mad men revisited 03/2013

Restoring a Mid-Century Modern House in Lincoln, MA


Who ever said that pleasure wasn't functional?
Charles Eames


Photo Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, MASS,9-LIN,16-2


Mad Men helped bring the 1960s design vibe back into fashion. Sarah and Jon Rapaport asked us to bring Sexy Back to their newly purchased 1967 era house in Lincoln designed by local architecture firm Soep and Berliner. Modern design with its low pitched roofs, open floor plan, and large windows opening to nature became popularized in the late 1930s when Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius burst on the scene with his iconic residence also in Lincoln. This brilliant house combined cutting edge design ideas like ribbon windows, cantilevered entry canopy and flat roofs, with traditional New England building materials like field stone walls and cedar cladding.


By the time the Rapaport house was built, modernism had evolved from the Gropius era, to incorporate the rural vibe of Lincoln with spectacular exposed wooden beams and deep overhangs. There were advances in construction techniques as well. In the 30 years between the Gropius house and the Lincoln house being built, architects improved the performance of houses through better insulation, advanced water proofing membranes, and heating systems to make a house comfortable, even with large expanses of glass.


Our job was to respect the structure of the original house, but to edit out the rustic tones of flagstone floors, dark stained wood, and bring back the spontaneity of the Pop era. Tall openings were introduced between the kitchen and living room to create the perfect balance between an open kitchen and avoiding the tyranny of seeing dirty dishes from everywhere. Dark grey cabinets contrast with the white stone counters and vintage wall tiles from Heath Ceramics.  Light grey cerusedoak floors create a subdued tone to tie the composition together. Cable mounted accent lighting was added between the beams to freshen the ceiling cavity.

Historic New England Gropius House

Heath Ceramics



Lincoln House Rendering