Design Diary: Contemporary Home in Historic Modernist Neighborhood

This past Sunday, a one page design story I wrote called “Scandinavian Sleek” appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine. The article featured the living room and entry of a eco-friendly, new construction built in the modernist neighborhood of Lexington, Massachusetts called Five Fields.

The home was co-designed by architects Hank Reisen of Reisen Design Associates and Heinrich Hermann of Hermann Design, with interior furniture layouts and finishes by Britta McCarthy of Britta Design. The project contractor, who did the construction and high-energy efficiency systems was Dylan James of Patriot Custom Homes.

Here is a tour, with photos by the always excellent Eric Roth.


The homeowners wanted as close to a zero energy home as possible that honored the modernist roots of the neighborhood, and read as calm and peaceful. The wife told me that everybody comments on how serene it feels when they step inside.

Many pieces of mid-century furniture was passed down from the husband’s parents, the two Jens Risom armchairs, which were from his father’s psychiatry office. He grew up with the Dux sofas; he and his brother used to lie end-to-end on them. The trio of paintings above the sofa are by local Lexington artist, Sirarpi Heghinian-Walzer. The Arco floor lamp is a new piece. The vibrant red and purple rug, a traditional Scandinavian wool rya, is from his parents.


The molded fiberglass Eames by Herman Miller dining chairs are also from his parents. Originally they were white, but his dad painted them red, way back when, to match the rug. The chimney for the gas insert fireplace is clad with narrow, dry-set stone tiles with a velvet finish. Triple-glazed fiberglass windows are super energy efficient while allowing for large expanses of glass. The wood paneling and window frame interiors are finished in a maple veneer, which blend almost seamlessly with the bamboo floor.


McCarthy chose a fiery red mosaic tile for the kitchen backsplash, that they also used in a bathroom. The cabinetry, built by Furniture Design Services, is bamboo.


Four LEM Piston stools line the island, which has a bowed Silestone countertop. Light pours in from above, and the floor is cork.

Japanese Inspired Entryway Screen

Architects Reisen and Hermann, who co-designed the home, came up with this gorgeous design for the entryway. A slatted wood screen separates the front door from the stairs. The same design is also used as a drop ceiling, behind which are recessed lights that bathe the entry in a warm glow. has windows facing east, south and west, bringing in natural light that changes over the course of the day. The light colored maple slats reflect and soften this light as it is filtered through the screen from the stair tower into the entry.

The front door was custom made for the house, with a flush mahogany exterior face to complement the exterior finishes of the house, and a flush maple interior face to match the maple finish at the entry. The door dimensions are larger than a typical door to provide a substantial entry with a minimalist look, and was fabricated with a matching glass sidelight. McCarthy chose slate tiles—actually hand-picked every one, and laid them out, tile by tile until she the pattern was to her liking.


The walls and ceiling of the deck are lined in wood, lending a sauna-like feel to the outdoor space.

Red and White Tile Bathroom

The downstairs bathroom got red tile details; the same tile as the kitchen backsplash.

reisen-design-mud-bathPowder room.


Pretty white guest bathroom with green mosaic tile details.


Master bath. The tiles behind the tub are highly textured.

Contemporary Architecture Home in Lexington Massachusetts

A covered porch leads from the outside into the entry space. The dining room is straight ahead, the living room to the left, and kitchen to the right.


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S H O P  the P O S T

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