A century-old Tudor home in the Eastern Point neighborhood of Gloucester, Massachusetts, has been reborn with a new look for the 21st century.
Once brown and brooding inside, its walls, floors, and fixtures have perked up substantially, thanks to the keen eye and deft hand of Michael Ferzoco from Eleven Interiors.
He and his firm were asked by his client to modernize the house, mostly with cosmetic touches. It was to be a modest update, following a full-blown renovation by the previous owners 10 years ago. Eleven Interiors left intact most of what they could, but replaced some of the home’s decaying woodwork.
“We were trying to modernize the interior and give a nod to the historic relevance of the home,” Boston-based Ferzoco says. “We wanted to refresh it for a younger vibe, but not take away from its historic feel.”
He did that in the dining room with a subtle nod to William Morris in his choice of wallpaper and stained-glass windows. The result is an approachable space with understated elegance, plus a no-muss, no-fuss look for the table and chairs. “There’s not a lot of fabric there,” he says. “People and children are eating in this room.”
The design team raised the wainscoting up high for scale, taking up two-thirds of the wall’s height. The upper third’s covered in wallpaper that frames the stained glass. “Now it feels more cozy in that room,” he says.
In the kitchen, they painted all the cabinetry, made of solid wood most likely crafted on site when the house was built. They sanded and refinished the original fir floors, and then brought in new countertops, cabinet door hardware, and light fixtures. “We wanted a durable feel, and fixtures that were functional and beautiful at the same time,” he says.
They changed the color palette throughout it all, from heavy and dark to lighter tones, and updated the wallpaper colors, adding some built-ins along the way. And they hung a swing for the children in the solarium. “That helps make it a fun, welcoming, warm, and updated home,” he says. “It was taken care of extraordinarily well by the prior owners, but we wanted to add our own touches.”
Ferzoco stayed true to the home’s original vernacular, but upstairs he cleared out walls and closed off doors. The idea was to consolidate a warren of seven small bedrooms into four, plus a media room/library, an office, and a gym. “It felt like a maze,” his client says. “So we opened it up .”
It may be a 4,500 square-foot house, but it offers a remarkably human scale and proportion because of its relatively low, nine-and-a-half-foot-tall ceilings. That’s the original height in the home, as designed 100 years ago. “The taller the ceilings, the more verticality—and the eye is consumed by the volume,” Ferzoco says.
This is a second home for his client, who works in an investment management firm in Boston, where he lives along with his wife, their two children, and their dog. He’s originally from New Mexico, but spent a lot of time in Gloucester growing up with his best friend, who had a house there. That gave him a lifelong affinity for the area.
The family of four spends most of its time in a 1,300-square-foot Boston apartment, one that Ferzoco helped them renovate. “We needed more space,” the client says. “For the price of an extra room in Boston, you could buy a whole house in Gloucester.”
Now they use their Gloucester home on weekends and for longer stretches during the summer. But they also took up full-time residency in the house during the pandemic. “We were there from April 2020 until the kids went back to school in person in the fall of 2020,” he says. “Otherwise, we’d have been stuck in a small apartment with two children and a dog.”
The home sits up on a small knoll on its 8,000-square-foot lot, with perennial gardens, a side yard, back yard, and spacious front yard. “That’s what drew us to it,” the client says. “When we first saw it, my wife, the kids, and the dog all ran down to it.”
And it’s located on a private road lined with a number of older homes, at least four of them historic. “They’re all unique homes—some are old Gilded Age residences and some a little newer,” the client says. “And it’s a 10-minute walk to the water—either the Atlantic Ocean or Gloucester Harbor.”
Once a thriving whaling metropolis back in the day, Gloucester is still home to a commercial fishing industry. “It’s a historic and interesting part of the North Shore,” he says.
Thanks to Michael Ferzoco and Eleven Interiors, he and his family can retreat to an updated slice of that heritage.