moody

Stay-at-home design: Bright gathering spaces and moody nooks for study and work

Jacquelyn Burke and Jeremiah O’Connor finished reading the Harry Potter books to their son and daughter, ages 7 and 8, during the COVID-19 shutdown this spring. The 18-month marathon took place in the tucked-away space at the top of the stairs (no, not underneath) next to the kids’ craft table. The 42-square-foot reading or “nap nook,” as the family calls it in honor of its somniferous effect, boasts a window seat made from a twin mattress wrapped in tweed, built-in bookshelves, and soot-colored shades. It’s painted in Sherwin-Williams Basil, a cozy shade of saturated green. “We’re a family of readers who love to be home,” Burke says. “It was important that the rooms be comfortable.”

Burke, an attorney who traveled frequently pre-pandemic, also wanted their Milton home to be stylish and clutter-free. She hired interior designer Sarah Scales to pull it together. Absorbing ideas from images of rooms imbued with dark, moody colors that Burke admired in British design magazines, Scales presented a concept that encapsulated it all. The gathering spaces in the core of the home would be bright and light, punctuated with brief moments of color that echo those in the retreat spaces, which are done in deeper tones. “She loved the idea of going from bright white spaces to darker adjacent rooms,” Scales says. “We repeated colors for visual connection.”

The entry and dining room are crisp and spare, but polished. “It looks elegant but not untouchable,” Burke says. That the room sits at the heart of the house is not by happenstance. “We wanted one central table, not a formal dining room off in the corner,” Burke says. By that reasoning, the couple also skipped the ubiquitous breakfast nook. Architect Diane Lim, who designed the New England-style farmhouse on a lot ceded from the property of

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