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Laissez-Faire

The design plans lay mostly dormant for six years, until 2011. Fortunately, says the owner, “Sharon got everything right the first time.” While the goal was to create a home where residents can just “let it be” and go with the ebbs and flows of relaxation, rejuvenation, and leisure, the actual design and build process would prove to be anything but “laissez-faire.” DaSilva’s vision was precise, the owners’ needs and wish list were specific, and SLC Interiors of Hamilton, MA would contribute another layer of purposeful detail. PSD and SLC have collaborated on a number of projects and brought the experience of synergy that facilitated the entire process. SLC works within a system of five stages which include: programming, schematic design, design development, specifications and drawings, and installation. As with PSD, the interior designers pride themselves upon remaining involved with a project even after its initial completion. This was the owners’ first building project, so they appreciated the fact that PSD takes care of both architectural design and the actual construction of homes. “We joke about this,” says the owner. “In over thirty years of marriage we’ve always lived in high-rises and townhouses; we’ve never lived in an actual house, never owned dirt.” 

For Laissez-Faire, Sharon DaSilva would serve as both designer and project manager throughout construction. The owners brought a comprehensive list to the design meetings and arrived with a clear idea of how they wanted their new home to work and how they wanted to use it. As a second home, they planned to spend time here as a couple with their dogs, but they also wanted the ability to host guests. They work in Boston, so they wanted to be able to shoot down for a weekend or a holiday at any time during the year. Therefore, the home would need to serve multiple purposes and be ready to take on a variety of personalities—all within the limits of a relatively small footprint. The owner says, “PSD did a great job of packing a lot of features into a constrained area.” Thus, the upstairs guest room doubles as a home office, including the computer monitor that’s also a flat screen television; another guest room doubles as a sun room. PSD seized on the owners intentions and incorporated a theme of duality throughout the program. In the process, they created a home that’s representative of a traditional Cape shingled cottage, but one that’s simultaneously modern. “It’s actually a little playful,” DaSilva says, “with unique details and this dual personality.” 

If one viewed an aerial photo of Laissez-Faire, the home would appear quite symmetrical, with the lines of its roofs forming a cross. In an approach from the street, this illusion holds, too, as a visitor can easily see the gambrel at the front and another at the side. The marsh-facing side breaks the rules however, as a two-story wall of windows rises up and interrupts one of the gables. DaSilva says, “It’s a little perverse to slice off a gambrel, but there were good reasons for doing it, and it worked well in the end.” The owners wanted the first and second floors connected in an atrium, and the double-height wall created space for a dining room below and a second-floor seating area—or reading nook, as the bibliophile owners most often use it. While providing a modern touch, the windows also allowed DaSilva to maximize space. “We wanted to let more light into the entire house,” she explains. The space is elegant enough to provide a formal dining area, yet it has the comfort and warmth that one associates more with a breakfast nook. The owner says, “We were looking for a room you could live in more than just to use for eating dinner.” Working with SLC Interiors helped create this dual nature, as the rectangular icicle chandelier provides a cool contrast to the warmth of the heavy wooden table and chairs. In an embrace of the dining space, but one that practically radiates throughout the room, rich orange armchairs bookend the table. The cushions on the side chairs share this upholstery, and the color reappears in the living room, creating a continuity throughout the home. 

Through various pairings, a sense of flow and connection permeates Laissez-Faire. One of the more striking features is the single column that, Atlas-like, carries the weight of the front gable at the home’s entrance. This monolith bears the suggestion of pillars, and symbolizes a Classical facade without fully developing that particular design element. Usually columns appear at least in pairs, but in this case, the missing one can be found in the living room, beside the fireplace, flattened into a wooden panel with only the hint of structural necessity, as though it might be holding up the mantle. The built-in cabinetry, mantle, and facade that surround and frame the fireplace terminate in an arch, the highest point of which nearly reaches the ceiling. This overall structure, which is really one set piece that includes the aforementioned flattened column, lines up exactly with an archway cut out from the kitchen. If one stood facing the sink, it would be easy to believe that the archway and the arch once fit together, which in turn creates the sensation of an arcade with its implied repetition of form. 



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