Project Spotlight: The O’Sullivan Home

Paula and Dan O’Sullivan own something of a rarity in urban Somerville: a farmhouse-style home. They loved the house when they first saw it six years ago, largely because of the two generous porches and its location on a quiet lot at the end of a private way.

They liked the interior, too, but knew it would need some work someday. There was no master suite, and the one full bathroom on the second floor wouldn’t be enough to accommodate the couple and their three kids for long. They could also see that the downstairs would benefit from a more open floorplan and a mudroom to handle growing volumes of kids’ clothes, shoes and sporting gear.

“After living here for about five years, we got a good sense of what we needed and what type of improvements would make the biggest impact,” Paula says. “We were happy with some work Custom had done for us at our last place, so we decided to talk with them again.”

Putting a Plan in Place
Paula and Dan had a number of conversations with Custom president Bill Farnsworth. He helped the O’Sullivans come up with a plan that would address their key objectives while also meeting their targeted budget. The project kicked off last fall.

“It was really valuable to get Bill’s insights during the planning phase,” Dan says. “We bounced ideas back and forth, and he opened our eyes to some interesting possibilities we  wouldn’t have considered otherwise. And it was nice not to have to spend extra money hiring an architect.”

The most dramatic part of the renovation came upstairs, in what had been a playroom. Custom vaulted the ceiling and also took out a stairwell to make space for a bathroom and walk-in closet. Trade subcontractor VIP Tile & Marble Design did a meticulous job tiling the bathroom floor, walls and shower. The crowning touch — a stained glass window above the shower — came courtesy of a savvy eBay purchase by Paula.

Opening Up the Downstairs
Custom opened up the downstairs by taking down a wall between the living room and stairway and widening a doorway between the living room and kitchen. Bill recommended the O’Sullivans speak with Carlisle Wide Plank Floors in New Hampshire about options for the living room and TV room. They chose solid hickory planks with 7” face widths, whose dramatic details have lent additional character to the rooms.

Off of one corner of the kitchen, there was initially a bathroom, which has been replaced by a pantry with plenty of storage space. Off the other corner was an unfinished pantry along with the stairway that was removed to create the master suite. Custom transformed this space into a bathroom, closet and mudroom. Given that the work was completed in the heart of the winter, the O’Sullivans have already gotten plenty of use out of the mudroom. “It’s been a big help for corralling winter coats, ski boots and kids stuff,” Dan says.

Now that the project is complete, Paula and Dan are getting a chance to enjoy their remodeled home — and pick up on some of the finer points of Custom’s work.

“I give [lead carpenter] Dave Surrette a lot of credit for his attention to detail. You can really see that in things like the carpentry work in the mudroom and how he blended in the wainscoting in the kitchen with what was originally there,” Paula says. “He’s also a really calm guy, which makes all the difference in a large remodeling project, and clearly knows how to manage his team.”

“We couldn’t be happier with our experience with Custom,” Dan adds. “From the office staff to Dave and the other workers onsite to the trade subcontractors, everyone was responsive and a real pleasure to work with.”