Text by: Tiffany Carboni, editorial contributor
When you buy a house built in the 1760s, you have to anticipate a few renovations. For designer Thomas Buckborough’s Acton, MA home, the first rounds came in the 1800s, and unfortunately for Buckborough and his wife, people tended to be significantly shorter back then. “The kitchen had a six-and-a-half-foot ceiling,” says the certified kitchen designer.
The couple had no desire to destroy the house’s heritage or footprint, though they wanted to make it more comfortable for modern day life. As a compromise, they eliminated the second floor over the kitchen’s wing, creating an airy 14-foot ceiling that showcases the original rough-hewn beams and posts.
Buckborough, who became his own client, introduced only materials (both new and old) that possessed patina-like qualities that would blend with the house’s existing components. The floors came from an old factory in New Bedford by way of Long Leaf Lumber. The scars and dirt were sanded as minimally as possible to attach the finish. Though new, the custom birch cabinetry was painted by Painting by Design with multiple layers that start with a metallic paint and end with a glaze to give it an old world feel. Though laborious, the process is well worth it to Buckborough who loves the metallic glow that shows through both the perimeter’s wood tone and the island’s green hue.
The counters running along the perimeter are concrete colored and acid-etched by Stone Soup Concrete. The drain board grooves were given a contemporary twist, or more accurately a wavy pattern that pays homage to those crafted back in the day. The sink’s concrete basin and apron front also puts a new spin on an old tradition. Similarly, the 9’ by 3.5’ island features tried-and-true end grain butcher block from Grothouse Lumber Company, but in a generous overhanging slab to comfortably accommodate up to six chairs.
The backsplash was painted by family friend Catherine Winship to mimic the murals of famed New England artist Rufus Porter. Above the stovetop, a custom copper hood by Handcrafted Metal houses a restaurant-grade motor perfect for all the couple’s cooking and entertaining. Another modern-day upgrade is the motorized Marvin clerestory windows on what would have been the second story that now open via a convenient wall switch.
To eliminate the need for recessed lighting, which would have been tricky in the tall ceiling, Buckborough chose a cable lighting system by Tech Lighting that disappears letting the Murano glass pendants from LBL Lighting take center stage.
Next to the integrated Jenn-Air refrigerator, the open bar offers a Sub-Zero wine fridge and under-counter beverage fridge to keep things ready should guests pop in. When it’s just the Buckboroughs, the breakfast nook creates an intimate space to plan or reflect upon the day.
This house may have seen many generations over the centuries, but with fixes here and there, the house has served all of its occupants well.