This fall, general contractor Tom Silva and the rest of the TOH TV crew will dig both their heels and their hammers into the historic neighborhood of Avon Hill, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to help turn the interior of a badly outdated 1887 Queen Anne into an open, airy, Scandinavian-inspired home that a family of four—co-managed by a mother with a strong sense of her Swedish ancestry—can be proud of.
Owners Sally Peterson and John Stone admit they were a bit cowed when they bought the 19th-century “worker’s house” in October 2011. The interior felt awkward and dated, and, worse, many of the rooms had been stripped of much of their original character. The kitchen was on the second floor; a generous room on the main floor was being wasted as an oversize laundry room. In a nutshell, the existing layout was not hospitable for a family with two young kids.
Instead of trying to re-create the old house’s missing details, Sally and John are aiming for a simple, streamlined design inspired by Sally’s Swedish heritage, and they hired architect Marcus Gleysteen to help them get there. Gleysteen had renovated a nearby Victorian-era home that the couple admired while they were house hunting. The plans call for turning the first floor into a seamless kitchen, dining, and living area, and the third-floor attic space into a grand master suite. The second floor will house the kids’ bedrooms and a new bathroom for them to share. As for the exterior, Tom and company need to follow local preservation guidelines, with modest plans for a paint job as well as a few reconfigured windows on the side of the house—and a new brick or bluestone patio, if the budget allows.
New episodes of the Cambridge House project will begin airing in October on PBS. Check local listings for the dates and times in your area.