Mas­cu­line Mas­ter­piece


Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Stephanie Agnes-crock­ett

Ex­plore the el­e­gant so­phis­ti­ca­tion of the bath and din­ing rooms in this ex­quis­ite Massachusetts man­sion.

For Bruce Macaulay, proud owner of a sprawl­ing An­dover Street man­sion, the Vic­to­rian Era has been a nearly life­long fas­ci­na­tion.

“My in­spi­ra­tion of Vic­to­rian de­sign started in my early teens,” he re­calls. Grow­ing up in Mel­rose, which was “loaded with Vic­to­ri­ans,” Bruce be­gan to de­velop a taste and cu­rios­ity for the pe­riod. His in­ter­est in­ten­si­fied in 1976, when his mom de­signed the city’s flag, win­ning the lo­cal com­pe­ti­tion. “I started col­lect­ing an­tiques around 19,” Bruce says. “I al­ways thought they would be time­less qual­ity and a great in­vest­ment.” From there, he be­gan mak­ing larger in­vest­ments, la­bor­ing to re­store an­tique homes to their orig­i­nal ap­pear­ance. “Prior to An­dover Street,” he says, “I re­stored a sim­i­lar style, but far smaller home also in Low­ell.” And af­ter suc­ceed­ing there, Bruce grad­u­ated to an even larger trea­sure, a nearly 8,000 square-foot home that orig­i­nated as twin dwellings.


“In restora­tion, my phi­los­o­phy is ‘take your time,’” Bruce says. “Let the home speak to you.” In ad­di­tion to patch­ing up eleven leaks, he also out­fit­ted the home with mod­ern elec­tric­ity and plumb­ing. This in­cluded adding bath­rooms, which were brand new in­no­va­tions at the end of the Vic­to­rian Era. Nat­u­rally, they weren’t as abun­dant then as they are to­day. “The featured bath­room was orig­i­nally a back hall to a porch that doesn’t ex­ist any­more,” Bruce ex­plains. He styled the room in ac­cor­dance with the Vic­to­rian aes­thetic, mak­ing it per­fectly at home in his pe­riod abode. Even though bath­rooms have un­der­gone sig­nif­i­cant changes since then, Bruce’s seems per­fectly be­fit­ting of a Vic­to­rian gen­tle­man.

When­ever cre­at­ing from scratch, it’s a good idea to know how you want the fin­ished prod­uct to look. Even when de­sign­ing a his­toric space, the time pe­riod of­fers only a gen­eral guide­line, with a more spe­cific aes­thetic fur­nish­ing the greater in­spi­ra­tion. “My vi­sion was a mas­cu­line, yet over-the-top gilded mas­ter­piece,” Bruce says. To this end, he used dé­cor and ma­te­ri­als that were con­sis­tent, both chrono­log­i­cally and stylis­ti­cally, with what he had in mind.

He se­lected rich wood for the cab­i­nets. “Ma­hogany or wal­nut dec­o­ra­tive cab­i­nets with mar­ble tops were com­monly used in the Vic­to­rian Era,” he says, adding that he dis­cov­ered his own cabi­net, iron­i­cally enough, on­line. The ma­te­rial, in ad­di­tion to sup­ple­ment­ing the bath­room’s mas­cu­line look, also matches the cur­va­ture of Bruce’s stair­case, lend­ing ar­chi­tec­tural unity to the home. The stair­case, un­like the bath­room cabi­net, is orig­i­nal to the man­sion.

The sim­ple semi-cir­cle mir­ror is an an­tique East Lake, a prov­i­den­tial yard sale find. Bruce se­lected re­pro­duc­tion gasolier (gas-op­er­ated chan­de­liers) to il­lu­mine the space. These lights, though not orig­i­nal to the bath­room, are crafted to fit the space’s style. Bruce re­stored the lovely stained glass door and in­stalled rich mar­ble wain­scot­ing for the floor.


"Kitchens in this era were plain and util­i­tar­ian," Bruce says. "My kitchen went through a two-part process." First, he in­stalled the tin ceil­ing crown mold­ing and con­structed the mas­sive hood that vents the stove. To do so, he had to re­move a washer and dryer that had oc­cu­pied the space. Next, Bruce worked to make his cab­i­netry flow with the Vic­to­rian pat­tern. "In the Vic­to­rian era, kitchen cab­i­nets were


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