A Traditional Cape Gets a Contemporary Makeover

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When our clients were ready to move their growing family from their Somerville condo, they began looking for the perfect single family home. After two years of searching, they decided to change their thinking. They would buy a house that had potential and transform it into the house they loved.

The couple bought a pre-1930s Cape in Winchester. The small rooms and heavy paneling fit neither their lifestyle nor their design aesthetic, but the yard and location were enticing. Our clients immediately started interviewing contractors and design/build firms. In Spring 2015, they signed with Morse Constructions. Our client says “Paul was the only one who really seemed excited by our vision. We felt we could trust him and he truly listened to what we wanted.”

Our clients envisioned an open, airy, contemporary floorplan with an updated kitchen, additional baths, a master suite, mudroom and first floor laundry – all within the same footprint as the original home. “We have lived in the Boston area for 13 years but our design tastes are definitely not traditional New England,” comments our client.

We brought in architect Tom Downer of Downer Associates in Cambridge to develop a design that met all of our client’s needs within their budget, and without enlarging the existing home. According to Tom, “It’s a very efficient process to work with Morse because we work as a team. Morse estimates construction costs as we go so we know we are proposing designs that are financially feasible.”

Our clients moved into their Winchester home a little more than one year after they closed on their purchase. “We couldn’t be happier with our decision to renovate,” says our client. “Throughout the project, Paul and his team kept our priorities in mind. The result reflects our vision and our lifestyle perfectly.”


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Want to transform your own home? Please contact us to discuss your project! We are currently booking for Fall 2017/Winter 2018.

Tags: whole home renovation, design/build, Winchester, MA home renovation

Home Renovation Inspiration: Modern Flair for Older Boston Homes

We are in the process of renovating our own older home in Cambridge. When we finish, the interior will be much more contemporary and open. We love the suprise of a traditional exterior cloaking a modern interior, yet it is a priority to preserve the architectural features that give the house character and integrity.

If you own one of Boston's many wonderful older homes, you may love its architectural details, but yearn for solutions to awkward floorplans, smaller rooms and insufficient storage. Maybe you envy the clean lines and openness of contemporary spaces.

Renovation is the answer! We've compiled some inspiring examples of surprising renovations of historic homes from around the country -- including a recent one that we completed in Boston. Please take a look at some of these Ideabooks from Houzz.

If you have any questions or need help envisioning your space in new ways, we would be happy to speak with you. Please don't hesitate to contact us. -- Paul & Karen Morse


Tags: Historic Renovations, renovation ideas, whole home renovation

Client Story: Back Bay Boston Home Renovation

Boston Kitchen Remodel Morse Constructions

Just a few years ago, Morse Constructions completed improvements to a lovely Wellesley home. As the owners looked forward to their retirement years, however, the city lights beckoned. They bought a floor in a co-op building on Berkeley Street in Boston’s Back Bay and asked Morse to do a major renovation.

The 3,600 square foot home is located on the fourth floor of a building constructed in the 1920s. The space had been renovated in the 1980s. Not only were the renovations dated, the floor plan did not work for a couple who loved to cook and entertain. Public areas needed better traffic flow, while family areas needed greater privacy.

“We made changes in every room and redesigned sections of the main spaces, touching 85% of their home,” explains Paul Morse, founder of Morse Constructions. 

In many cases, the footprints of the rooms did not change, but access to them altered dramatically. For example, a coat closet was relocated to create a kitchen entrance through a butler’s pantry adjacent to the foyer. A bathroom and a laundry room were switched to place the bathroom in closer proximity to the spare bedroom. Meanwhile, access to “his and hers” master bathrooms was reconfigured to maintain privacy.

Among other improvements, Morse also:

  • Updated kitchen and butler pantries, incorporating extensive food preparation and wine storage areas, multiple sinks, a bar area, professional grade range and range hood, and a large refrigerator supplemented with refrigerator and freezer drawers;

  • Replaced dated dining room bookshelves with elegant molding and sconces;

  • Preserved distinctive carved and arched doorways and historic architectural features;

  •  Created walk-in “his and her” closets adjacent to the master bedroom

  • Added built-in cabinetry in several rooms including the study and master bedroom

  •  Converted large cast iron radiators to smaller steam radiators

  •  Completely updated all bathrooms

According to Paul, the project’s Back Bay location posed some unique challenges. “Just getting materials up to the fourth floor was a trick. We had to crane things in through the windows,” he explains.

Ventilation also required some creative thinking since the Back Bay Architectural Commission prohibits exterior penetrations. The commercial grade range hood in the kitchen is so powerful that makeup air needed to be brought back in to the kitchen to maintain pressure. The solution was change windows to incorporate  transoms that could accommodate louvers to hide the ductwork from the street . Ventilation now occurs through the transoms, and an elaborate soffit system carries the air throughout the home.

Morse provided design/build services on the project, working in conjunction with interior designer Nancy Allen.


To view photos: Scroll through the slide show using the arrows at the very bottom of the image or click the image to go to our Houzz site to view images at full size.

Tags: Boston renovation, Kitchen remodeling, historic renovation, whole home renovation, condo renovation