Jen & Michael’s Modern Retreat

published Jun 8, 2010
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Names: Jen, Michael, Eva & Esme
Location: Lexington, Massachusetts
Size: 3,000 square feet
Years lived in: 2

Remember the story of the city mouse and the country mouse? The country mouse envies her sister’s riches, but eventually chooses a life of safety and ease in the country over the wealth and danger of the city. The fable aptly describes artist Jen’s search for the ideal home. A little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, Jen found the perfect balance of contemporary styling and pastoral setting in the modern enclave of Peacock Farm.

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Following on the heels of Walter Gropius, Peacock Farm was a planned community of mid-century modern homes founded by architect Walter Pierce in the 1950s. Unlike traditional New England dwellings that face the street, the Peacock Farm homes were set into the natural landscape and designed to adapt to the sloping lots. Jen’s split-level typifies the style with its flexible floor plan, large unobstructed windows, and lower levels set in various depths of the grading. Originally conceived as space-efficient, low-cost housing, the original 1958 structure was seamlessly expanded by Pierce (who still occupies a nearby house) in 1992.

For help designing the interior, Jen turned to friend and noted interior designer Rachel Reid, whose own Lexington home was featured in a 2009 Boston Globe article. Reid’s expertise proved invaluable in choosing furnishings that addressed the family’s need for comfort and durability while staying true to the home’s modern aesthetic. The combination of thrift store finds, high end goods from Boston show rooms, and iconic mid-century pieces give the home the eclectic, contemporary feel Jen and Michael were going for. The neutral walls provide a perfect backdrop for showcasing Jen’s colorful artwork, which is featured throughout house.

Not surprisingly, Jen’s favorite elements are outdoors, where multi-level decks provide ample opportunities for enjoying solitude, gathering with friends, or observing a glorious sunset. In such bucolic surroundings, it’s easy to forget that downtown Boston is a mere 20 minutes away. But that’s exactly what Jen and Michael most about their home. Like the architecture itself, they are challenging the traditional notion of family life as a frenzied, outward-focused event. In this beautiful, but laid back abode they have created a modern retreat that is as complementary to their personalities as it is to their lifestyle. Who wouldn’t be inspired by that?

Visit Jen’s web site for more information on her fine art and children’s books.

To learn more about the modernist enclaves of Lexington, read Mid-century Modernism in Lexington or visit the Modernism in Massachusetts blog.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our style: Contemporary, loft, eclectic

Inspiration: Living, Etc. and Dwell

Favorite element: Corner couch looking outside and hanging chair on porch

Biggest challenge: No mud room!

What friends say: Friends love being here in the early evening while the sun is setting.

Biggest embarrassment: Cluttered entrance

Biggest indulgence: Living room couches and hot tub (about to be put in).

Best advice: Keep it sparce and clean.

Dream source: Flea markets, Montage, Design Within Reach, Showroom

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Resources of Note:



    • Table from <a href="<a%20href=" http:>Montage in Boston
    • Chairs from Showroom in Boston
    • Credenza from Design Within Reach
    • Painting and encaustics by Jennifer Goldfinger and Ingrid Ellison


    • Flea market furniture, chairs covered in Ikea fabric
    • Breadbox from Anthropologie
    • Painting by Diane Wiencke
    • Collage and encaustic by Jennifer Goldfinger


    • Master bed from Conran’s
    • Kids furniture from West Elm and CB2
    • Paintings by Jennifer Goldfinger


    • Wicker furniture from Season’s Four in Lexington
    • Hanging chair and chaise lounges from Ikea


    • Walter Pierce was the architect for both the original house built in 1958 and the addition built in 1992.
    • Interior design by Rachel Reid of Reid Design, Inc.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Jen & Michael!

Images: Ronee Saroff

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