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A Contemporary Surprise Awaits Guests When Stepping Inside a Traditional Home in Belmont

By Michael McCarthy | November 30, 2020 | Home & Real Estate

A traditional exterior belies the modern design inside.

In the quiet suburban enclave of Belmont, neighbors might stroll by a 5,620-square-foot, Chateauesque home and see its traditional elements—red brick, European design and roofline—and predict what’s inside. In their mind’s eye, they’d see heavy molding, crimson and royal blue fabric, lacquered oak floors and antiques.

They would be wrong.

Doreve Nicholaeff, founder and principal at Osterville-based Nicholaeff Architecture and Design (, and her team completely gutted the home and created an interior that serves as a model of modern design. “The newly configured interiors are distinguished by rich woodwork, clean-line cabinetry and almost casingless construction,” she says. “Because these rooms are contemporary and largely without trim, the design and construction are far more precise than a typical room where floorboards, moldings, paneling and casings are used to cover imperfect joints.” Nicholaeff teamed up with the builder Thoughtforms ( and notes they’re “exceptonal contractors and easy to work with.”

Visitors won’t find a trace of molding or trim in the home.

The home’s new look dovetails with the design firm’s mission and Nicholaeff’s philosophy about living spaces. “The passage through any home should be a journey of differing perspectives, of reassuring familiarity and of pleasant surprises,” she says. “The satisfaction of doing a project that makes the client happy is enormous—and you’ll never make a person happy if they come from a traditional background and you put them in a modern house.”

Interior designer Jessica Vaule took her cues from her clients’ aesthetic, which she says is clean and modern with a touch of softness. Vaule says the project’s schedule was challenging, but the architect and the general contractor “worked miracles to make things happen.”

A modern kitchen from Bulthaup Boston includes pendants by Alison Berger and dining chairs by Hans Wegners.

For the kitchen, Vaule worked with Ellen Horsley from Bulthaup Boston (, which provided the walnut cabinetry, stainless- steel countertops, dining table and appliances. The designer chose pendants above the counter by Alison Berger ( and Kevin Reilly ( lighting to hang above the dining table. The wishbone dining chairs are by Hans Wegner ( with custom leather chair pads made by Boston’s Eliot Wright Workroom (

The master bedroom features abundant build-it storage.

The family room is graced by sofas and a coffee table by B&B Italia (, which can be found at Montage Boston ( Vaule layered the room with other finds from the Boston Design Center (, including shades from Corad ( and a Steven King ( carpet.

The couple’s style demanded perfect execution, says Vaule. “Doreve and her team really excel at this. The end result always feels bright, warm and comfortable.”

The master bath’s clean white lines are complemented by windows ushering in lots of natural light.

Photography by: Richard Mandelkorn Photography