AT Boston: Back to the Modern (or Walter Gropius Would Have Loved IKEA)

This is from our second Boston finalist (a team), Wes & Kayla. Comment away!

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As designers living in Boston's classic brownstone apartments we must continuously find creative ways to meld the old with the new, like adapting traditional bay windows with our sleek BluDot couches. This is the reality of living in New England—looking forward without disrespecting history...

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But few people realize that part of Boston's history includes the beginning of modern architecture in America. In 1937 Walter Gropius, Bauhaus founder, came to Harvard to teach economy of form, expressive use of materials and that the most elegant solutions could also be economical and practical. In short, Gropius would have loved IKEA.

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For modern New England inspiration, get a Zipcar and make the 20-minute drive from Boston to Lincoln where Gropius built his family home. The Gropius House is a great example of melding past and future, local vernacular and modernist ideals. Traditional clapboard siding is turned vertically and used as interior wall covering alongside modular cork tile floors. Early Breuer and Saarinen furniture designs fill the living room against a backdrop of rural New England, framed within large plate glass windows. The house is the epitome of small and cool.

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Boston may seem slow to shed its colonial red brick skin but historic examples of Modernism abound—when you know where to look. If you make the trip on a cold winter Sunday you may just get the hour-long private tour like we did.

Directions and visiting hours

- Wes & Kayla

(Thanks, Kayla & Wes!)

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.