Designer Cecilia Casagrande was literally drawn to the light when she and her husband bought their historic home just outside of Boston nearly six years ago—though it would take some serious reconfiguring to reap the full benefits of all the vitamin D it offers.
Built in 1872, the four-story Victorian, nestled in the town of Brookline, basks year-round in the sun’s glow. “We took the house because of all the sunlight,” says Casagrande. “It’s south-facing and you know Boston winters can be cold and miserable—but it’s glorious sun all day long inside this house.” The previous owners set out to flip the property by chopping up the large home to create several smaller dwellings. “They put a couple condos in back, and [moved] their kitchen and dining room to the garden level, so they really lived entirely on the lower level.”
Even with the kitchen hidden in the basement, Casagrande could see the possibilities (which required gutting the entire first floor). “I said, ‘ok, if I’m really doing this, I’m going to design my dream kitchen’,” she recalls. The existing first floor living room would become the new kitchen, but the internal transformation didn’t stop there. What was once a dining room, became the living room, and a large bathroom and small office were combined to create a “perfectly square” dining room. The former kitchen—and entire garden-level—are now home to an all-purpose space that includes a media room, a games room, a gardening area, and a dedicated gym space.
With the renovations complete, the designer filled the home with souvenirs from their international travels, family heirlooms, and fantastic flea market finds to create her family’s ultimate suburban oasis.
“We’re still very urban in Brookline, so it’s tall living. Because of that, we wanted to use every space on the main level, so I turned the hallway into another place to sit and hang out.” Casagrande found the vintage sofa on Facebook Marketplace and reupholstered it in a Christian Lacroix butterfly print fabric. The Moroccan rug was picked up on a trip through Marrakesh, and the antique chest with brass hardware was scored at an estate sale for $400. The original August Thonet bistro chair flanking the chest was a Craigslist find that she restored and painted black. Pendant Lights: Skygarden S from Flos. Lamp:Kelly Wearstler. Side Table: Gubi. Ceiling Paint: Pitch Black from Farrow and Ball.
“I have three boys, so I totally love this urban Timorous Beasties wallpaper pattern with skateboarders and kids on bicycles—it’s a great play on traditional toile,” says the designer. “The vintage cabinet was a find at Brimfield that we stuff with all our gloves, mittens, hats, and the dog’s things.” During the winter, scarves and coats usually cover the original 1953-designed Eames Hang-It-All. The vintage chair was also a flea market buy, while the rug was acquired on a trip to Mexico.
The designer kept her English roots in mind when conceptualizing the formal living room. “My father’s British and I grew up going to England every year, so I wanted a bit of that royal feel.” While one of the brass chests flanking the original fireplace was a gift from her parents, the other (an exact match) was another Brimfield’s find. The shelves are curated with a selection of books, heirlooms (like her grandmother’s Louis Vuitton Speedy bag), and mementos from their travels. Sofa: Dune. Chandelier: Jonathan Adler. Chair: Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair from Modernica. Pillows: Romo Sconces:Delightful. Pillows: Romo. Rug: ABC Home
Having spent a year living and working in Paris after college, the designer wanted her dream kitchen to feel like a Parisian bistro. The hand-crafted crackled tiles, brown grout (instead of white), marble countertops, and unlacquered brass faucet and sink add to the warmth of the space. Chandelier: Lindsay Adelman. Sconces: Atelier de Troupe. Hood and Sink: Custom by Vogler Metal Design. Pendant Light: Allied Maker. Wallpaper:Ellie Cashman, Dark Floral. Table: Sean Woolsey. Chairs: Saarinen Executive. Stools: De La Espada. Faucet: Barber Wilson.
What was once a large, dark bathroom and tiny adjacent office is now the perfect space for family and friends to gather for a meal. “I wanted to have a dining room that was separate from the kitchen, because when you have people over it’s more relaxing if you don’t have to look at dirty pots and pans,” says the designer. Casagrande matched the ceiling paint to the Kelly Wearstler wallpaper, and had Roman shades custom-made to compliment the pattern. A Foscarini Caboche chandelier hangs brilliantly above the Saarinen dining table and Gubi Beetle chairs.
The couple’s sanctuary includes two favorite pieces—one old, one new. “The 1960s armchair is by Ecuadorean designer Angel Pazmino and belonged to my husband’s grandfather,” says Casagrande. “And the absolutely beautiful walnut dresser was hand-made by Petert Deeble whose work I discovered on a trip to California.” Bedding: Society Limonta. Paint:Farrow and Ball’s Studio Green. Sconces: School House Electric. Side Tables: Peter Deeble.
The pinnacle of Casagrande’s home redesign might just be this internationally inspired primary bath. “My husband and I love to travel, and this takes us away to one of those beautiful old European hotels.” The Christian Lacroix wallpaper reminded them of the gardens outside Paris, while the shower tiles are reminiscent of the jade-colored pool tiles from the hotel in Cambodia where they honeymooned. Tile: Cle Tile for the floor and shower wall; Ado tile for the shower niche. Sconces: Areti. Cabinet Hardware: Nest Studio. Mirror: School House Electric.
“The sofa is from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, and I had it upholstered in this great Paul Smith striped velvet—it’s so soft and comfortable.” Rug: Jaipur Living. Desk: Vintage. Pendant: Nelson Bubble Pendant. Sconces:School House Electric. Ottoman: Vintage in Paul Smith velvet. Wall Paint: Farrow and Ball’s Charleston Gray. Wallpaper: Cole and Son.
A wall of windows helps to brighten the designer’s workday. One of her favorite wallpaper patterns is this archived “Cities Toile” print from Hygge & West (“I was lucky to get it because they don’t make it anymore”). The vintage campaign desk was handed down from her parents, and the bamboo chair she acquired—and painted green—from the exact same antique shop where her parents bought the desk in 1973. Lamp: Allied Maker. Chair: Eames Lounge Chair. Pendant:Nelson Bubble Lamp.
What was once the main living space for the previous owners is now an incredible set of multi-purpose spaces. The staircase leading down was painted in Farrow and Ball’s eggplant-colored “Brinjal” —a shade pulled from the tropical Timorous Beasties wallpaper. The tile flooring is from a local tile shop (“it was incredibly inexpensive”) and the copper ceiling pendant is from Mexico. The bench seat was a dining table from Crate & Barrel that Casagrande chopped-up; the legs became feet for the gardening cabinet and one end was used as the shelf above. Sink: Vintage. Tile Backsplash: Grow House Grow. Cabinet:IKEA
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