September 21, 2021 4 min read

You can feel the history as you stroll down the streets of Newburyport. Historical landmarks are everywhere, but even the places that don’t bear that mark still have an heir of history. Classic New England architecture and styles like divided lights are everywhere. It’s a feeling that we know and love. But it’s also something that presents a challenge. Everyone wants to preserve that feeling of history, but we also want our homes to feel modern and stylish. Crane Properties has shown us that you can do both.


When Shawna Dos Santos of Crane Properties came across this 1800s home, she knew she had to have it. She immediately had a vision for the design and was able to bring it to life one step at a time. This project on State Street is not a historical home, but they went to the historical board anyway, because they wanted everyone to know they wanted to be a part of the community and work with them. The goal was to create more space but keep the same feel.


There was a lot of work to be done, the entire home was gutted, except for the staircase. The renovations also required tearing down a part of the home and building a small addition with a 2 car garage. While they wanted it to feel old, Dos Santos wanted to update the style a little. The result is a beautiful New England Contemporary space that looks just like Home.


Generally, when Dos Santos is working on a project she has to make all her decisions ahead of time for clients. This time, they were able to see what worked best with the space and make changes on the fly without having to get approval from a client. Her design flourished under this creative freedom.


One telltale token of New England architecture is the divided rooms.  While this was once crucial for preserving heat, building science has come a long way. Having a little more room to move around and gather is far more desirable than a bunch of small cramped spaces. One of the modern concepts that Dos Santos wanted to bring in was the open concept. Creating a flow from the living room to the kitchen but still maintaining them as separate areas. The living room bump out helps establish them as separate spaces. By continuing the same flooring throughout, they were able to maintain a cohesive design.


Unlike many older homes, this one boats 11’ ft ceilings on the first floor. The high ceilings helped create a sense of light and space. The windows are 6’ tall Marvin Elevate Double Hung windows. The 2-over-2 design is a great example of New England Contemporary style, staying true to divided lights without obstructing the view.


The kitchen is located at the rear of the home. Away from the noise of the street and opens with a Marvin Elevate Sliding French Door to the back deck. Dos Santos chose the more modern inset cabinetry style from Shiloh but stuck with more traditional colors. These beaded inset doors are quarter-sawn oak on the island and an Arctic White painted finish on the wall cabinetry. Choosing white for the walls created the opportunity of a blank canvas when it came to decorating. Except for the downstairs study.


The study was painted black to create an accent space. The dark room with the wainscotting on the walls adds a lot of character. Although the walls are dark, the room doesn’t feel small or cramped. The large windows let in light and maintain the bright feeling felt throughout the home. Next to the study is the staircase, this was the only feature that they left intact. Its classical style and design tie the home strongly to its New England roots.


The second floor holds 4 bedrooms, a laundry room and a guest bathroom. The primary bedroom comes with a large soaking tub in the bath, accented with a brushed gold faucet, and a large walk-in closet.


The basement walks out to the 2 car garage and the mudroom. Keeping all your stuff out of the way of the living space, but also close at hand for coming and going from the home. There is an extra room downstairs that can be converted to a gym or office.


Projects like this are special. Working with older homes can be a challenge, but they also offer so much character and depth. Crane Properties chose to work with the Historical Board in Newburyport, even though they didn’t have to. They wanted to stay true to the neighborhood. To breathe new life into this building, but stay true to its original architecture and community. They didn’t have a buyer in mind throughout the process, but one came to them through their Instagram community. The buyers had seen their work and trusted Dos Santos' creative process. The result is a beautiful new old home and a very happy family.


Windows and Scenic Door by Marvin

Cabinetry by Shiloh
Semi-Custom, Arctic Paint on Maple, Straw on Quartersawn White Oak

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