The Owners of this townhouse, situated at the storied heart of Beacon Hill, knew the property was a gem hiding behind several years of neglect and set out to renovate it inside and out. They wished to completely reorganize the…
This 2400 SF Cambridge home began as a candy factory, built in the early 20th century. When we started the project, it had already been converted to a live/work space, but there were no clear divisions between the uses. One of the goals of renovation was to delineate these areas, so that the workspace could be hidden after-hours.
To that end, we transformed two downstairs bedrooms into offices that hide behind swinging ebonized oak panels when not in use, and moved sleeping quarters to a second level addition.
To balance and offer contrast between the new and original space, we covered the exterior of the addition in a collage of dark standing-seam metal, Shou-Sugi-Ban wood slats, and custom-painted fiber cement panels. Glass walls flood both levels with light and reinforce the “treehouse” vibe of the second level.
Floating steel and walnut stairs lead to the mezzanine, with a shorter set of closed stairs to the bedrooms and primary bathroom. The narrow mezzanine doubles as a sunlit vertical library, with seating, a TV, and a two-sided bookshelf. A soaring mezzanine ceiling creates a sense of spaciousness, despite the quirky dimensions.
Unique touches include a custom-made vanity of charred timber, rescued from debris after an earlier fire on the premises, and floating shelves of suspended steel. The main bedroom includes an en-suite soaking tub and entire walls of closets, concealed behind white back-painted glass—which allows natural light to shine through when the closets are open—and dark metallic lacquer.
The finished product is a functional and unusual home, rich in textures and modern materials, with a plethora of unobtrusive storage and an unexpected brightness. It’s a commercial space recast as a highly personal sanctuary (the owner refers to it as her"nid heureux" or happy nest) that embraces—even as it expands and rises beyond—its urbanity.