historic homes, which for us means striking that careful balance between achieving the look and feel our clients desire while honoring the spirit of the home’s original era. To do so, we took visual cues from the home’s architecture, and embraced a fresh take on traditional interior design.
Leaving the North Shore home where their children were raised was, naturally, a difficult choice, so it was important to our clients that their new spaces feel as much like “home” as possible. “What I love about that house is that it’s so family-focused. Every piece of art and every object has a story,” says Corinne Acampora, Founder & Principal Designer at Acampora Interiors . “The Concord Carriage House project is all about embracing our clients’ family history; borrowing that from their old house and infusing it in their new house.”
After meeting with our clients to establish the vision for the spaces, we understood that the overarching look and feel of each space should be cozy, calm and serene; a true respite from the frenzy of the daily grind. It was only natural then that we looked to Nantucket, Massachusetts for design inspiration — an achingly calm, coastal locale that’s near and dear to our clients’ hearts. To evoke a tranquil island atmosphere, we envisioned a color palette that echoed the natural hues of sandy dunes, weathered driftwood, and frothy ocean waves. This meant embracing light neutrals and soft, whispering blues.
Beyond channeling Nantucket’s relaxing atmosphere, it was equally critical that the home be a family-friendly environment. With many children and grandchildren in the mix, it was important to our clients that each space felt just as comfortable for adults as it felt for children. We approached each room in the home with these two goals at the heart of every design decision.
At the heart of the home lies an open-plan great room with an abundance of picture windows, a fireplace flanked by custom built-ins, and exquisite hardwood flooring. For this breathtaking first floor space, it was all about placing an emphasis on gathering.
This dual-purpose space is designed for jovial family meals, so investing in an extending dining room table to accommodate large parties was a must. For a fresh take, we combined wooden Arhaus side chairs with two upholstered wingback chairs for the heads of the table — a classic shape with a modern twist.
On the opposite side of the great room is the formal living room. With large family gatherings in mind, we originally envisioned two sofas facing each other for abundant seating. Ultimately, we decided it felt too formal for a family-focused home and instead opted for the coziest A. Rudin sofa (with a textured neutral GP & J Baker fabric) and accompanying swivel chairs featuring a durable Lee Jofa performance fabric.
For extra seating, we folded in two Ballard Designs Nala stools in a lovely blue, taupe and white pattern to accommodate larger gatherings where additional seating is needed.
Located just off the great room is the home’s kitchen, which features an eat-at island and walk-in pantry. The kitchen was completely reinvisioned by residential architect Chip Dewing of DSK | Dewing Schmid Kearns to create a longer island for casual bites — or a place for grandchildren to eat breakfast after a weekend sleepover. KVC Builders brought that vision to life.
The room itself is an architectural gem with a curved exterior wall, and we worked with Makkas Drapery to design custom window treatments to adorn the curved space’s windows. A lovely Lee Jofa diamond pattern fabric was selected in blue-gray tones for soft roman shades, with semi-sheer properties to allow natural light to filter in for a bright and airy feel.
For a clean look, we opted for Benjamin Moore Linen White for the walls — a classic shade of white paint — and Benjamin Moore White Dove for the ceiling. Cabinetry was also painted a clean shade of white with polished nickel knobs and pulls from Restoration Hardware. For island lighting, we sourced a trio of pendant lights designed by Thomas O’Brien, to offer visual interest with modern sensibility.
On the second floor of the home, the master suite consists of a gracious master bedroom, a walk-in closet, and an adjoining master bathroom. The bedroom features stunning french doors that open to crested treetops on a wooded hillside; an idyllic setting for a truly restful oasis.
To create a dreamy private respite for our clients, we leaned into soft blue tones and crisp, clean whites. We turned to Serena & Lily’s Savoy embroidered duvet and shams (in the “Sky” colorway). For the walls, we sourced the loveliest Thibaut wallpaper in a gray herringbone pattern for a bit of visual interest.
But the true pièce de résistance of the master bedroom is no doubt the window treatments — custom fit in a space that previously had none. Each of the doors and windows were different sizes due to variance in the historic home’s construction and the curvature of the ceiling — a tricky task to measure and fit.
It was a complex puzzle expertly solved by Manny Makkas of Makkas Drapery. In the end, individual, motorized blackout panels were custom fit for each of the glass sections as soft roman shades in the loveliest Ralph Lauren Les Baux Damask Pearl fabric.
Working with a historic home comes with countless charming details, but not without at least some logistical challenges. One of the biggest: that the word “level” becomes a relative term.
A product of both natural aging and settling of a home — as well as the simple truth that builders have far more sophisticated and accurate tools to work with in modern construction — meant that some walls and ceiling lines just didn’t meet up at natural places. Virtually everything was uneven; ceilings slanted and tile work in the bathrooms needed to be painstakingly placed to make the fit as straight and accurate as possible.
There were a few other logistical challenges in renovating the master bath, owing to the home’s historic charm. There was an original leaded glass window in the master bathroom that looked out not to the home’s exterior, but to the staircase that connects the home’s first and second floors. We dressed this internal window with a sheer fabric in a pretty pattern – one that provides adequate coverage for privacy while allowing natural light to filter through.
Guest Bedroom / Child’s Bedroom
When you are a grandparent, it comes as no surprise to learn that your most frequent house guests are often your own grandchildren. We worked with our clients to create a vision for their guest bedroom — a magnificent second-floor space that mimics the same architectural curvature seen in the first floor kitchen.
With an expansive, curved bank of windows nested within neighboring trees, the experience of being in the room genuinely feels like sitting in a treehouse. (We dare you think of anything more fun than the idea of designing a treehouse.) We created a concept for this whimsical space to function as a magical experience for our clients’ littlest houseguests, while leaving enough versatility for the space to fit within the spirit of the rest of the home.
To achieve a look to grow with, we created a color palette that offered subtle feminine details while otherwise remaining clean and sophisticated. We sourced a blush-toned upholstered headboard by Suzanne Kasler, complemented by soft, scalloped details in the custom drapery, fixtures, and dresser silhouette. The home’s architectural curves lend a natural space to create a cozy, sunny reading nook with an elegant bed bench for young bibliophiles to enjoy for years to come.
The den was envisioned to double as a home office for our clients as needed, but also to provide a casual family space where grandchildren could watch a movie, play games, and cozy up with family. This included sourcing a Lee Industries sectional for gathering, an A. Rudin swivel chair for the ultimate cozy nook, and a tufted cocktail ottoman sourced from Perigold to double as a coffee table.
We dialed up the saturation for this casual space, leaning into deeper ocean blues and a dapper Clark & Clark plaid fabric for the space’s throw pillows to offer a more masculine aesthetic.
Embracing the home’s historic charm, creating a comfortable, lived-in feel, and envisioning family-focused spaces were the goals that guided every design choice we made for this 19th-century home. Our hope is that these spaces will serve as the backdrop for countless family gatherings for years to come.