Led by Lisa Tharp Design, the clever makeover plays with the owner’s love for literature.
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S.eeing like Concord was Once the hangout for such famous writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Louisa May Alcott, it only makes sense that Lisa Tharp Design’s multi-room rehab of a 5,000-square-foot Arts and Crafts-style home began there the library.
The homeowner’s three children were getting older, and while she wanted a more adult, sophisticated look for her apartment, she didn’t want to sacrifice comfort. “This house should be a haven for the family,” says Headmistress Lisa Tharp, a place where they “can relax and unwind and enjoy good books, cozy fires and meals together.” Maximizing natural light was also important to the client throughout the project, which was completed in phases over a number of years.
With that in mind, Tharp and her team have initiated the remodeling by replacing the wooden slat blinds in the combo library and living room with Roman hues to let in sunshine and reveal views of the property’s pretty gardens – preferably from the new 12 foot to see from -long window seat. Cool Vermont marble chimney trim and pretty mid-century accents like the floor lamp and travertine coffee table offset the room’s dominant pink tones that the customer loves. “The idea of going pink in a library was a bit unusual – but I thought it was the perfect counterpoint to all that dark, heavy wood,” says Tharp.
In the hallway, the kitchen facelift also focused on capturing natural light – the brooding tiled stove wall went out and tall windows came in. A custom-made Edwardian-style hood now protrudes from the ceiling, mirroring the curves of the Urban Electric Co. light that illuminates the existing island. As the homeowner wanted to nest three counter stools under the island, Tharp and her team designed upholstered synthetic leather seats with a narrow profile to accommodate space constraints. There is more seating in the adjoining playroom with breakfast room. With a Jean Prouvé table and banquets, and a desk built by craftsman Norton DeAmorim, it has become a multifunctional space for meals and study sessions.
But while the breakfast room is decidedly family-owned, the redesign of the primary suite’s floor plan has created a retreat just for mom. Tharp replaced the small window to the bed with a wall of French doors that open onto the balcony overlooking the grounds. The French flair of the room – also illustrated by Renoir’s etching above the tufted headboard – is intentional, says Tharp. “We took inspiration from a beautiful suite somewhere in Paris,” she explains. “There is a bit of an escape that takes you to a place that is beautiful and inspiring.” (The City of Lights is another literary center – coincidence?)
The suite’s reconfiguration opened up the space, while the installation of an interior window helped brighten up the formerly cavernous main bathroom and new dressing room. And, oh, the luxurious details: custom-made furniture, Moroccan-style glass and gold-plated wall tiles by Ann Sacks as well as shadowbox mirrors lined with pink lacquer above the vanity. “This is a client who just wanted her home to feel happy,” says Tharp. “There are those funny little moments when it looks like this: Let’s not be so serious … that’s proof of who she is.”
No wonder, then, that the main bathroom is now one of the homeowner’s favorite places in the house and competes for the top spot with Tharp’s masterpiece: a cozy hideaway for reading and meditating in the basement that once took up a windowless room to store drums. Inspired by mossy forests, Tharp worked with contractors from Carpenter & MacNeille to create a daybed corner that was accessed through an oval cutout in a wall. “When you are in there, you feel completely cocooned and protected in this complete calm,” says Tharp. Especially during the current pandemic, “we long for a connection with what is really important: the people we love, nature, peace and quiet,” she adds. “Spaces that not only bring people closer and rejuvenate, but even stimulate meditative thoughts. These spaces nourish our souls. “
An inner sanctuary in the cloister next to the lounger is really soul-nourishing, with velvet stools and a mirrored ceiling and walls. This creates the illusion that the glow of the 12 flameless candles hanging from the ceiling will last forever (a nod to Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama) Infinity Mirror Rooms – and to the floating rejuvenations of the Great Hall in the Harry Potter Series).
And how exactly do you access this secret retreat? Pull on the back of the homeowner’s favorite book – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – and the “door” of the bookcase will naturally swing open. It’s an engineering feat torn from the pages of a Sherlock Holmes mystery – and a fitting metaphor for renovation as a whole. “That was creative freedom that you don’t get with every project,” says Tharp, noting that designing a completely pink room was a first for her company. “We were very grateful to have this trust from the customer.”
Contractor / mill worker
Zimmermann & MacNeille
Interior architecture / design
Lisa Tharp Design