How to Cure the Renovation Bug?


The renovation of Geoff and Liz Caan’s home in Newton, Mass., has been a 16-year work in progress. Since the couple purchased the 1920s Georgian-style brick home in the Chestnut Hill historic district in 2003, Ms. Caan, an inside designer who favors rooms bursting with statement-making colour and sample, has hardly ever rested.

Renovating and redecorating the rooms one after the other, she has overhauled some areas greater than as soon as to swimsuit her altering tastes and the shifting dynamics of her household of 5.

“It’s like a little laboratory” for design concepts, mentioned Ms. Caan, 51. “I think your home should evolve with you.”

When she and Mr. Caan, 50, a managing director at SLC Management, moved in, she determined to preserve the kitchen cupboards, however added black-and-white striped wallpaper and painted the flooring a vivid red-and-white diamond checkerboard.

A couple of years later, she changed the venetian blinds with black shutters, swapped the nickel pulls and plumbing fixtures for brass ones, and repainted the flooring with a sample of interlocking hexagons in two shades of blue.

Last 12 months, she repainted the flooring once more, in Farrow & Ball’s electrical Yellowcake.

“I loved it at first — it’s very bright,” she mentioned, noting that her aim with the flooring has all the time been to divert consideration from the cheap cupboards that got here with the home. “It’s funny, because people always love the kitchen, but it’s really kind of junky.”

The household room has undergone such in depth modifications that repeat guests could possibly be forgiven for considering they have been in the flawed home. “When we first did it, it was light yellow, pink and green,” Ms. Caan mentioned. “It was winter when I did it, and I was in this kind of Palm Beach-y mode — like, ‘Get me out of here’ — so I made it look very tropical, light and summery.”

That lasted 5 years. Then she “threw everything out and started over,” coating the partitions in a deep emerald inexperienced and banishing the pink accents.

Then, two years in the past, “I just felt like I was more in a blue phase,” she mentioned, so she repainted the partitions a high-gloss aqua and added cloud-patterned Fornasetti wallpaper to the ceiling.

And don’t get her began on the front room.

“It’s had 500 different furniture arrangements — I just keep playing with it,” she mentioned, to accommodate the furnishings and equipment she acquires. Recent additions embody a 19th-century English secretary that belonged to Mr. Caan’s mom (now used as a bar) and a taxidermy zebra mount from SafariWorks Decor.

Stuck indoors throughout a snowstorm final winter, she all of the sudden felt impressed to give the room a salon-style gallery wall. “I decided to gather all the art that was lying around,” she mentioned. “I just started to hang stuff and added little charms and things to fill in the spaces.”

For Mr. Caan, the redesigns generally double as exercises. “I do help with some of the heavier lifting,” he mentioned, “literally, in terms of moving things around.”

But he welcomes the modifications. “Prior to this house, we lived in different cities, in different apartments and houses,” he mentioned. “With this, you get a whole change without moving, so it’s refreshing.”

Of course, there have been much less glamorous enhancements alongside the means. The Caans changed the heating system, going from oil to pure gasoline. They completed the basement. They mounted drainage points exterior, and added a bluestone patio and fence. They changed the gutters and constructed a brand new driveway.

Between the flurries of renovation, there have been just a few moments of relative calm. “I take breaks,” Ms. Caan mentioned, recalling the time in 2016 when she completed renovating the three bedrooms and two bogs — the master bedroom and rooms for the couple’s daughter, Lilly, now 19, and youthful son, Leo, 12 — on the second flooring of the three-story home.

“I did the whole second floor at one time and then took a couple of years off,” she mentioned.

But like a dormant virus, the renovation bug all the time comes again. “I wake up one day and I’m like, ‘Oh, that fireplace surround is awful, and I can’t live with it for another day,’” she mentioned. “Then I make some phone calls, and it’s gone.”

When their older son, Henry, 24, left for school, she wrapped the partitions and ceiling of his third-floor room in black-and-white, gingham-patterned wallcovering to make it a extra welcoming retreat for visitors.

Over the years, the Caans have paid contractors a complete of about $430,000, Ms. Caan mentioned, estimating that they spent the same quantity on the adorning (and redecorating).

And they’re not finished but. For 2020, she has massive plans.

“The kitchen and the dining room will be changed,” Ms. Caan mentioned. “I’m going to open them up to become a larger kitchen-dining area.”

And the place there at the moment are kitchen banquettes, she plans to add a powder room. She additionally intends to open up the again wall with massive home windows and doorways.

Then it may be time to give the home one other break. “We’ve been chipping away at it over the years,” she mentioned. “It’s getting there.”

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