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While still respecting the shingle-style architecture of this new house, the interior puts a new spin on tradition


Around the turn of the last century, traditional shingle-style houses became a popular alternative to Victorian architecture. And although these houses frequently borrowed elements of earlier architectural styles, their relaxed, informal design was a welcome break from the more lavish and ornate decorations that typically characterized homes built in the Victorian era.

The shingle style is still in vogue today, as illustrated by this new house, designed by Brandon Diem and built by Peter Fallon of Fallon Custom Homes & Renovations. With a cedar-shingled exterior, high-pitched roof, gable elements and copper gutters and downspouts, the house is a testament to that style. The interior features extensive millwork, which also reflects the traditional craftsmanship that typified these homes.

"The archways, barrel-vaulted ceiling and white-painted paneling in the foyer are all characteristic of the shingle style," says Fallon. "Similarly, the double-height void at the entrance, with a coffered ceiling, provides the grand entrance we associate with this type of house."

To further enhance the gracious feel of the entrance foyer, interior designer Barbara Kotzen specified a lightly patterned, gold wallpaper. Reproduction antique furniture and a collection of artworks help to create a gallery feel, while French doors at the end of the hallway lead the eye through the house to the garden beyond.

Because the house was a display home for several weeks, rooms were decorated by a number of different designers and companies. In addition to the entrance hall, Barbara Kotzen designed the formal dining room, which features a linen-and-silk fabric on the walls, edged with a custom trim.


"With so much white paint on the millwork in the house, the room needed a touch of color," Kotzen says. "But, it was also important that this was subtle, rather than loud, hence the gold and caramel tones."

Warm colors also feature in the formal living room, decorated by Mitchell Gold. Here, tomato red is paired with soft green tones, and dark green-brown accents provided by a pair of studded wing chairs. Using similar tones in the plaid carpet, striped drapes and upholstery fabrics helps pull the room together visually. Mitchell Gold also provided a modern twist on tradition by painting the large squares in the coffered ceiling.

The green-and-brown theme continues through to the family room, which was decorated by Circle Furniture. Here, a variety of fabrics in soft forest tones were chosen to match the muted green color of the walls. Traditionally styled wood furniture complements the quarter-sawn white oak flooring, which features throughout the interior.

In keeping with the need for modern convenience, the kitchen, designed by Kotzen, is positioned in the heart of the house. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets with a warm white paint finish feature traditional raised panel doors. The moldings and cornices are also typical shingle-house features, designed to complement the decorative millwork. The cabinetry has a solid, permanent look, with glass display cabinets at the top ensuring the kitchen remains light and airy.

But Kotzen has also introduced some less predictable elements, notably a lively, diamond-patterned mosaic tiled backsplash behind the cooking center.

"I didn't want the kitchen to look too Olde Worlde," she says. "The colorful backsplash is a fun element – it brings a lot of character to the room. The other backsplashes are more subdued with warm white tiles, but they also have a colored decorative border."

Speckled New Venetian Gold granite countertops add further visual warmth, as does the dark-stained cherry wood island. With its pilasters and furniture-style legs, the island was designed to look like a piece of furniture.

Warm neutral tones bring a calming influence to the master bedroom suite. The bedroom, which was decorated by Mitchell Gold, is also characterized by contrasting textures – shiny Venetian-style mirrors and mirrored night stands are juxtaposed with a shaggy carpet and carved bedposts.

The master bathroom, on the other hand, has a very simple, yet elegant material palette. Designed by Barbara Kotzen, the room features Osso polished marble, with the visual interest created by the manner in which this is used. Large slabs of marble feature on the vanity top and tub surround, while a mix of large and small marble tiles define specific areas. Kotzen has also introduced tiled herringbone mosaic panels to the main floor and shower walls.

"Placing the panels in narrow areas, such as the floor next to the tub, helps to bring a sense of balance to the room," Kotzen says. "Here, it almost acts as a runner, making the space appear larger."

A marble strip extending up one wall and along the ceiling was also designed for visual balance.

First published date: 27 April 2007

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Credit List

Architect Brandon Diem, Studio 53 Design (Needham, MA)
Interior designer Barbara Kotzen, with Mitchell Gold (formal living room and master bedroom) and Circle Furniture (family room)
Main contractor and kitchen designer Peter Fallon, Fallon Custom Homes & Renovations
Kitchen manufacturer Fallon Fine Cabinetry
Structural engineer Roome & Guarracino
Doors and windows Pella Architect Series
Wood flooring Vajentic Flooring
Rugs Dover Rug Co
Wallcoverings Wallpaper from Scalamandre
Paints C2
Lighting Wolfers Lighting
Heating Budarus Heating System from Comfort Zone Heating & Cooking
Home audio Crestron; Audio Video Design
Breakfast room furniture Thomas Moser
Kitchen cabinets Fallon Custom Cabinets
Countertops New Venetian Gold granite; Black Galaxy granite in pantry
Backsplash Crema Luna limestone
Kitchen sink Julien
Faucets Perrin & Rowe
Range and microwave Wolf
Ventilation Best
Refrigeration Sub-Zero
Dishwasher Asko
Bathroom vanity Fallon Fine Cabinetry
Vanity top, tub surround and tiles Cedar polished marble
Basin Kohler
Bathroom faucets Rohl
Shower enclosure Prestige Glass Main photography by Greg Premru; library image by Sam Gray