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Your Home | Design Refreshers

Floor plan improvements and stylish furnishings transform a Brookline home

For a whole new feel, all it took were updated furniture and minor tweaks to improve flow.

“I don’t think we’d ever do two sofas in matching colors,” says designer Tom Egan of selecting a brown one and a blue one for the living room.
sean litchfield
“I don’t think we’d ever do two sofas in matching colors,” says designer Tom Egan of selecting a brown one and a blue one for the living room.

Margaret Chu-Moyer and Mike Moyer just wanted help updating the furniture on the first floor of their Brookline home, where they’ve lived with their three sons for just over 10 years. They also got a vocabulary lesson.

Designers Josh Linder and Tom Egan of Evolve Residential introduced the couple to the word “enfilade,” a term that describes a row of rooms with doorways that align. It also describes their reconfigured space. “The original layout wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t good in any way,” says Egan. Linder adds, “They weren’t using all their beautiful rooms.”

Chu-Moyer deems the reconfiguration “brilliant.” With some relatively small tweaks, the designers established flow and connections from one room to the next. Says Linder, “Even in our most contemporary interiors, we start with a classic layout.”

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On the left side of the house, the view from the entry carries straight through the family room and out a picture window that replaced a massive gas fireplace. “The window transformed that end of the house,” says Linder, referring to newly abundant, much-needed sunlight. The grand piano Chu-Moyer grew up playing tucks into a nearby niche, allowing a custom sectional large enough to hold the entire family to take center stage. Linder says of its striated verdigris- and plum-colored velvet upholstery, “The multiple colors and movement [are] forgiving, making it ideal for a family gathering place.”

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The layout on the right side of the house perfectly illustrates enfilade. The living room, dining room, and kitchen run front to back, linked by newly widened cased openings. A gut renovation maximized every inch of the kitchen. Quartzite countertops with wavy horizontal veining are a lower-maintenance option than marble, and the wood-lined breakfast bar hides coffee paraphernalia.

Chu-Moyer loves the cool shadows cast by the spiral chandeliers, which hang from red cords above the kitchen island. She also appreciates the way Linder and Egan incorporated pops of red to reflect her Chinese heritage. “Because of the enfilade, you see the chandeliers when you sit in the living room, which is the most traditionally furnished [area],” Egan says. “They throw three tablespoons of contemporary into that side of the house.”

Anchoring the dining area is a curved settee designed to hug a round table the couple has owned for 30 years. “Dining rooms can feel austere and intimidating,” Egan says. “Upholstered banquettes or settees entice people to sit there, either alone or with friends.” The family used to eat at a narrow table pushed against the kitchen island. Chu-Moyer reports that they now use their dining table daily for eating and working. Egan says, “I told them that would happen, and they didn’t believe me.”

Beyond the utility of the dining room, Chu-Moyer adores the view across the living room, at the symmetrical vignette — an antique Biedermeier chest flanked by a pair of striped chairs with swooping sides — before the front window. Incorporating a key antique is an Evolve Residential signature. Egan says, “When you see 200-year-old wood, you realize its value.” Linder adds, “Once we showed them, it really resonated.”

A mixed-media piece by Michelle Y. Williams from Jules Place hangs on the wall above Chu-Moyer, in a Sloop chair by Amy Somerville.
sean litchfield
A mixed-media piece by Michelle Y. Williams from Jules Place hangs on the wall above Chu-Moyer, in a Sloop chair by Amy Somerville.
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In the living room, seating and side tables mix to create a look that is equal parts welcoming and refined. A curved custom settee upholstered in textural midnight blue chenille sits opposite a squared-off, tufted rust mohair sofa. “We like plush fabrics for their great range of color, which makes them easier to pair with other fabrics,” Linder says. Ceramic garden stools add bulk to the diminutive coffee table, and an abstract artwork by Ken Sloan injects a lighthearted touch.

By all accounts, the Persian rug pulls everything together. The designers always finish with the rug, rolling out a few different options after every other element is installed. Egan likens rug day to an HGTV moment. He says, “It makes it seem like we work magic.”

Chu-Moyer is still amazed at the effect. “I would never have picked that rug, which has purple accents, to go with a blue sofa and a brown sofa,” she says. “But once it was rolled out, it was like, ‘Wow!’”

RESOURCES

Interior Design: Evolve Residential, evolveresidential.com

Contractor: Roberts Design and Construction, robertsdesignconstruction.com

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Painting: Painting Peter

Wallpaper Hanger: Leahy Painting

Drapery & Pillow Workroom: PMK Designs

MORE PHOTOGRAPHS:

sean litchfield
Classic furnishings and colorful accents help transform the family room.

The kitchen counter stools by Munna are upholstered in navy mohair velvet by Pierre Frey.
sean litchfield
The kitchen counter stools by Munna are upholstered in navy mohair velvet by Pierre Frey.

When homeowner Margaret Chu-Moyer spotted this Waterhouse Wallhangings wallpaper in Evolve Residential’s portfolio, she asked if it would work on the entry ceiling. Designer Josh Linder says, “I was shocked and delighted that she threw the idea out there.”
sean litchfield
When homeowner Margaret Chu-Moyer spotted this Waterhouse Wallhangings wallpaper in Evolve Residential’s portfolio, she asked if it would work on the entry ceiling. Designer Josh Linder says, “I was shocked and delighted that she threw the idea out there.”

In the entry, a blackened steel sconce by John Beck Steel hangs above a lacquered console table by Oomph.
sean litchfield
In the entry, a blackened steel sconce by John Beck Steel hangs above a lacquered console table by Oomph.

In the family room, Michael Hoffman’s Noche Barcelona hangs over an antique cherry butler. Egan designed the built-in roll-top desk.
sean litchfield
In the family room, Michael Hoffman’s Noche Barcelona hangs over an antique cherry butler. Egan designed the built-in roll-top desk.

FOR MORE YOUR HOME | DESIGN REFRESHERS FEATURES:

  Hair-raising contractor horror stories — and how to avoid them

  Combining properties turns a Mission Hill brownstone into one family’s dream home

  A young designer transforms her three-bedroom East Boston fixer-upper

  Rehabbing an Arts and Crafts-style stunner in Harvard Square

  From cookie-cutter spec house to a family-friendly refuge

  Floor plan improvements and stylish furnishings transform a Brookline home

Marni Elyse Katz is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.