Isabella Stewart Gardner’s charming summer home is rekindled for a young Boston family

The first thing she noticed was that in space, the rooms seemed symmetrical and traditional. “Being too balanced is not where I want to be because it can make a space feel like a static space. Anytime we can create a comfortable little imbalance that’s a good thing, ”she explains.

The office retains much of the character of the old house, but also incorporates modern elements.

Photo: Michael J. Lee

To achieve this effect, Elms first extracted bushels of fabric and carpet samples, more than she normally would for a simpler two-piece project. “It took a while to put everything together because we needed what was new to blend well with what was already there. His first move was to replace the existing small rugs with large rugs in both rooms, giving a cohesive look.

In the husband’s office, she added bold sculptural lighting and flat Roman shades in a tonal pattern, and covered the walls with a heathered Pollack flannel. Four angular purple chairs accompany a bespoke backgammon table by Linley (husband and son are both great table players), while an untitled work by Austrian artist Svenja Deininger draws inspiration from the exterior columns of the House.

A detail of the Gracie Designs wallpaper in the living room.

Photo: Michael J. Lee

The living room walls were already lined with a delicate hand-painted Gracie pattern that channels the centuries-old vines climbing outside the house. “I wanted to keep the feel light and ethereal, but also bring in a bit of contemporary,” says Elms. The family piano has been moved across the room to create two separate seating areas.

During the design, Elms envisioned the woman and her friends lounging around the pale pink alpaca wool banquette after dinner, sinking into its plush, padded seats. A chandelier, discovered at the Chahan Gallery in Paris, adds an industrial touch and ties the room together with more mint green.

“These days it’s an open house,” Elms says. The kids do their homework or practice on the piano, and the family plays backgammon together at the office. Would Ms. Gardner, who valued classical antiques and notoriously demanded that her museum be preserved exactly as it is, cringe at seeing these changes at Green Hill? Elms thinks not. “She was in everything new and interesting. I would like to believe that she would even be interested in contemporary art.

The serene living room embraces pastel tones and soft textures.

Photo: Michael J. Lee

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