Urban Revival

Cambridge, Massachusetts

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With its newlywed homeowners’ ability to see massive potential in this three-level urban house in Cambridge, SV Design was able to transform the once dilapidated and dark multi-family into a vibrant home with style and detail. The home was purchased as a major long-term investment with potential for rental income and the young buyers wanted a renovation that would align with their future-selves to accommodate possible children and out-of-town family visitors.

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When the couple approached SV Design for a complete architectural, interiors, and décor overhaul, the property consisted of choppy apartments lacking flow on the first and second floors and a cramped attic space. Plans were drawn to create one, three-story unit and a separate garden level apartment.

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Nestled in a traditional Greek revival city neighborhood, SV Design identified great opportunity for the building to complement its surrounding vernacular and added key romantic elements to bring architecture of past to modern day. Eloquent features such as a gabled roof, an elevated solid front door with window detailing, wide trim, pilasters, and simple lines of midcentury architecture were incorporated to create an understated Greek revival influence. A subtle, yet modern color palette of charcoal grey duration siding, white trim, citrus door, and ebony Marvin windows add depth and definition to the exterior.

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Due to zoning regulations, the original footprint of the building could not be expanded, however our residential team implemented creative solutions to increase ceiling height in the garden level apartment by digging the foundation deeper, and added three dormers to transform the top level into a comfortable living space, complete with an office, guest room, and fourth bath.

Workarounds were made to manage constraints related to the location of the home and extremely close proximity to its neighbor. With an impenetrable fire wall on the entire right side of the structure and only two feet between buildings, all utility spaces – bathrooms, closets, laundry, staircases, and mudroom – were thoughtfully repositioned along the impenetrable right side on all floors to maximize space and additional windows on the opposite side of the home.

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A now seamless flow between the kitchen, dining, and living areas enhances natural light on the first floor and a large kitchen island and floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace are prime focal points for guests to gather around. The juxtaposition between traditional and modern elements is accomplished through sleek lines to achieve a contemporary, minimalistic look. Curves in the front entryway and graceful, generous-sized staircase create a softened, inviting feeling and a mixed palette of blues, whites, and greys are crisp, yet serene.

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Our interior design team brought the young homeowners’ design vision to life through mid-century, modern inspired furnishings and personal touches with tile and lighting selections, bringing vibrancy to the historic area and the home itself.

This beautiful city abode features typical, modern upgrades but also amenities of a much larger home, high-quality insulation and windows, and is prepped for future use of solar panels and electric vehicles.

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This project received a Cambridge Historical Commission Preservation Award for the conservation and protection of the city’s architecture and history. While thoughtfully designing this renovation, SV Design drew inspiration from other Greek Revival buildings in the neighborhood that told a story of what the home might have been and what it could be. It was important that the structure feel rooted in the history of the neighborhood while becoming a modern home with new amenities. Close attention was paid to exterior detailing and also the thermal envelope, material sustainability, and durability in hopes that it will be standing 100 years from now.