It was Jackie's sense of tradition that drove the design, says McDonagh. For example, the basic layout showed the kitchen open to the dining room, in a relatively modern design. McDonagh separated the two rooms with a wall of windows. "The trend toward open kitchen/dining room plans is okay if you have kids and you need to keep an eye on them," she says, "but it's gone a little too far. Separating the rooms made the kitchen warmer, and now the dining room can be a separate space. This way you can make it as formal or informal as you need." McDonagh also enclosed the entry foyer into a defined space instead of allowing the front door to open into the main room of the house.

Once the basic layout was complete, McDonagh turned to what she calls the "backdrop"—the walls and built-ins that define the character of the rooms. "Before Tricia designed the backdrop," says Janet, "she sat with my mother to ask about what her life is like. How does she live? She reads constantly, and watches news shows and financial shows. She loves to sit and spread out the newspapers." The respect for tradition, the need for storage, and the desire to spend time reading and relaxing in comfort drove the rest of the design.

"There are lots of storage issues in this project," says McDonagh. "So everything does double duty. The kitchen banquette has drawers, the living room has a built-in desk and file drawers, and even the mechanical room has some storage in it. There's a built-in cabinet in the dining room for glassware and other items. The front entry bench opens, and there's a bench on the stairwell that also opens. Upstairs there's a walk-in closet, and under the windows there's a built-in chest of drawers."

Before she started on the furnishings, McDonagh finished off the backdrop with some fine details for the walls: grid-patterned panels that carry throughout the house and continues up the stairs. "The repetition shows rhythm," she says. "The panels are a little different from room to room, but they add grace so the house isn't choppy." McDonagh also added moldings and chair rails to soften the space and contribute to the antique carriage house feel of the cottage.
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