Lara and Tom Whiteley recently completed an interior makeover of the entire first and second floors of their colonial Needham home which they purchased brand new in 2007.
They have always loved that their home is on a quiet street that is walking distance to the town center shops and restaurants and near the schools. However, they never felt like the space inside their home flowed the way it should or that they were utilizing it well.
“It never felt right,” said Lara.
Since day one when they moved into their home, they could never figure out where the dining room should be. They tried it in different areas of the house, but were not happy with any of the outcomes.
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They considered moving and searched on and off for a few years for another house, but they didn’t find another home they loved as much as where they were. Through a friend, they learned about Interiology Design Company in Watertown, a company that might have the solutions they were looking for.
After meeting with President Mark Haddad of Belmont and Executive Vice President of Design Louie Kerbici, they learned about ways to improve the interior design of their home. They decided to stay put and began the process of redesigning the first two floors of their home.
Lara compared the experience of working with Interiology to the experience she had when she planned her wedding and hired a wedding planner, someone she trusted and gave space to allow them to be creative.
“I’m a busy person. I work. I have kids and I can get very overwhelmed with the selections and the decisions and it’s more stress than enjoyment,” she said. “I know what I don’t like, but there are so many things I do like.”
She liked the methodology of working with Interiology and how they helped her stay focused and guide her to making a decision.
Lara admits she was skeptical at first, but once she saw the initial plans from Haddad and Kerbici she was instantly “wowed.”
“It made me feel like we had the right people working on our space,” said Lara.
Interiology provided the Whiteleys with several high level drawings showing them options to improve their kitchen, half bathroom and mudroom; put the dining room and family room in locations they loved; redesign their primary bathroom and main bathroom; and redecorate every space on the first and second floor, including all the bedrooms.
By removing walls, the foyer space and staircase was transformed with a higher ceiling allowing more light to come into the space.
Kitchen upgrades and amenities
The original footprint of the kitchen was maintained, but the space was completely gutted and re-arranged to feel more open, bright and uncluttered.
”We created a cooking zone, cleaning zone, coffee bar and command center with in-drawer charging capability for many devices,” said Haddad.
All the wall cabinets were removed, allowing the windows to be expanded and making the new space unrecognizable from the original.
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The Whiteley’s new kitchen has all the bells and whistles they ever dreamed of including a steam oven and a stainless steel coffee and breakfast bar area with a beverage center and restaurant-quality ice maker.
Unlike traditional kitchens, Interiology suggested a pop-up vent for cooking, something Lara said they never would have thought of.
In addition to a double oven, the kitchen also has a steam oven which Interiology introduced them to. Lara said she can cook entire meals in it. It can also be used as a regular oven.
Their microwave is hidden inside a cabinet along with plugs for their electronics.
Because she and her daughter love baking, there’s another counter area and cabinets just for that with an appliance garage where they keep the mixer and a pantry for all the baking ingredients.
The cabinetry is colored like a British racing green which Lara said her husband likes because he is British.
“We didn’t want a kitchen that looked like everybody else’s kitchen,” said Lara.
Their new kitchen layout also changed the focus to the windows with views overlooking their backyard, whereas before, the way the kitchen was laid out, they were never facing the windows or seeing the views.
The countertops are quartz and look like cement which allows hot items to be placed on them. The oversized island includes pop-up outlets for charging devices.
They transformed a closet in their mudroom located off the kitchen into cabinets and recycling drawers.
Nooks and lighting for art
Because the Whiteley’s love collecting art, lighted glass cabinets to display glass and china vases were built into the walls of the dining room and kitchen.
Built-in bar and china cabinet
Interiology designed a built-in bar for the Whiteley’s dining room which has both a wine fridge and a beer and soda fridge, a large wine/liquor drawer and shelves and cabinets for glasses and serveware.
They also added a built-in china cabinet with drawers to store the china and cabinets for glassware.
Interiology designed a built-in bench with drawers underneath which are actually file cabinets.
There is a table with chairs which are upholstered to coordinate with the dining room chairs so if they ever need additional chairs for entertaining in the dining room, they can be moved.
Primary bathroom transformation
Before the renovation, the Whiteley’s primary bathroom had a tiny shower, deck tub which was difficult to access, limited storage, and a lot wasted space, almost as if it had a dance floor in the center.
This room had limitations due to a structural post and windows and a toilet that could not be moved. However, Haddad and his team overcame these obstacles by integrating the limitations into the new design.
A window was covered to double the size of the shower, but it still remains visible from the outside to preserve the aesthetic of the home’s exterior.
A floating mirror was creatively layered in front of another window and the door to the bathroom was relocated, allowing spacious vanities and a make-up area.
The vanity for Lara has a traditional vintage white brushed finish and the vanity for Tom is more modern in iron gray paint on a sleek metal base.
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The highlight of the new bathroom is the soaking tub which is placed to look like it is under a cloud in a wood-tiled cove in the center of the bathroom, eliminating the “dance floor.” Inset LED lighting surrounds the tub, adding to the luxury spa atmosphere.
Completing the Whiteley’s wish list are towel warmers, an entrance and exit on each side of the shower, a shower bench and storage niche.
Primary bedroom suite
The Whiteley’s new king-size bed is custom-upholstered in a deep green fabric with a leaf pattern. The ceiling is painted sky blue and the window treatments are neutral to keep the focus on the outdoor view. Lara wanted the room to feel like nature.
There are many improvements Interiology made to the Whiteley’s home that Lara said they would have never thought of, such as turning a shower into a linen closet and turning their guest room, which was only used a few times a year, into their daughter’s room; and the nursery into an upstairs office for Lara with a bed for overnight guests.
New, colorful, transitional decor
In addition to redesigning the space, Interiology also helped the Whiteley’s choose the décor for their new spaces.
Lara admitted it’s easy to pick things out without knowing what the price tag is. Tom said Haddad did ask them what their limit was and priced out the options they had chosen.
Tom said if they had a fixed budget, it would have been hard to stay within it with their project.
Most challenging parts of the project
Lara dreaded the thought of renovating the kitchen and having to wash dishes in the bathroom sink. She was very thankful her contractor offered to put a temporary utility sink she was able to use during the renovation.
While renovating the primary bathroom, the contractors accessed it through a temporary hole in the kitchen ceiling to avoid going through the rest of the house.
She also didn’t like the idea of having a dumpster in the driveway and was thankful when the contractor offered to take the debris away every day.
What they love most about their new space
Before working with Interiology, Lara said they only used about one-third of their interior space.
“We now use every space in our house,” she said.
Her favorite part of the final outcome is the colors.
“I never thought I would put white on walls, but it is actually more colorful because white allows you to bring in colors,” she said.
She also loves the new hardware on her doors and the new railings painted navy-black on her staircase.
Tom and Lara are especially pleased with the outcome of the project because they know their children, Pippa, 14, and Will, 16, will be able to enjoy the house as they grow older in it.
Interiology uses team approach
Haddad describes his service as “client-centric,” a luxury level of interior design.
“Our hallmark is that every project has a team of designers which gives clients a connection to a group of people and puts them at center of story that everyone is writing. I believe this separates us from other design firms,” said Haddad.