Renovating a historic Cambridge home for her own family, a real estate broker shows what she does every day for her clients: realize potential.
Maggie Gold Seelig fell in love with the historic charm of this 1901 home, then set about making it perfect for her growing family.
Maggie Gold Seelig and her husband were living in a Back Bay townhouse when their third son hit his toddler years. Seelig is a Boston-area real estate broker and advisor, and she recognized that her family, with all its child accouterments, now looked strikingly similar to those of many of her clients. While she counts professional athletes, doctors, and hedgefund managers among her clientele, a common buying scenario involves a growing family looking for a highly functional home in a city full of houses that haven’t been modernized in 40 to 60 years.
When Seelig took herself on as a client, she was just as probing about her family’s habits and needs: a commitment to urban living, a contemporary aesthetic, three young boys who play loud indoor tag, a desire for no wasted space. Her house love-match was a 1901 center-hall colonial located near Harvard Square. “There was no flow to the house,” she says, “but I saw the potential, where ceilings could be raised, where rooms could be opened up.” The couple bought it. Thus commenced a two-year renovation that was completed in the fall of 2013. “The house hadn’t been touched in 45 years,” Seelig says. “Now nothing about it is the same other than the façade.”
A soft custom sofa complements the clean lines of the marble-topped kitchen island.
To execute her vision, she called in Stephen Hart of Hart Associates Architects and the builder The Holland Companies. Hart helped tailor the colonial not just to Seelig’s current family, but to how the family would live 10 years hence. “We must have gone through a dozen ways to organize that first floor,” Hart recalls.
In all those iterations was a space at the back door for keys, cell phones, coats, and backpacks. “If you look at the quantity of space given over to the mudroom, it’s hefty,” he says. Installing an elevator for an aging parent and removing a quirky octagonal addition from the backyard dictated the f low and composition of the rest of the first floor.
“We tried to make the rooms multifunctional,” says interior designer Carolina Tress-Balsbaugh, who along with partner Manuel de Santaren coordinated with Hart and Seelig on the project. A combination living room/home office off the front entry is sheathed in white oak paneling and builtins for a unified appearance. The paneling’s clean details nod to the home’s history but also look contemporary. The office can be closed off; pocket doors feature hand-blown mirrored glass panes.
The dining room fits in a narrow addition on the back of the house.
On the living room side, the closed doors reflect a pair of Christian Liaigre sofas. “I enjoy that sexy, curved ebonized wood,” says Seelig, who opted for comfy but stain-resistant chenille upholstery, accented with Fortuny pillows. An antique English secretary and a Murano chandelier from the Seeligs’ previous homes were mixed with an airy glass coffee table. “There’s not an excess of furniture in the room,” says Tress-Balsbaugh. “Everything is simple, easy to the eye.”
In the home office, built-in cabinets were designed with the exact depth to hold photo albums, kids’ memory boxes, and the printer. “With Maggie, it’s what’s practical, what will work, what will clean well,” says Tress-Balsbaugh. The same white oak is repeated on built-ins in the nearby family room, which is outfitted with a large A. Rudin custom sectional and an overscale, easy-wipe leather ottoman.
Seelig’s experience as a broker helped her see the potential in her newly purchased home.
At the back of the house is the family’s only dining area, tucked into a narrow addition overlooking the patio. “We had to be extremely thoughtful about how we use the space,” says Seelig. De Santaren designed the custom walnut table to exactly fit the room, even angling in the table’s sides for diners’ comfort. Calligaris chairs are low-profile and can be pushed completely under the table when not in use. A row of Alison Berger for Holly Hunt pendants adorns the ceiling.
Walnut is also used in the kitchen, along with putty-colored painted cabinets. Seelig chose a golden-veined Vermont marble island top. The perimeter countertops and backsplash are off white Caeserstone. The snuggle spot is the custom sofa nestled up against an upholstered wall, where the boys gather to read.
For the Seeligs, their house offers modern-day functionality in a vibrant historic neighborhood. “It’s very much figuring how to work with some traditional ideas,” says Seelig, “then tweak them so you know something new and exciting is happening here.”