TEXT BY MICHAELA CAVALLARO
PHOTOGRAPHED BY RACHEL SIEBEN
Saving this house was an incredible endeavor, much harder than I would have ever guessed,” Will Crosby says. Boston transplants, Crosby and his wife, Kathy Simmonds, were the only bidders on the 1907 Peaks Island Foursquare at a 2013 auction. One engineer recommended knocking it down on account of significant structural issues. Instead, the couple spent a year and a half working with island residential designer Rachel Conly and builder Heather Thompson, who have since cofounded Juniper Design + Build, to shore up and winterize the structure and add a dormer. “This house has an extraordinary amount of meaning to people on the island,” Crosby says, noting that a previous owner was a beloved grandmother figure. “A lot of people remember coming through for cookies or parties. If you level that, a lot of good feeling and history goes with it. Saving it means you’re adding 100 years of history to whatever you create.”
Crosby and Simmonds commissioned a Welsh artist— whom they discovered by googling “cool stained glass” — to create a window depicting a seagull, a dragonfly, crows, and plants inspired by the island. Mexican rescue dog Goosey stands in the shade of an impressive ficus in the sunny space.
Conly and Thompson took inspiration from the couple’s lovingly renovated Boston Queen Anne, particularly when it came to the kitchen layout. What Conly describes as a “ribbon of windows” overlooks big gardens and a stand of maples bordering the neighboring lot. Crosby bought the cast-aluminum sign for $20 when The Splendid restaurant, formerly on Portland’s Congress Street, was being disassembled in the early 1980s, then shortened it to fit the space. An experienced carpenter, he’s currently building a new base for the maple butcher-block island.
The large pantry — “more space than we need,” Crosby says — let the couple forego upper kitchen cabinets in favor of maple shelves and windows that beam light through the open-plan first floor. The ladder, which leads to a trap door in 14-year-old Pi’s room, delighted friends when he was younger.
Walls rendered in burnt-orange glass tile and Benjamin Moore’s Wind’s Breath showcase the full spectrum of sunset shades seen throughout the house — a theme that developed by happenstance as the couple made decorating decisions. A glass shower surround and slim fixtures make the most of the room’s limited square footage and low clearances.
The bedroom reverses the home’s dominant and supporting shades, featuring Benjamin Moore’s Pale Sea Mist on the walls and tangerine accents. “We had tapped out on orange” as a bold gesture, Crosby says. The shadows cast by David Trubridge’s bamboo Coral Pendant “make you feel like you’re sleeping under a canopy of trees.”
Crosby ordered “ugly knockoffs” of Finnish designer Alvar Aalto’s iconic stools from Amazon, then built and painted new tops that echo the shapes in an Angela Adams rug. Thanks to Thompson’s expertise in energy efficiency, the home needs just two heat pumps and a Morsø woodstove to stay toasty year-round.