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


3-d images3D Modeling is a tool used by Architects and Designers as a fast and affordable way to represent a project accurately. For homeowners, it provides true-to-life images of their design that, until that point, could only be imagined.

When a design professional works on your new home, renovation or addition, typically, Plans and Elevations are provided telling you how big it is, and where and how it sits on your site. They are 2-dimensional, single line drawings that show the metrics of your project and provide some idea of how it will look. 3D modeling shows clients a more complete visual story; it’s a polished and interactive visual representation of the final product. Any changes or alternate views can be made easily to the 3D image.

There are many 3D modeling tools available. We like Google Sketch-Up. In the hands of a design professional, it gives our clients the opportunity to imagine what life will be like in their new space.

Contact Slocum Hall Design Group for more information and to discuss your project.


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.


Communicating With Your ArchitectWhile many designers and architects can help realize the spatial and visual aspects of your dream home, renovation or addition, having skills in communication, including responsiveness, is key to a successful project. It is what makes the process run smoothly, provides peace of mind and leaves you with a positive memory of the experience – all because it is a project managed correctly.

Yes, communications do sometimes need to be managed. Clearly, at the outset of a project, establishing communication leads to effective decision making. The who, the when and the how become just as important as the what in the context of successful project management. Who should be the point of contact for all groups involved? There are often several additional stakeholders (ie. The home’s many occupants who should be copied on correspondence). How and when become important in regards to your schedule and the pace of the project. Time of day and frequency of communication can be more organic with the use of email, but perhaps you prefer to be contacted by phone or in person, this can all be managed easily once objectives and expectations are clearly stated from the beginning.

Having spent nearly 15 years in commercial Architecture with large-scale projects and corporate clients, I have learned the benefits of effective communication and its positive impact on successful projects. I bring to your project a broad knowledge and deep skill set that will add value to your project and to the process of designing your dream home.

Communication can begin with a phone call. Call or email us today.


Dressing RoomsIn recent years, we have seen the generously sized walk-in-closet, which was the standard in many high-end residential master bedrooms, morph into an entirely new kind of space. A simple 8×10 foot room equipped with shelves and double-tiered rods was previously sufficient for a couples’ clothing storage needs; those times have changed.

The closet of the new millennia is not just intended for the storage of clothing, it is used for so much more. It is a space for women to entertain their guests while artfully displaying their couture gowns, shoes and bags. Spaces generous enough to be a bedroom are outfitted with custom specie hardwood cabinetry and decorated to reflect the style of its occupant.

As the glamorous lives of Hollywood starlets are documented and beamed into our living rooms; their elevated standards of living have become the envy of many women; those not just for your clothes and shoes any longer.

Several of our current projects feature elaborate dressing rooms that perform an array of different functions; while all provide ample storage for clothing, shoes and accessories; some embody unique features custom-tailored to their users. Whether it is a wet bar for cocktail service, a built in espresso machine, a hair blow-out station, an elevated platform with a three-way mirror for dress fittings or a sitting area to entertain guests while preparing for an event; these spaces have become a hub of social activity.

Depending on personal style, these spaces can serve as an art gallery to showcase vintage Chanel or a signed pair of Louboutin’s, or a tranquil Zen-like escape from the hectic life of the modern woman. Either way, the Dressing Room has become the woman’s answer to the man-cave, only the 70” LED television with surround sound and automated chairs has been replaced with Recamier lounges, custom wardrobes and couture.

Looking for a modern day fem den?  Contact us at Slocum Hall Design Group


Gym[1]Many of us find it difficult to muster up the motivation to go to the gym before or after a busy day of working.  The weather’s too cold or too hot; there’s traffic; the gym’s too crowded. Whether these obstacles are real or imagined, there is a perfect solution: create a space in your house where you can work up a sweat without having to endure the elements or deal with the general population.  Showing up to the gym is so much easier when it’s only steps away.

In recent years, many of the new homes and additions we have designed for our clients include home gyms programmed into the scope.  These spaces range in size from a designated corner of a basement to a 600 square foot room, clad in mirror with every possible piece of equipment.

Planning for a home gym in the early phases of construction is key, as many pieces of equipment require significant in-wall blocking.  TRX systems, pull-up bars, ballet barres, along with other bodyweight apparatus need to be affixed to the structure of the building to provide the necessary stability.  Retrofitting an existing space to accommodate such items is possible, though addressing it while the studs are exposed is ideal.  Additionally, many pieces of equipment require above average ceiling heights.  It is important to make sure that you have ample head room for an elliptical machine or a treadmill – especially if you plan on incline running; these pieces can add well over a foot to your normal height.

Beyond the structural requirements, home gyms also demand a significant amount of electrical power.  It is important to know what pieces of automated equipment you are going to include so the proper loads can be worked into the electrical program.  Designing an equipment layout for your gym space is something that should be done in the planning phase as well.  Floor outlets can be placed adjacent to equipment so that power cords do not become a tripping hazard.

If you are interested in installing a home gym space, there are many factors that need to be considered. Be sure to hire an experienced architect.  Call or email us if you’d like more information.


Residential Elevator

A residential elevator, combining function and style.

Providing functional layouts for today’s lifestyles often includes planning for parties, special events, general home maintenance and aging in place. You may be wondering how all of these varied topics are connected in the context of home design. Residential elevators is the commonality. While dumbwaiters have been common for many generations, more and more often houses are being planned with an elevator.

The inclusion of a residential lift is easier than it seems. Required pit depth at the lowest level can be as shallow as just one foot and models are made specifically to be retrofitted into older homes. While a small machine room closet is needed at the lowest stop, this can be accommodated into an entry area. Planning guides are available on most manufacturer websites and manufacturer representatives are available, but the best way to know if your lifestyle and an elevator are a good match is to consult an Architect.

A residential lift looks nothing like its commercial relative. The door is a regular swinging door that opens to the cab and divided by the gate. Many finish options are available to match existing interiors or to coordinate with newly designed homes. Also many manufacturers’ offer blank cabs that can then be clad in panels; the options for these panels can be modern, traditional or transitional to meet your desired aesthetic.

Including a residential lift will assist you and your family with everyday tasks, contribute to easier party and event planning and allow you to remain in your home as you enjoy all of life has to offer. With proper planning, installing this modern living mechanism will add value and functionality to your home.

Call or email us today if you’re considering a elevator for your home.


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.


Getting Personal With Your Design Team

Getting Personal With Your Design Team

Before any plans are drawn for your renovation, addition or a new-build,      sharing your dream starts the process. From that point it only gets more personal.  Helping you realize your vision means understanding some of the intimate details of how you live your life day to day, on special occasions, what’s important to you, and what is not. An architect will be in areas of your home not often shared with people outside your immediate family to take detailed measurements, pictures and other documentation.  This full understanding contributes to an architect’s ability to lay out a space or series of spaces for a successful outcome.

Before you communicate your vision for the perfect bath or describe your family’s habit for eating at the coffee table, it’s important to feel comfortable with your design team.  Trust is crucial when selecting and working with an architect.  You want to be confident that your privacy will be respected and your wishes honored.  The best design teams have thoughtfully considered all of your expectations and even your apprehensions of being in the private spaces of your home to make your vision a reality.

Knowing you and your family’s life, spending time to understand your design aesthetic, and working with you to create functional spaces, are all part of what we do at Slocum Hall.  Get to know us better. After all, designing your home is best when we get personal.