Inside a historic seaside mansion converted into a family home by AD100 architect Peter Pennoyer and designer Max Rollitt


Somewhere north of Boston, overlooking a glistening Atlantic Ocean dotted with sailboats, proudly stands an august mansion that is so delightfully of its time that it could serve as the setting for a Henry James novel. Mosaic leaves and vines run across the lobby floor, the ceilings are crisscrossed with decorative plaster strips, the doors are framed with portieres, and leafy tapestries cover Tudor-style oak paneling. As for the kitchen, rather than being conveniently located next to the dining room, it occupies part of the basement, where it has been located since 1912. It was at this time that the architects Bigelow & Wadsworth transformed an existing shingle-style house called Lilliothea, which means ‘place with a view from a hill’ – into an 11 bedroom daydream of a French chateau by simply wrapping the building in a larger structure clad in brick cladding. tapestry and limestone.

“Actually the kitchen is completely new but it’s always been in this location,” admits Peter Pennoyer, an AD100 architect commissioned to renovate the house by a professional couple, with two teenage daughters, who wanted its period charms. remain intact, even if they are impractical. these details could be. “They didn’t want to change the house, the spirit of the house or the fundamentals of the layout,” explains the architect. He was joined on the project by Jennifer Gerakaris, partner of his namesake East Coast company, and renowned British interior designer and antique dealer Max Rollitt. This includes the lack of air conditioning; the owners simply open the windows and let the site’s windy climate cool things down. “They loved the house for what it was and didn’t want to turn it into a state of the art thing, which was so refreshing. Anything new had to look old. Consider, again, the kitchen, which the team paved with a reclaimed French limestone called Bar de Montpellier and lined with narrow, custom-made white tiles to match the antique glazed brick in the pantry. They also added a large wooden island covered with marble that Rollitt modeled after the heavy work tables found in the kitchens of English country houses. Even household appliances had to comply: the new range fits into a bespoke cast iron frame that also includes the existing stove that sits next to it. Mrs. Patmore from Downton abbey would warmly approve. Yet, the woman reports, visitors always ask why the kitchen hasn’t been updated.

The pool has been designed to look like it is emerging from the nearby stone ruins.

“The family before us didn’t litter the house, which I was so grateful for,” she continues. “They hadn’t done anything about it; there was still button and pole electricity, with wires running through the rooms, which was probably installed in the 1920s – a hair dryer and curling iron plugged in at the same time would blow all fuses. Historic residences have marked his life since his childhood. Years ago she and her husband lived in a Manhattan loft with “old factory bones,” and when they moved to Boston, they bought a dilapidated house and restored it to its original state. could have been, up to installing a dumbwaiter in working order. “It was very kind to let me run around with the old stuff,” she says of her partner, who grew up in a modern apartment in her native Turkey.

Which is why Pennoyer, Gerakaris and Rollitt were selected for the job. The first two are deeply inspired by classical architecture and treat venerable houses with an extraordinary sensitivity; here they would restore every detail to its original state – going so far as to re-roof the place with thousands of slate tiles in five different hues – while also building a shed, tennis hut and a swimming pool which appears to be built inside the ruins of a stone oven. Rollitt also reveres the past, but once he left his rural village in Hampshire and saw Lilliothea in person, he was simply stunned. “I was a little overwhelmed by this mixture of novel, Renaissance and neoclassicism,” says the decorator. “It’s an amazing vernacular, so it was quite difficult to make it a cohesive house. Fortunately, we had the time. From start to finish, the project lasted three years, which, he adds, allowed “ideas to marinate”.


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