Wednesday, January 6, 2010

An 1826 Cambridge Workman's Cottage

Cambridge is a famous historical area of Boston. Today it is the home of Harvard and MIT, with trendy shops in Harvard Square. A beautiful area along the famous Charles River. But in 1826 Cambridge was famous for glassmaking. It was one of only three areas in the US that was producing glass, competing with England, which was the prominent glass producer of the time. Glass Workers in those days were apprenticed and generally in need of housing. When my friend Leonard, mentioned the history of his house I was immediately excited to visit. Leonard's house is one of six attached Row houses, or Workman's Cottages. They are on Cambridge's Historic Preservation Registry but are not as heavily bound by the restrictions as other designated historic areas. As such, Leonard has been able to move walls and renovate in way that truly brings out the flavor of this interesting old building. In anyone else's hands this building could have been ruined, but with Leonard's thoughtful eye and talent the results are fabulous. Let's have a look!
As you walk in the front door you enter the Great Room. Walls of exposed brick run along on one side of the room. Notice the incredible original ceiling beams.
Here is a closer look at the kitchen. The windows look out to a wonderful large courtyard and brick patio which I will show below. I was brought in to help Leonard decide once and for all if we should pop out the counters and put in soapstone. We are working right now to find the perfect stone for his kitchen. It will be a fabulous improvement. Notice his lack of upper cabinets, this clever design adds to the open feel and airiness of the space.
The original fireplace and brick oven on the right are in working order. Can you begin to imagine how many meals have been cooked by this fire over the past 180 years? I love the artwork that a friend of Leonard's painted. (he promised me he would lower it on the wall)
Leonard's mix of old antiques, industrial and painted pieces lend just the right feeling to this already fabulous space. He has done a great job of finding antiques with enough character to stand up to the wonderfully strong character of the home, without over powering it. Leonard has a gifted eye for antiquing. I have been lucky to spend time shopping at Brimfield with him. Notice the wide floor planks. This first floor area is Leonard's entry, kitchen and dining area.
Walking up to the second floor we see the results of his recent renovation. Leonard moved a wall and added full walk up stairs to the attic. By doing this, Leonard was able to create a Family room from one of the two bedrooms on the second floor.
Again the exposed brick walls add a special charm to the space. The old window in the the right corner turns into a wonderful art piece at night with addition of a small light in the back to illuminate the hand blown glass. This is a creative way that anyone can add architectural interest to dark corner of a room. Great idea, Leonard!
Renovating the attic and adding a dormer allowed Leonard to add a master bedroom suite to his home. You can see the dormer windows above which now houses Leonard's office nook. I love the antique tin moulding made into a shelf and the antique apothecary bottles which are sitting on top.
The natural contours and design of the original brick lend itself to be a perfect headboard. Notice the grainsack pillows - the gold stripe is rare and hard to find.
Using every bit of available space Leonard even created a small closet under the eaves.
His new master bathroom is to die for! Here is a shot of the back of the house. You can clearly see where the dormer was added to increase the size of the master bedroom and make the office nook.
Finally a closer look at the brick courtyard off the kitchen. This amount of property in Cambridge is unusual and Leonard has done a wonderful job of making it a wonderful outdoor entertaining space.
Thank you, Leonard for letting us tour your beautiful home - we will be back in month or so to see the new soapstone in the kitchen!

30 comments:

  1. i think I just erased my comment...... but this is a great house to live in especially in Cambridge which i am very fond of. My first house was in Marshfield,South of Boston built in 1668...I had such fun restoring it. I really love antique houses with their unperfections and character

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  2. Gorgeous...enjoyed the tour! ~Liz =)

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  3. The flavor of this house is definately
    intact. I always have such appreciation when a historic structure is given a modern touch without destroying the history or charm. Kudos to both of you for understanding when to say when! Great post.

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  4. This is so charming - I used to live right across the river from Cambridge in Harvard student housing, and would walk across the bridge every day and take the 'T' to work.

    I love what your friend has done with his home - preserving the integrity of the architecture, yet adding 21st century needs. Your comment about the meals that have been cooked in the fireplace really appealed to me - sometimes I will see an antique mirror, or walk up steps on a very old house, and wonder who has looked in that mirror, who has walked up those steps....the little things that entertain me!

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  5. I love the color of the exterior trim. Any ideas as to similar paint colors? I have a 1950s rambler outside Washington, DC and I'm trying to do a curb appeal overhaul and I'm looking for new ideas. :-)

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  6. He looks like he's done a great job preserving the historic integrity while making the building livable by today's standards. thanks for showcasing this!

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  7. What a fascinating historical building. You worked wonders with it! I would love to see some contemporary or abstract, large works of art to offset the traditional flavor. Karena

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  8. I really enjoyed the tour. What a fantastic remodel. Very respectful of the original house. Can't wait to see the soapstone counters. --Delores

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  9. I have always wanted to see the inside of those places, I just LOVE them!! It totally beat any expectation I had, it is just amazing!! What an amazing place to live!

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  10. So nice to live in a historic building! And he did a wonderful job with the renovation! I loovvee the family room! Contemporary meets history!!
    Great post!

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  11. Love Boston...Cambridge...Charles River...all of it...and you have shared a piece that is simply splendid...thank you...(I thought the same thing about the artwork over the fireplace...smiles.)

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  12. Brings back wonderful memories of time spent in Cambridge...just love what he has done with his beautiful historic home....gorgeous!
    :) Laura

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  13. STOP IT!!!!!

    Way cool...

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  14. Great pictures and what a great job. Love it. thanks for sharing.

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  15. What a beautiful house and home! Love it! Such perfect design choices!
    We spend a great time last summer in MA and of course visited Boston and Cambridge, It was wonderful and now brings back lovely memories...

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  16. This is a great house tour. Love all the exposed brick. We used to live in Cambridge - on Forest St - and have great memories from our years there.

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  17. Triple love it! Would Leonard share his gorgeous trim color????

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  18. I love this post. Having spent some time in Cambridge last summer, it is fun to see how someone has renovated one of those wonderful old buildings.I think the interior exposed brick and the courtyard are my favorite parts.

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  19. This home is so beautiful. Such character. I love that they kept everything pretty industrial. And the clean lines make it very modern looking. Great post. xo, Cristi

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  20. This is an AMAZING house- I love it! Thank you so much for sharing. So much personality.

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  21. Amazing! This is going straight to my inspiration file.

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  22. Great house. It does look very English

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  23. CC- I spoke to Leonard about his interior trim color and here is what he said:
    "The color of some of the trim is Cobble from a London company called Fired Earth!! All their colors are beautiful. I used many in my home!! HD will reproduce them rather easily if you can get your hands on sample chips."

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  24. this is so my cup of tea.
    what a brilliant spot.

    love love love this post

    xx

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  25. Are these in North Cambridge? If so, I lived aroudn the corner and walked by everyday watching the transformation and never got to see inside - thanks for sharing.

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  26. Wow. This is a nice house. i like it a lot. it looks like most of the things here are like antiques.

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  27. It's absolutely beautiful - inside and out. Here in Cambridge we treasure our private outdoor spaces so that courtyard is heavenly. Inside the attention to detail is really wonderful. And I just love that the original oven is still in place.

    Liz

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