Decor, Home

A Remarkable Renovation: 43 Church Street in Westborough

Last summer when we were visiting my parents in Westborough, Massachusetts–the town I grew up in (remember I told you about it here and here?)–I drove past this stunning house on Church Street and it stopped me in my tracks. I just couldn’t believe that I had never noticed it before. Well, that’s because it didn’t look like this when I lived there. 43church 225

Back when I lived in Westborough,  it looked more like this.

43 church as it was

Lucky for me, the stunning house had a sign out front that said So, I checked it out and found the story of how Michael Fitzpatrick (a very talented wood furniture maker) and his wife, Dr. Jean Keamy, had purchased the house with the intention of renovating it and bringing it back to its former glory. I mean, look how gorgeous it was back in 1880.

original house

Their website is great and it shows lots of process shots but I was dying to see it inside, so I emailed Michael and asked if he would let me–and the Sue at Home readers–take a peek. He could not have been more gracious and welcoming so the next time I was in Westborough, Pablo and I went to take a look. (Yes, it’s taken me over 6 months to write this post. What can I say, it’s got a LOT of pictures.)

They brought the exterior of the house back to its original style except for the addition of this porte cochere on the side. No need to Google it. “Porte Cochere” translates to Carriage Porch.  (It’s like a fancy carport.)

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Here’s the back of the house.

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As they were building the porte cochere, some birds decided to make it their home so they continued building around the birds and now they’ve got permanent houseguests. See that little square in the picture below? That’s how their little feathered friends get in and out.

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 Michael restored and built reproductions of all the exterior millwork himself. (See more about that in this video.)

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I especially loved the pale blue painted porch ceiling. Let’s go inside, shall we?

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While they respected the aesthetic of the original structure on the exterior, they opted for a more modern interior with an open floor plan and a focus on function. I loved all of the clean simple furnishings.

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The floating stairs–that connect all four levels–let in tons of light.

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This little sitting area connects the living room and kitchen.

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I love how the color of the mid-century chairs is picked up in the kitchen backsplash.

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The center column in the house, which has a small bathroom and an elevator on this floor, also includes this built-in bookshelf. (Note the wood carved grate. Yup – that was made by Michael, too. It’s the details like this that make this house like no other I’ve ever seen.)

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Here’s Michael showing us the diary of Mary White Forbes that they found in the house.  The entries are dated 1850-1857.

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The kitchen is a story itself. Every single shelf and drawer is completely thought out and made for full function.

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The wood veneer is Black Palm from Ecuador, a renewable resource. (Now’s a good time to mention that 80% of the materials that were taken out of the house at the time of demo were recycled to other homes around New England.)

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Adjacent to the kitchen is the dining room. That low table on the right is one of Michael’s designs made for a show at the Fuller Craft museum.

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Check out these small “floorlights” that connect to the basement below. (Remember those. You’ll see them again.)

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These amazing doors (from Thailand, circa 1780) were bought at auction. They lead to…

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…a small music room in the back of the house.

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Now, let’s go downstairs.  This spooky little pod is the entrance to the future darkroom.

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Of course, we had to go inside.  Here’s Pablo on the other side.

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They’re also working on a screening room that hasn’t been furnished yet. And the little space below is the future wine cellar. See those little skylights? Those are the floor panels we saw in the dining room above.

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I can’t get enough of these beautiful steps. Let’s go upstairs again.

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Here’s another one of those Michael Fitzpatrick grates.

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The entrance to the master bedroom.

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Here’s the TV in the bedroom. On the right is a jewelry box that Michael made for his wife as a wedding gift. This house is a fully wired “smart” house. I think the coolest feature is the keypad near the bed where they can put the house to sleep with the touch of a button: the garage locks, all the lights turn off and the thermostat sets to a predetermined temperature. Need the use the bathroom in the middle of the night? No problem. Motion detectors track their way back to bed and turn off the lights as they’re no longer needed.

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Of course the tub is surrounded by wood.

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Now, let’s go all the way to the top floor.  There’s a large TV room that has a balcony.

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The teak woodwork in the upstairs bathroom was my favorite.

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Out on the balcony, we get a better look at those shingles and the stunning millwork.

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And before we leave, we need to take a look at Michael’s wood shop in the back garage. There are lots of plans to renovate this space next.

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One of Michael’s beautiful veneer topped tables.

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Some more tables with mid-century hairpin legs.

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I’d like to thank Michael for the tour of his beautiful home.

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There are so many other rooms that I didn’t show here because they’re yet to be finished so stay tuned to for Michael’s updates.


Sue at Home


Farewell to Massachusetts

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Since 1979, my parents have lived in the town of Westborough, Massachusetts, a charming suburban town about 45 minutes out of Boston. I lived there until I moved to NYC in 1993 so Westborough will always feel like home to me. But as I told you a couple months ago, they sold their house (more on that here) and they’ll be moving to Clinton, CT (more on that here) as soon as the new house is ready. They moved out earlier this month and our last visit was over July 4th weekend.

westborough map

(Image via Town Maps USA. Check it out – they have graphics for tons of cities and you can order t-shirts to show your hometown support.)

I spent the whole weekend getting really nostalgic and panicky–like I needed to do everything in town before they left.  (Though I never got over to Harry’s or Cheng Du.) But I did stop at my old high school. I always loved the architecture of that building. You can read more about it here.


I had to stop at my elementary school too. (That’s right. It’s called Fales. You got a problem with that?)


Can’t you picture little 7 year old me walking to class?


And of course, I couldn’t say goodbye to Westborough without a visit to the house(s) I grew up. That’s mine on the right (more on that here) and the one in the foreground belonged to my childhood BFF, Jen. Sometimes I think I spent more time at her house than at mine! The day we moved in, I saw her in the driveway so I went right over and introduced myself. We were inseparable for the next 10 years.


I felt like I hadn’t taken advantage of sharing Boston with the kids and though I know we’re not that far away, it just won’t be as convenient to get there as when we camped out at Casa Mimi and Papa. So, I dragged Pablo and the girls into Boston in 95 degree weather to take a Duck Tour. We “pahked the cah” (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) at the Museum of Science and took this picture of the Charles River from the parking garage. Little did we know that Sophia and Lily would be driving our “duck” under that bridge an hour later.


For anyone not in the know, a Duck Tour takes place on this weird thing, sort of a combo of a bus and a boat. The first half of the tour is a guided historical drive around Boston, then the “duck” drives right into the water for a little boat tour. It’s totally touristy but I felt like it was a nice way to see a lot of the city pretty quickly and I would highly recommend it. Bonus: our duck was named Frog Pond Lily. Totally unplanned but totally awesome.


Isn’t Boston beautiful?




Hold onto your seats, we’re going in!


Sing it with me: “I love that dirty water. Boston, you’re my home”.



Despite the sweltering heat, we had a great time touring Boston.

And in other Mimi and Papa house news, here are a few new pictures from the building site. We just can’t wait for it to be DONE!


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8-12-13 Groveway and GW 001 8-12-13 Groveway and GW 002



Sue at Home


Buy My (Mom and Dad’s) House!

Well, this was supposed to be the post where I told you to buy my parents  awesome house, but alas it’s been on the market for two days and they already got a full price offer so I guess it’s too late for you, suckers!

But I’m going to show it to you anyway because you never know if an offer will fall through. (Fingers crossed it all works out, though!)

My parents built their dream house when I was in college and it’s been “home” to me for so many years that sometimes I forget I didn’t grow up in it. It’s in Westborough, MA – the town I grew up in – and the town alone is reason enough to make the house desirable. Check it out.

Welcome to 17 Capt. Samuel Forbush Road.

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My favorite part of the house is the kitchen that flows into a casual dining area (the scene of many a late night card game between me, Pablo and my parents!) and a huge light filled family room that has plenty of room for “The Erneta Invasion”.

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I love baking at their house because the island was built especially low to accommodate my mom’s 4’11” stature. (At 5’1″, I tower over her) It’s the perfect height for stirring!

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As you can see, my mom’s decorating style is the exact opposite a little more traditional than mine, but they have done a great job of creating a timeless space that hasn’t needed too many updates in 20 years.

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A few years ago, they converted the living room into an office for my mom. (I mean, who needs a formal living room anyway?)

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The sunroom was a recent addition but it’s come to be one of our favorite places.

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From having my college friends visit back in 1992 to taking my kids to the house in recent years, we’ve given that pool a lot of mileage!

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This photo doesn’t do it justice but my parents’ master bedroom is enormous. I can’t even imagine how I would decorate a space that big.

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This used to be my room back in college but they’ve since gotten rid of the Michael Jordan posters and the black and white checkboard bedding and turned it into a sweet room that my girls share when we visit.

twin beds mom and dadHere’s a peek at my dad’s “office”, his massive full floor of car-building-paradise. (Complete with his collection of neon beer signs!) In fact, the house actually boasts a SIX (!!) car garage, 3 above and another 3 under that you can reach by driving around the side of the house.

shop mom and dadOh…and did I mention it has an elevator? (Yeah – you know your kids would have a blast with that!)

elevator mom and dad

So, please contact my mom (she’s the homeowner and the realtor) if you’re interesting in making a backup offer. Here’s the listing so you can see all the details.

It’s with bittersweet feelings that I say goodbye to this house. It’s not the house I grew up in but it is my beloved hometown and they’ll be leaving it soon so I’m very sad that I won’t be visiting there as much. But there are greener pastures for my folks. They’re working on building a new house. Oh…and it’s going to be gooooood. There are so many details I’ve been dying to share with you but for now, I’ll just show you an aerial shot of the creepy old house that used to be on the lot.

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And now you see why I’m not too upset to see the Westborough house go, right?

Lots more details on their new house soon!


Sue at Home