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An Extended Family Builds a Masterpiece for Relaxation, Fun and Lots of Outdoor Time in the Suburbs

By Michael McCarthy | November 24, 2020 | Home & Real Estate

The home’s exterior matches the massing of other houses in the neighborhood.

When architect John MacDonald, principal at Lexington-based Morehouse MacDonald and Associates ( looks at the big picture of a project, he thinks about context and the feel of the area or region. Which is why the homes MacDonald and his team create can be so radically different, from a historic manor house in Charleston to a getaway manse in the Caribbean.

For a new project in the western suburbs of Boston, MacDonald listened to his clients’ needs and worked with them to create a home that could accommodate a multigenerational mix and large gatherings. “We wanted to provide them with a home for living, working, entertaining, worshipping and relaxing,” says MacDonald. “They want the house and the property to be home base for their children as they grow up.”

The home’s main spaces, including the family room, were designed with large gatherings in mind.

The result is an 11,000-square-foot gem, built by Sanford Custom Homes (, that offers abundant room to gather and, conversely, seek privacy. “The home is not literally Arts and Crafts, but it’s certainly influenced by that venerable and ageless style, utilizing materials that fit and function well in an established New England neighborhood,” says MacDonald. “The home is large, so we were careful to keep its massing in scale with the other houses in the neighborhood.”

MacDonald, working with landscape architects Gregory Lombardi and Troy Sober (, ensured that the mature flora on the property was maintained, so they revised the grades to create a stable plinth for the home. Their team also established a more level yard for entertaining guests and ensuring countless hours of children’s activities. “The yard boasts fire pits, a pool and spa, and an exterior living area that’s heated for the shoulder seasons,” says MacDonald. “The architecture uses natural stone, stucco, muted green trim, copper and cedar shingles, which marries the home to the neighborhood aesthetic and blends well into the wooded landscape.”

Morehouse MacDonald and Associates created kitchen space with gourmands and chefs in mind.

When it came to designing the home’s interior spaces, MacDonald leaned heavily on his approach to working with clients. “We listen to their desires and understand how they live, using an architectural vocabulary that greatly appeals to them,” he says. “This always goes through a number of iterations to get everything just right.”

For example, MacDonald learned the family adores time in the kitchen; cooking is a passion. “We created two contiguous kitchens—one for everyday living and one that can be closed off for heavy usage.” The designers also learned that the clients’ parents visit frequently, so they carved out an en suite bedroom on the first floor. And given the number of en suite bedrooms required for the family, MacDonald tucked a third floor into the roof, which “created some interesting and unique elements to complement the architectural style,” he says, adding, “Creating study areas and cozy reading nooks and libraries were important for the children, and it has been even more valuable now with the COVID outbreak. They truly love the home and are most appreciative of everyone’s efforts. It was a wonderful experience.”

Plenty of natural light is ushered into a cozy library.


Single-family home

Boston suburbs

Morehouse McDonald and Associates

Sanford Custom Builders

Gregory Lombardi

Photography by: Nat Rea