KATRINA AND LUCA MAESTRI were introduced during a business meeting in Tokyo, then spent the last 18 years living — and renting — around the world, from Singapore to Sao Paolo. In early 2011, ready to put down roots, the couple purchased their first home together — an 1894 Victorian overlooking the harbor in Manchester-by-the-Sea. “As the kids got older,” says Katrina, “we wanted more stability.”
Luca, who hails from Rome, and Katrina, who’s from the American South, loved the idea of settling in this New England hamlet, which they discovered through friends. A main draw was the nearby Landmark School, “a great fit for my daughter’s creative/dyslexic learning style,” says Katrina. After they had looked at about 40 houses, this one came on the market. Owned by the same family for 100 years, it was in sad shape. “I could feel what it used to be,” Katrina says. “I was excited to uncover its soul.”
With only seven months left on the lease of their rental, the Maestris hired local architect John Olson of Olson Lewis and Carl Anderson of Anderson Contracting Services to rehabilitate the home. Katrina says: “John and Carl took off running without full plans. They were great sports.” Olson says Katrina had a clear vision and worked closely with him to steer the design. Still, it was a challenge to stay one step ahead of construction. Olson says, “We’d ask Carl what part of the house he would be working on next, and that’s what we’d design.”
It was a major gut renovation, but the basic layout remained intact, save for dismantling what was once a servants wing in order to open up the kitchen, making some changes to facilitate views, and realigning doorways so rooms flowed freely. They were able to preserve much of the original interior woodwork, along with the home’s seven fireplaces. A veranda, complete with a pair of gazebos, was added as a nod to Katrina’s Southern heritage.
Next, Katrina tackled the interior design, using color as the main attraction. When she ran her ideas by friends, they told her that her color choices — bright turquoise and plum — were unorthodox for a traditional New England home. So when she met Beverly Farms-based architectural color designer Kimberly Collins Jermain at a dinner party, she hired her to help refine the palette. Jermain thought Katrina’s predilection for strongly saturated hues was spot on, given the scale of the home and the fact that it gets plenty of light. “Katrina knew what colors her family enjoyed,” she says. “I helped put them in place within the context of the whole house.”
They say home is where the heart is. For the Maestri family, color plays just as big a role. For them, it wasn’t home without a turquoise room. “The only thing I could do to the rentals we lived in was paint, so we became very bold,” Katrina explains. She first used the color back in 1998, in a bathroom in Bangkok. Next, it was a private elevator foyer in a Brazilian penthouse, followed by a double-height entry in Munich. Now, in their new house, the family room would be treated to turquoise. Jermain introduced Katrina to California Paints’ Historic Colors of America, where they found hues that, though bold, were appropriate to the house’s period. For the turquoise, they chose Phillips Green.
The family room, which sits off a gracious foyer painted soft gray and lit by a contemporary glass chandelier, gives visitors an immediate glimpse of the home’s dramatic palette. The library, off the other side of the foyer, is done in California Paints’ Plum Island, an equally saturated hue, fulfilling Katrina’s dream of having “a glossy purple library.” The color is so rich visitors often think the paneling is finished in a dark stain. As in the family room, the walls set off crisp white slipcovered furniture.
In addition to silvery light fixtures, slashes of black and white, a recurring theme throughout the home, anchor the rooms. In the conservatory, for instance, the couple installed a black and white marble floor, against which a bold red Chinese table they bought in Thailand really pops. Carved Indonesian doors hung on the conservatory wall are echoed in the home’s formal living room. There, the carved over-mantel of the fireplace is actually an Italian church door from the early 1700s. Ancient Thai warriors flank the fireplace below graceful modern-day sconces.
It’s this eclectic melding of old and new as well as the carefully considered palette that make the home spectacular. Katrina says her goal was to infuse the house with joy again while connecting with its distinguished history. “Along with color,” Katrina says, “we added a lot of cultural references. It probably shouldn’t have worked as well as it did, but it’s very personal, and it feels like home.”