By ROB SWENSON
LEXINGTON, Mass. – There’s something magical about light. It’s comforting. It attracts people’s attention, and it makes them feel cheerful.
“Humans are drawn to light. When it’s dreary outside, humans get depressed,” says Barney Maier, a senior architect with Feinmann, Inc., a design-build firm in Lexington, Mass. “Humans respond positively to light.”
The homeowners’ desire for more light was a factor that significantly shaped the Feinmann team’s award-winning remodel of Cara and Scott Winterble’s home in Lexington.
Several windows were added to let more natural light into the kitchen and dining area. In addition, a wall was removed and a partial bathroom was relocated to open up space and provide better visual and physical access to the nicely landscaped backyard.
Strategically installing white painted cabinets helped substantially brighten the new kitchen. A new backdoor and mudroom area helped give the main floor a better flow. The master bathroom on the second floor of the house also was upgraded with lighter colored hickory cabinetry.
“I was really pleased with the outcome,” says Cara Winterble. “I like dark wood, but when you add the light wood, it really pops.”
The Winterbles’ 1,800-square-foot bungalow was built in 1929. They set out to update the Foursquare, Colonial home while retaining its charming appearance. They also wanted to keep the home within its existing footprint in Lexington, a city rich in American history.
Lexington is a town of about 32,300 people in a prosperous part of the Greater Boston Area. The community is famous for being the site of the first shot fired in the American Revolutionary War. That was in 1775. Today, Lexington is home to many historical buildings and monuments that pay tribute to the Colonial and Revolutionary Eras.
Lexington was first settled in 1642 as part of Cambridge but was incorporated as a separate town in 1713. It remained largely a farming community until a population boom in the 1950s.
Cara Winterble, who is expecting her second child, can see the Boston skyline from a park near her home where she takes her two-year-old daughter to play. She and her husband had lived in their bungalow about four years before deciding a few years ago to remodel it. They called Feinmann for help in reimagining how to use the space and stay within a reasonable budget.
“They helped us with the design process. We told them what we were looking for, and after a few meetings we got there. It was really easy,” Cara says. “I kept waiting for it to be hard.”
Feinmann employees helped build as well as design the improvements. Maier was the architect for the project. Elvin Zayas-Lai was the architectural designer, and Kyle Dube was the project manager.
“The key to the success of the project was recognizing that the biggest issue was light. To get more light into the space where people were living, we had to move some things around,” Maier says. “The kitchen, especially, didn’t have enough light.”
Most projects, in Maier’s estimation, present tradeoffs. In this case, it was visual openness vs. storage space. Openness prevailed, he says, “but we were able to fit in a fair amount of storage.”
Zayas-Lai points out that moving the partial bathroom to a corner helped create a bigger area with more open space. The new design establishes a good physical and visual connection to the back yard – the “ocean view,” metaphorically speaking – he says. Establishing that kind of connection was something the Winterbles wanted.
In addition to a young child, the Winterbles have two dogs, which makes the back yard an important part of their home life. A new backdoor and mudroom area also improves the flow and appearance of the interior of the home.
Feinmann carries multiple lines of cabinets, but Showplace products were selected. The homeowners’ choice of Showplace cabinetry was a good one, Zayas-Lai says. “The design options provided the right style, a good fit, and a cost-effective price to help keep the project within budget,” he says.
Dube, who oversaw the project, agrees that Showplace cabinets worked well. “They had what we were looking for,” he says. Dube directed subcontractors as well as carpenters from Feinmann. The Winterbles moved out during construction, but Dube stayed in contact with Cara throughout the work.
“I just thought this was a really nice project because of the before and after. We significantly changed the look and the feel of the first floor, as a whole,” Dube says.
Other remodeling experts have been impressed by the outcome, too. The kitchen work won a Gold CotY Award in 2016 from the Eastern Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
Ironically, the Winterbles will be leaving the house soon. They will be moving elsewhere in the Boston area to be closer to family members, Cara says.
Improving their home in Lexington was not a wasted effort, however. The house has become more appealing for the next occupants and made their home more marketable. The improvements also might inspire homeowners elsewhere in the country.
Internet and cable TV programs about home remodeling have made variety in cabinet styles more accessible to fashion-conscience audiences across the nation’s regional borders, says Scott Korsten, director of marketing for Showplace Wood Products in Harrisburg, S.D. “TV and Internet coverage has made sharing ideas easier and more popular,” he says.
“Expanding our cabinetry offerings, including door styles, wood species, finishes and customization options, has become a way of life at Showplace,” Korsten says. “It helps us better serve Feinmann and other independent dealers across the nation who sell Showplace cabinets to increasingly aware homeowners.”