Michael McCarthy Michael McCarthy | March 19, 2021 |
Designer Vani Sayeed helps a young family transform an old home in Chestnut Hill after they make the big move from the city.
Sayeed used vibrant window treatments from Schumacher (fschumacher.com).
When moving from an apartment in the city to a 6,300-square-foot, historic charmer in the suburbs, one thing might become intimidating: scale. More elbow room requires a keen vision to see how each space can truly live. Which is why a young family tapped Boston designer Vani Sayeed (vanisayeedstudios.com) to tackle a property built in the early 1900s in Chestnut Hill.
The designer, who says her style is transitional and globally inspired, took on the entire first floor of the home, which hadn’t been updated for three decades. “The challenge was to preserve the fine architectural detailing of the residence while meeting the needs and aesthetics of a young and active family,” says Sayeed, adding that the couple has a penchant for blending the old and new. She used their burgeoning collection of antique dinnerware as a jumping-off point for the overall design vision and color inspiration.
Project challenges were typical of an older home. The kitchen and great room were closed off with walls and random layers of cabinetry, says Sayeed. “Our goal was to have an open plan with direct sightlines from kitchen sink to the cozy spot on the comfy sectional sofa in the family room,” she says. “To achieve this, we opened up the spaces by relocating and removing walls, layers of cabinetry and updating the architectural elements like windows and doors to suit the historic nature of the home.”
The formal dining room features some of the homeowner’s beloved antique dinnerware and Rubelli (rubelli. com) Venezia Gritti wall covering.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle—and the most stunning design achievement—was the kitchen, which would become a family hub for dinners, homework and game nights. Sayeed and her team removed several layers of cabinetry and a wall to open sightlines from the kitchen to the family room, essentially from the back of the home to the front. Opening the space created an easy traffic flow and brought in more light from every direction. “The range wall needed to be completely reframed, and new windows were added. Once the architecture was up to speed, the rest of the design fell into place,” she says.
“ONCE THE ARCHITECTURE WAS UP TO SPEED, THE REST OF THE DESIGN FELL INTO PLACE.” –VANI SAYEED, DESIGNER
Sayeed worked with the family to frame the kitchen with Scavolini (scavoliniusa. com) Shaker-style cabinets in taupe, giving the space a clean, contemporary feel. The island is a gorgeous Illusion Blue quartzite with a honed finish, while the perimeter is a hardy Caesarstone from Cumar (cumar.com). Hudson Valley (hudsonvalleylighting.hvlgroup.com) pendants above the island provide abundant light and add a layered look to the space. Other standout elements include subway tile from Walker Zanger (tileshowcase.com), a 36-inch Shaw (houseofrohl.com) sink, easy-to-maintain Janus et Cie (janusetcie.com) island stools and window treatments fabricated in Elizabeth Eakins (elizabetheakins.com) fabric. Antique dinnerware, along with paintings by Sayeed, dress the walls beautifully.
Sayeed grounded the family room with a wool sisal rug from Landry & Arcari (landryandarcari.com), and she chose sconces from Circa Lighting (circalighting.com) to complement natural light. The built-in features custom-made details that Sayeed is particularly proud of. “The arches were inspired from an existing architectural detail near the entry to the formal dining room,” she says. “We took that detail and repeated it into built-in design so that it had a sensibility of always being a part of the home.” Sayeed notes the clients also wanted a large and easily maintained sectional sofa to accommodate a bustling kid-friendly lifestyle. She chose a custom leather-covered sofa and two Jules chairs from Hickory Chair (hickorychair.com). “Custom window treatments are fabricated from Schumacher’s (fschumacher.com) lovely Lotus Garden pattern, bringing the outside in, especially on cold, gray winter days.”
Sayeed framed the kitchen with Scavolini (scavoliniusa.com) Shaker-style cabinets in taupe, giving the space a clean, contemporary feel. Other highlights include Waterworks (waterworks.com) subway tile and an island topped with Illusion Blue quartzite with a honed finish.
Before Sayeed worked her magic, the formal dining room was an unwieldy space painted in bubble-gum blue. “Our approach was to update the space with elegant finishes, texture and a few simple interior architecture updates,” she says. Her team opted for elegant Rubelli (rubelli.com) Venezia Gritti wall covering, updated the flat ceiling with coffered detail and added a custom dining table from the David Iatesta (davidiatesta.com) Asilah Mensola collection. A multipendant chandelier from John Pomp Studios (johnpomp.com) and drapes—featuring fabrics from both Elizabeth Eakins (elizabetheakins.com) and Elitis Poeme (elitis.fr)—complete the space. “We also showcased the client’s collection of antique Chinese rose medallion porcelain plates,” says Sayeed.
Other delights pop up everywhere, including a casual dining area between the kitchen and the family room. It has become a mini sanctuary, where the young couple and their kids gather to relax, share a quick meal and recount the day’s discoveries. In other words, it’s the type of charming and useful square footage that makes Sayeed adore her job.
LOCATION Chestnut Hill
INTERIOR DESIGN Vani Sayeed Studios, vaniesayeedstudios.com
David Iatesta Custom table, dining room, davidiatesta.com
Hansgrohe 36-inch sink, kitchen, hansgrohe.com
Hickory Chair Sofa, Jules chairs, living room, hickorychair.com
John Pomp Studios Chandelier, dining room, johnpomp.com
Landry & Arcari Wool sisal rug, family room, landryandarcari.com
Rubelli Venezia Gritti wall covering, dining room, rubelli.com
Scavolini Cabinetry, kitchen, scavoliniusa.com
Schumacher Custom window treatments (Lotus Garden), living room, fschumacher.com
Photography by: Nat Rea