Meredith Thayer describes her Milton home as “just a regular house.” It’s an almost Colonial, with a door pushed to one side, and a sunroom tacked on sometime after the original 1938 build. Many neighbors with similar style homes, she says, blow out the back for two-story additions. But the designer and her husband, Matt Thayer, who co-owns the gourmet grocery shops American Provisions and restaurant Gray Hall, feel that the 1,660-square-foot house is just the right size for their family of four; it just needed some tweaks. “I don’t always think bigger is better,” Meredith says. “I believe that you can live comfortably, even wonderfully, if you’re a little bit thoughtful and organized.”
Having lived in the house for eight years, the Thayers were well-acquainted with its pain points. Lack of a coat closet was a big one. They explored pushing into the attached garage (it’s too small for a car) to create an oversized closet, but nixed the idea when the quote came in. “It would have cost more than it was worth,” Meredith says. “I said, ‘Nope, I’ll figure something else out!’”
That “something else” is a furniture-like cabinet that she tucked into an empty corner of the living room, just around the corner from the entry. The white oak piece is fitted with a hanging rod plus shelves for shoes. Doors with inset cane panels make it a handsome design element. “It fills an area we weren’t really using and looks beautiful,” Meredith says.
The living room itself is relaxed enough for everyday but pulled together enough for company. Painting the brick fireplace surround black helped turn the wall of built-ins into a strong focal point. A braided rug from Meredith’s own line — she developed an artisanal rug business as an offshoot of her family’s rug factory in Rhode Island — offers texture underfoot. “I wanted this room to be cozy,” she says. “We’re in here all the time, especially in winter, drinking coffee or reading by the fire.”
The kitchen got a complete makeover. While its size wasn’t an issue, the space was poorly organized. For instance, a blank wall left enough empty floor space for their daughters to cartwheel through. The prime motivator for renovating, however, was the powder room’s location right next to the stove. “You could pee and stir a pot at the same time!” Meredith laughs.
Luckily, it was a relatively easy fix. The team closed the wall, reoriented the toilet, and changed the door so it opens onto the side entryway. Meredith took care decorating it, adding V-groove paneling painted a moody mauve, a travertine-topped oak vanity, and a pretty ceramic sconce. “I want people to go, ‘Oh!’ when they walk in,” she says.
To meet their need for more storage, Meredith lined the blank wall in the kitchen with floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. At just 12-inches deep, it holds plenty without eating up floor space. That said, she did not preserve the space for cartwheels. Instead, a freestanding walnut island takes center stage. While the circulation path is narrower than it should be — there are 36-inches between the island and pantry rather than the standard 42-inches — the setup works for them. “I’d think twice before doing it for a client, but I wasn’t afraid to smidge in my own house,” she says.
The designer left ample breathing room in the dining area since it’s the hub of the home; it’s open to the kitchen and connects the living and family rooms. Modern Windsor chairs by local maker O&G Studio carry in the black from the fireplace and the walnut table ties to the new island. A chest of drawers from a yard sale, one of the first pieces the couple bought together, holds table linens. “I love how it reminds me of those early years,” she says.
Upstairs, the bedrooms didn’t need much love, but Meredith updated the bathroom with classic finishes that won’t lose their appeal. “I couldn’t look at the 1940s baby blue tile anymore!” she says. Although it’s the family’s only full bath, they didn’t try to squeeze in another. “We’re a pretty low maintenance family,” Meredith says. “The bath is much nicer and more functional now and that’s good enough for me!”
Interior Designer: Thayer Design Studio, thayerdesignstudio.com
Contractor: Jonathan Pratt, 617-869-6907
Kitchen Island: Narrowland Woodworks & Design, narrowlandwoodworks.com
Kitchen Cabinetry: Metropolitan Cabinets & Countertops, metcabinet.com
Countertops: Cumar Marble & Granite, cumar.com
Coat Closet and Vanities: Ray’s Cabinet Shop, rayscabinetshop.com