When Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (MG+BW) was called in to stage this mid-century modern split-level home in Lexington’s Peacock Farm, the designers knew they were in for a treat. “This was a special house in our minds because of the historical nature of it,” says design and trade development director Andrew Terrat. Designed by acclaimed architect Walter Pierce and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the property is part of a 45-acre suburban development whose name was inspired by the birds that once occupied the area. (Interestingly, the developer, Douglas Touart, owner of Touart Design & Construction in Bedford, Massachusetts, grew up in Peacock Farm and began building for Pierce while still in high school.)
Initially intended as affordable housing with a modernist bent, the neighborhood was built during the late 1950s and early ’60s. (This particular home has since sold for $1,220,000.) The design intent was to merge the houses with the landscape using flat roofs and living spaces surrounded by glass. “When you’re in this house, you’re in the woods,” Terrat muses. The front and back façades present as a single-level ranch, while the side views reveal two stories—an effect that helps nestle the house into the hill on which it sits.The 2,000-square-foot house with which Terrat and his team were charged was one of the first in a series of Peacock Farm houses to be custom designed. “It’s important from a modernist point of view,” he notes in recognition of the architect’s renown. “And our furniture is a perfect fit, as we lean more modern. I think that’s why they came to us—our pieces are the right scale and give the feel of what might have been there before.”
Given the long, narrow L shape of the main room, the decision was made to break it into habitable areas with different functions—the idea being to use the space in clever ways and create visual interest. For instance, they closed off and insulated the porch, separating it from the living area with a sliding glass wall—effectively turning it into a game room featuring a card table and chairs with Danish-style quarter-moon back details.
A small-scale sectional in pippin fabric faces the fireplace in the primary living space, and a funky shag pillow is juxtaposed with a patterned pillow for a touch of whimsy. (It could be argued, too, that the statement mirror above evokes the image of peacock feathers.) Adding to the playful appeal is a silver-leafed faux log end table, which was made using a real timber log cast in resin.
“The space is not big, so a lot of our decisions were based on picking things that were light,” explains Terrat, noting how the sectional sits up off the floor on metal legs—a trick to give the illusion of more floor space, making the room feel larger. A Presley chair framed in polished black chrome and stainless steel and an ottoman with a Tibetan fur cap (in lieu of a coffee table) work to further the illusion; they also help make circulation comfortable. Additional seating includes floating Kazan chairs in anthracite-colored leather with bold acrylic side panels, which sit catty-corner to create a cocktails-and-conversation nook. Together, the metal, silver, and acrylic elements help to maximize the light coming in from the skylights and wraparound windows.
Though located by the entry, the dining area is more functional than transitional. Its furnishings include upholstered chairs in chenille fabric with fuzzy pile, which was chosen for its durability. The Sputnik chandelier, of course, is a nod to the age when the house was built. At the adjacent kitchen bar, Astra stools with an openwork metal base lend a ’50s vibe.
Upon the project’s completion, MG+BW hosted a celebration party. Demonstrating the company’s success in keeping the place open, airy, and amenable to group gatherings, attendees—which included Lexington Historical Society members and lifetime Peacock Farm residents—milled about easily. “People who live there but haven’t renovated their homes were really excited to see the possibilities if you open things up,” recalls Terrat, noting that the buyer as well as a few partygoers ended up buying some of the pieces. “People really love our furniture—it has broad appeal.”
Furnishings: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, mgbwhome.com