Tour a Classic New England Colonial With Major Style

Go behind the scenes at this traditional New England Colonial-style family home renovated with a modern twist.

April 01, 2020
By: Jeanine Hays and

Photo By: Sarah Winchester

Photo By: Sarah Winchester

Photo By: Michael J. Lee

Photo By: Sarah Winchester

Photo By: Michael J. Lee

Photo By: Sarah Winchester

Photo By: Sarah Winchester

Photo By: Sarah Winchester

Photo By: Michael J. Lee

Photo By: Michael J. Lee

Photo By: Michael J. Lee

Photo By: Michael J. Lee

Generations of Design

Erin Gates is the name and creative mind behind Erin Gates Design. The Massachusetts-based designer hails from Connecticut where she grew up in a design family. Today, she puts her pedigree to good use both as a designer of luxury interiors and the author of two books. She shares her three-bedroom, Colonial home in Newton, Massachusetts, with her husband, Andrew, son, Henry and the two family dogs.

An All-Around Update

Six years ago, when Erin and her husband purchased their home, they did so directly from the daughter of the original owner. Built in the 1940s, the center-entrance Colonial home still had all of its original features and decor, requiring a complete makeover, from top to bottom. "We did four separate renovations and additions, all with my father's architectural firm, which was fun to partner up on," she remembers.

Visionary Design

The last step of the renovation was turning an old porch into a family room. It took some work, but the end result is another of the designer's favorite spaces. "I adore the vaulted ceiling, the beams and the see-through fireplace. It came out exactly how I wanted it to." Filled with her signature style, it's easily one of the most comfortable rooms in the home. "I feel like it has personality without being eccentric or quirky, and elegant without feeling stiff and formal," Erin muses about her home. "I love that it feels polished but comfortable and says a lot about who we are as a family."

Expansion Experts

As the home took shape through multiple renovations, Erin and Andrew reserved the later phases for expanding the home further, taking on external projects like widening the driveway and adding a stone retaining wall. The basement was one of the family's last renovations. It was converted specifically with Henry in mind, and it has the color palette to prove it. As in his bedroom, reds, blues and whites intertwine throughout the space. With an easel for art and fun art on the wall it's the perfect play space for expanding little minds.

The Masterpiece

When it comes to choosing a favorite room, Erin's actually got a few, but her bedroom is at the top of the list. "I adore our master suite," she beams. "It's so spacious and bright with the big window seat and the patterned drapery." Still, designing it wasn't without its challenges. "It was tricky due to varying lot elevations, so there are steps down into the room, which I actually love." Even the large poster bed, which is the centerpiece of the room, had to be custom created to fit the space. "I designed the bed myself to fit into the space within an inch" says Erin.

Welcoming Friends

Like every room in the home, Erin's guest room feels like a comfy getaway. Light, whimsical touches like the wall mural behind the bed only add to guests feeling that they've left the cares of the world behind. "I love that it feels like a cozy sanctuary," Erin says. "I actually have a really hard time decorating for myself," she admits. "I see so many options in my day-to-day work with clients that deciding on something for myself has been hard." Considering that, the guest room is a welcoming and quiet retreat for those who come and visit.

Boyish Charm

Henry's room isn't just bright and colorful. His mom has also made sure that the room is set up for everything he needs. The acrylic bookshelf keeps all of his things in order while also keeping the room looking stylish and neat. On the wall, a tiny skateboard makes a cool piece of wall art.

A Sophisticated Child’s Room

Erin's mastery of neutral tones is evident throughout her home, but when it comes to spaces for her son, Henry, she embraces color in a whole new way. The deep blue wallpaper in Henry's bedroom creates a colorful backdrop against which everything else pops. Matching patterns on the lampshade and window shade and the brilliant pattern of the bright red rug create a visually stimulating space for her son.

Heavenly Stairway

Erin's modern twists are subtle but substantive - little moments that have a big impact on the feel of the entire home. One of the main moments is this stairway leading to the second floor. The massive gallery wall that flows up the stairs is one of the designers favorite moments. "I mixed in fun little antiques, paintings and mirrors to keep it feeling organic," she states. But the star of this vignette is unquestionably the leopard-print floor runner. "My stair runner is a total signature piece," she admits. "I questioned maybe changing it a while ago and the response on social media was pure horror. So it stays."

When Smaller Is Better

The kitchen was also one of Erin's top priorities for the first round of upgrades. Even though it was a complete gut renovation, the designer recalls handling the job with relative ease. "The kitchen was actually pretty easy," she remembers, "because it's small, we didn't have a ton of options." Nevertheless she chose well. In keeping with her New England-inspired style, the light gray cabinetry, metallic pendant lamps and wicker bar stools show why some styles are simply timeless. "This house has had many design redos over time, but I still like what I chose for the kitchen six years later," she says.

Cozy Dining

In phase one of what would eventually become Erin's four-part renovation, the dining room was at the top of the list. "When we first moved in we refinished the floors, painted, and took down the wall between the dining room and the kitchen," she says. To create more space, she opted to fit her new dining room into this cozy nook. Cleverly designed with built-in seating, this intimate dining space can easily seat up to six, with room for a little one as well.

New England Traditional With a Modern Twist

Dubbing it "classical New England traditional with a modern twist," Erin's interiors evoke the perfect coastal getaway with a dash of color thrown in. Her living room reflects this aesthetic beautifully. Neutral tones from floor to ceiling create a sense of instant ease, the colors diversified by a range of patterns and textures. Tongue-in-cheek accessories like the sculpted bust wearing Mardi Gras beads offer a bit of fun while the light blue sofa adds a touch of sky and surf to this sandy-toned interior.

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