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When the homeowners decided to renovate their vacation home located on the harbor in Manchester-by-the-Sea, they looked past the house that stood in 2008 and toward the house that was built in the 1880s.

“In the 1950s, they took the roof off and redesigned the whole thing to look vaguely modern,” says bicoastal architect John Margolis with a smile. “They did that to a lot of Shingle-style houses on the North Shore during the middle of the 20th century,” says the homeowner. “The owners actually hired an architect to give it ‘French Regency’ styling; they used a lot of white wrought iron and put on a kind of mansard roof.”

But enough of the original survived to inspire the redesign, including a lovely barrel-vaulted dining room distinguished by corner pilasters topped with heavy corbels. The homeowners determined this room would become a spacious new kitchen. With the help of Margolis of the eponymous Beverly Farms architectural firm, they set about transforming their muddled house. As soon as they broke ground, however, the builder advised against the renovation.

“The structural elements were not plumb, and we were moving a lot of walls and introducing new window headers,” says Charlie Silva of Tewksbury’s Silva Brothers Construction, familiar to millions as the in-house construction company of the long-running PBS television series This Old House.

“The word ‘can’t’ doesn’t exist in my vocabulary,” Silva says, sounding exactly like his media-star uncle, Tom. “But it wasn’t practical to work within the old envelope. We saved the foundation and strengthened it in places, then built a new structure above that. The design didn’t change, and it was a lot easier.”

“The wife is an Anglophile, and her husband is from the United Kingdom,” Margolis says. “She told me that she wanted a house inspired by the architecture of Philip Webb.”Margolis’s design was driven by his client’s appreciation for historic architecture, including the Shingle Style, which proliferated along the New England seacoast over 125 years ago and is experiencing a strong revival today. Its rambling, irregular massing easily adapts to contemporary demands for space and pleases New England’s traditionalists. The homeowners, however, know that its inspiration germinated years earlier, among a wild-eyed group of English reformers, poets, artists, and designers who called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Instead of replicating what originally stood on the site, they looked to the roots of the Shingle Style in the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

Philip Webb (1831–1915), sometimes called the Father of Arts and Crafts Architecture, designed some of the most influential houses of the 19th century. Famous for his comfortable, unpretentious country homes, Webb also designed furniture, wallpaper, tapestries, and stained glass. Webb’s first commission was the 1859 Red House, fellow Pre-Raphaelite William Morris’s eclectic country home.

A master at his craft, Margolis added interior details based on traditional designs

“We were deeply influenced by houses designed and decorated by Philip Webb and William Morris,” the homeowner confirms. “We especially loved Standen, and modeled a number of elements in our house on things we first saw there.”

Built by Webb and Morris in the 1890s, Standen is now a British National Trust property termed “a gem of the Arts and Crafts Movement.” Its influence is clear in this house adapted to its site close to Manchester’s delightful harbor. With a stucco first floor, a clapboard-clad second story, deeply bracketed roof overhangs, and a walkout basement built of Cape Ann granite, the 7,500-square-foot house features the mixed materials and emphasis on structural elements espoused by Arts and Crafts pioneers. On the harbor-facing northwest side of the house, the granite lower level opens to a broad bluestone terrace surrounding the swimming pool. The natural tones of the granite, stucco, and clapboards are accented with trim painted a delightful shade of sky blue.

“She picked all the colors,” Margolis says, recalling the pleasure of working with a knowledgeable client with great color sense. Interior colors were chosen with an eye toward the outdoors.

“From each room in the house, you look out at the water, so I chose buttery, creamy colors that would complement the colors of the harbor,” says the homeowner.

The pale, neutral color scheme also keeps the interior light and airy, which is important in a summer home, she says. A few Standen-inspired architectural elements found new expression in paneling that lines the stair hall and in the fireplace wall of the drawing room, also known as the family room.

“The Gothic arch of the fireplace, thedesign of the fireplace surround, and the overmantel paneling—they all came from the dining room at Standen,” she says.

“The paneling above the fireplace is functional as well as handsome,” Margolis chimes in. “It slides to the side to either reveal or hide the TV screen.” The living room’s television, too, hides behind a panel of Arts and Crafts millwork when not in use.

The spacious new kitchen displays its Anglophile personality with an enormous black AGA stove built into white-painted cabinetry.

“She loves to cook and entertain,” notes Margolis. A pantry outfitted with rich cherry cabinets, a marble counter, and a hand-hammered butler’s sink provides additional storage and work space.

The architect moved the dining room into what had been a screened porch. Close to the kitchen and living room, the dining room looks out to the harbor on two sides; French doors lead to to a wide covered porch that also serves as an outdoor dining room. Another door opens to the porch from the adjacent living room. Upstairs, the master bedroom opens to a roof deck on the flat roof above the dining room. This lovely and private space provides some of the house’s most compelling harbor views.

Although the house has five bedrooms, it boasts nine bathrooms, including his and hers baths in the master suite. The formerly dismal basement, with newly heightened ceilings, now houses the heating, cooling, and other systems, as well as a gym, a spa, and space for storing small watercraft and servicing the pool. The driveway, which once ran between the house and the water, has been redirected.

In the spirit of the Arts and Crafts Movement, the owners took special pains with rhododendrons belonging to the original property. When the driveway was rebuilt, they carefully transplanted the enormous century-old shrubs. Today, both the landscape and the home possess the charms of times gone by and the zeal of intelligent contemporary design.