Before: The Original Garage Front ViewThe changing needs of their multigenerational family inspired these homeowners to call Slocum Hall Design Group to design an addition to their 1930’s Colonial home on West Newton Hill. The young physicians with two children wanted to create spacious quarters separated from the main house for the grandmother who moved in to help with childcare, while also adding to the utility of the garage.

Before: The Original Garage Side View


The primary aesthetic directive was to work with the existing exterior and create an addition that blended seamlessly with their home in both form and function. Working with both generations, we added features that made the new in-law space both aesthetically pleasing and functional for an active woman in her 70’s, looking to age in place. We took design cues from the existing home to make the large addition feel like it belongs utilizing synthetic slate to match the roof of the main house and borrowing other prominent design elements. The result is a two-car Garage with a separate-entry Mudroom on the main floor, a comfortable in-law apartment on the second floor, and an updated exterior that blends perfectly with the home’s 1930’s aesthetic.

After: A Sympathetic Garage Addition

After: A Mudroom, Garage and In-Law Soace


Historic Preservation AwardSlocum Hall Design Group was recently selected for a Newton Preservation Award by Historic Newton and the Newton Historical Commission for the design of a residential addition on Forest Avenue. The panel of judges noted Slocum Hall’s design as “a thoughtful addition that uses the details and materials of the existing house to balance the asymmetry of the original composition nicely.” Awards were given Wednesday, November 12th at a ceremony honoring several local recipients for their commitment to Newton’s historic preservation.

To preserve the historic integrity of the home on Forest Ave, Slocum Hall Design Group used materials that accurately matched the time period and replicated details found on the original house to seamlessly integrate the old with the new. This included harvested brick from the original house in the new addition to create a consistent look and feel. The home is now in its second full century, with a modern addition that honors its ties to the past.

“The challenges we faced were ones that we face on any old house project. Houses of this vintage can be a Pandora’s box once you open the walls and see how it was constructed almost 100 years ago,” commented Leah Cohen Lamkin, Slocum Hall’s newly appointed partner.

“Slocum Hall Design Group is dedicated to the preservation of New England’s treasured antique homes and living history,” added David Boronkay, founder, principal, and partner. “We felt that this project exemplified what the award is intended to highlight – bringing an old home into the modern era while safeguarding the unique features and architecture from its past.“

See our portfolio for more information on the Forest St. project.



Modernizing century-old heating systems

Modernizing century-old heating systems

Our project on Bellevue Street, Newton was originally built in 1876 and substantially modified in 1895 to become the gilded age mansion it is today. For all intents and purposes the home was built with all the modern conveniences of that era. All the skylights and windows were fully operational to take advantage of its perch atop a hill. Heating a home of this size with high ceilings is certainly a challenge. But the behavior of heated air has never changed, thus the spaces were made comfortable for all seasons. The home is now being brought into this, its second full century, using modern heating and cooling systems seamlessly integrated into the structure of the home as to not impact its aesthetic value.

The home was originally heated with a gravity fed, steam system.  The convector boxes which were mounted under the floors of the Main Level Rooms provided heat to the formal spaces.  In an effort to preserve the pristine oak floors, original to the house, we have installed an under-mount radiant heating system to take the place of the less efficient convector units, maintaining the historic, brass grilles of the convector units as supply vents for the chilled air.  The bedrooms and bathrooms on the second and third floors that previously used the gravity fed steam system on a loop to radiators has been replaced with dual boiler units and a system of heated water that now circulates to the secondary bedrooms, which maintain their original radiators adorned with new soapstone tops.  All the newly renovated bathrooms on the upper floors as well as the Master Suite have been retrofitted with radiant floor heating to maximize thermal comfort.  The bigger challenge we were faced with was to provide chilled air to the nearly fourteen thousand square feet of finished space.

Ducted cooled air will be supplied to each room through discretely located ducts. The eave space of the third floor houses nine air handler units; these provide ducted air to spaces on the second floor of the house, while all the air handlers for the Main Level are located discretely throughout the Lower Level.  The previously unfinished basement has been converted into additional family living space; we removed the existing concrete slab of the basement and installed under-slab radiant heating, allowing for a reduction in the vertical chases through the historic home.

The large outdoor condenser unit for the homes air conditioning is cleverly tucked under a stone terrace and is hidden from view with period inspired ironwork that allows for optimum air flow.  Be sure your neighborhood power supply is appropriate for the system being specified.

Call or email us today for more information.


There is a significant inventory of Tudor style homes in the outlying western suburbs of Boston, many of which were constructed in the early 1920’s.  Needless to say, some of these homes are quite outdated.  In addition to the finishes in these homes being out of style, their layouts are not ideally suited to the way we live today.  Tudor style homes tend to be a bit dark and very compartmentalized; small kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms tend to be the norm, which is the antithesis of what today’s homeowner is looking for.

Forest St. Tudor --  Before

Forest St. Tudor — Before

The challenge with our current project is one that we have faced before. Like our project on Kenrick Street the property owner wanted the exterior revisions to the home to feel organic and the new and the old to meld seamlessly. On our Kenrick project, like the one on Forest, we harvested brick from the portions of the house we demolished and utilized it on the public elevations; the line of new and old is blurred. Additionally, using copper gutters and ridge caps further helps the home feel more original.

Forest St. Tudor --Mid construction

Forest St. Tudor –Mid construction

Making the exterior revisions look natural is only half the battle, manipulating the interior spaces to preserve their antiquity while allowing them to function for the way we live today can also be a challenge.  Many Tudor homes in the Newton area were poorly revised in the 80’s and 90’s, and the modifications that were made to them denuded them of their original details and in-turn have made them feel even more dated than the ones that have been left untouched. Fortunately this home was left significantly in-tact, so it provides us the opportunity to preserve (and highlight) the original details like the wrought iron and oak staircase as well as the cast stone mantles.

Our goal for the interior program on this project aligns with our philosophy on many of our renovation projects – for the flow of the house and its amenities to feel current but respect its history and antiquity in the process.  Our revisions to this house include doubling the size of the kitchen, adding a cathedral ceilinged family room, enlarging the master suite to include his and hers walk-in closets and a large bathroom as well as three additional bedrooms all with en-suite bathrooms. In addition, we are adding a three car garage with a dumbwaiter up to the kitchen.  Once completed, the street elevation of this home will look like a refreshed version of this 1920’s gem, but the interior will function like a house built today.



Honoring the history of a period home while attempting to make it function for modern living can often pose some challenges.  Our current project on Bellevue is a large-scale example of how to respectfully adapt a gilded era mansion for the new millennium.  While preserving its historic merits this home needed to provide its owners, a young family of six, the functionality and convenience of a home built today.

In essence, this project, like our project in Dedham is part restoration, part renovation and part addition.  For the restoration portion, we are painstakingly preserving the formal spaces of the house; the Drawing Room, Double Parlor, Dining Room and Billiards Room will all appear as they did when the house was constructed at the turn of the century.  All the decorative plaster walls, mahogany wainscot and built-in furniture are to remain, while behind the walls the house is being brought up to the current electrical and fire codes, as well as being wired with smart home technology and outfitted with a residential elevator.  Additionally, the house which was not efficiently climate controlled, is being outfitted with a 19-zone heating and cooling system (there is so much more to say about the HVAC in this house, that it is best left to an entirely separate blog post).

The renovation portion of the project happens in the less formal zone of the house; the Kitchen, which was originally intended for staff use, was undersized and detached from the rest of the main floor.  Considering the amount of existing square footage we had to work with, we devised a plan to expand the kitchen zone along the entire rear of the house; eliminating two pantry’s, a back staircase and reclaiming a porch space which had been enclosed in the 1920’s as a Breakfast Room.  Without extending beyond the granite building envelope, we were able to reconfigure the existing space to function for today’s living.  More of the renovation phase is seen in the Basement space, which had been previously unfinished.  This zone is going to feel completely modern and will be the informal entertainment hub of the house; a family room, gym, home theatre and hair salon are going to be carved out of the fully-walk out portion of basement, leaving the subterranean portion for the vast utility services required to run a home of this scale.  Additionally, all the existing bathrooms are going to be fully renovated in a style that references the period of the home.

East ElevationThe addition portion of the project occurs off the back of the house.  The supplementary space will contain an attached three-bay garage with a bonus space above, which will serve as both a play space for the four children and as guest accommodations.  A large mudroom serves as the connection between the garage and the original house on the lower level and a new terrace will connect the kitchen to the bonus space on the main level.  The challenge of adding additional space to a house of this vintage and stature is creating a seamless integration so that the addition does not appear out of place in its scale or material selection.  To address this in our design, we have replicated details and materials that are found on the original house; we have sourced reclaimed Milford Pink granite that matches the stone perfectly and are having casts made of the existing balusters, cornice board and dentil moldings to have them reproduced in a resin product, which will stand the test of time more so than a wood product.

When faced with a project like Bellevue or Dedham, where the owner desires additional space while preserving the historic aesthetic of the home, taking cues from the existing house and respecting its history is often the most effective and aesthetically pleasing path.