Before and After: A Chestnut Hill Mansion
by Erin Gates
LEFT: The Milgram's Chestnut Hill home presents a traditional, stately face to the world, giving no hint to what lies beyond its front door. RIGHT: A sculptural bench by Kundalini in the home’s entryway is offset by serene wood paneling custom designed by architect Adolfo Perez and crafted by Herrick & White Woodworkers.
|Debra, a stay-at-home mother and charity board member, and Eitan, vice president of a local hedge fund.|
If this home were applying to colleges, she’d be a shoo-in for Harvard: On the outside she’s traditional, a good fit with her peers in the historic neighborhood. On the inside, she’s as progressive and forward thinking as they come. The brick exterior of the Milgram family homestead in Chestnut Hill might lull you into believing that the interior reflects the façade, but step through the threshold and you’ll find an unexpected jolt of modernism, from the sleek, white oak-paneled foyer with dramatic glass light fixtures to the kitchen, complete with an aquarium. The conductor of this harmonic dissonance was master of modern design, architect Adolfo Perez. A native of Cuba and graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Perez has been crafting contemporary homes as the principal of his Boston firm since 1994. Debra and Eitan Milgram knew from his body of work that he would be the perfect person to bring to life their vision of an unexpected interior in their first single-family home. “There isn’t any reason why a home can’t be traditional on the outside and contemporary on the inside,” says Perez. This tip-to-toe renovation illustrates exactly how and why that statement is true.
The Milgrams purchased their Chestnut Hill home, just steps from the Boston College campus, in 2006 but didn’t move in until 2009. “We had originally planned to renovate only the master suite and kitchen,” says Debra. But once the project got underway, they realized all the possibilities a complete gut would afford them: more unobtrusive organizational spaces, a smart, high-tech audio/visual system, the ability to keep kosher in the kitchen and create clutter-free rooms. While the Milgrams waited it out in their two-bedroom Back Bay apartment, their team, including builder Tim Gaboury, set out to make the changes. “Our goal was to create a modern functional space. We wanted a house that was stylish, yet one our children could play in and run around, and feel was just as much for them as us,” say Debra.
Photographs by Eric Roth