Finding a vintage Victorian home in need of loving repair was sort of like deja vu for Laura Ogden when she moved to Boston. She and her family had honed in on the northern Boston suburb of Winchester after relocating across the country from Mill Valley, a woodsy town just over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The two locations shared walkability, a town center, and lots of character—and the two homes felt like long lost sisters. The family had left an 1890s Victorian only to find an 1880s one with original clapboard and brick. It was dated, dark, and choppy… but it was nothing Ogden couldn’t conquer.
“When we saw another home of the same vintage, I just knew it was ours. I love those styles of homes and the detail you get,” Ogden says. Having always loved design and renovating, it wasn’t until moving into this house that Ogden thought about making a career of it. Fortunately, her new neighbor happened to be Liza Kugeler, a designer who was coincidentally renovating her own home at the same time. The two started bouncing ideas off one another—quite literally running pillows, fabrics, and accessories up and down the street—and within two years, the pair launched Realm Interiors.
Collaborating is at the very heart of Ogden’s nature and intuitive design process. In the beginning stages, she consulted her cousin, Wichester local and interior designer Elana Rudiger, who could help infuse some innate east coast sensibility. Together, they gave the proper entry an airier feel with textural grasscloth wallcoverings, hanging lanterns, and vintage rugs which Ogden loves for their global patterns and ability to hide everything: “You could mix these all over your home, and they just talk to each other!”
Next, they took on the living room, dividing it into part formal sitting room and part lounge/game area. For decor, they highlighted the traditional architectural details with a mix of furniture—some with traditional shapes; others with lighter materials such as rattan, which lends a more casual, California feel. For upholstery, a wide Ikat-ish stripe puts a different take on the classic Boston prep pattern, while oil horse paintings from Everything But The House and whimsical Jonathan Adler accents add to the modern town and country vibe.
“Laura is a great collaborator—she comes to the table with a fun vision and an open mind. She’s also a great mixer of styles: She isn’t afraid of color and a little bit of quirky,” Rudiger says.
As was the case with her west coast home, Ogden immediately wanted to open up the lower floor plan to bring in light and a more family-friendly flow. Reconfiguring rooms also allowed her to create a mudroom (a cold weather necessity) for a more natural transition off the garage. A wood bench and cubbies give her two school-age kids room for backpacks and hockey bags—a newfound sport for these now New Englanders. She used seaside blue wallpaper in an abstract design, which she favors “because you don’t tire of them as much.”
While working through her kitchen remodel, Ogden looked to local cabinetry expert Bespoke of Winchester to help her pull off the “modern steam punk” look she wanted. Together, they replaced the dark cherry cabinets with white, using black trim for the window casements, hammered brass hardware, and oversized hood pendants for drama. Bespoke brought her whimsical, fantastical aesthetic to life with a custom hood that Ogden calls “Darth Vader,” and balanced the industrial elements with a custom wood hutch, hand painted in Benjamin Moore Notre Dame.
“Laura had recently renovated her previous home, and knew she wanted to use the same painted brick tile she had used there for her backsplash,” says Melinda Guglietta, principle of Bespoke. “She also knew that she wanted open shelves versus upper cabinets. She was open to the challenge of having to keep all of her dishes and glassware organized at all times!”
When it came time to style, Ogden’s burgeoning Realm business partner really had fun. Upstairs in the turret (the original master bedroom), Ogden’s “highly imaginative” daughter Ginny got her own creative space. Original tiles on the fireplace set the tone for the color palette—a breezy, boho combo of teal and coral.
A four-poster modern baroque bed is paired with preppy ticking stripes and John Robshaw linens piled on top. The duo accessorized with artful wallhangings, heirloom books, and a colorful window seat for daydreaming. A cheery print of the Golden Gate hangs on the pale pink walls as a postcard to the past.
Son Dayton’s room takes an even more Californian spin with deep blue walls and orange accents—punchier shades when compared to his sister’s color palette. Wild ocean photographs above the bed wink at both coasts, while his grandfather’s desk provides a vintage workspace, adorned with old books and a modern task light. The kids’ shared bath also goes bicoastal, thanks to under-the-sea inspired aqua wallapaper by Cole & Sons.
The same hues pop up again in Ogden’s built-in workspace, where chinoiserie (which she calls the ultimate east meets west print) provides a seat for her to collect her thoughts and ideas… something that’s become very important lately. With clients spanning several states, their barely-a-year-old-business has caught the eye of people all over the country, and it’s mostly thanks to the duo using their own homes as test labs.
“Liza and I began dreaming and scheming together from the day we met, and our homes are the first places in which we were able to bring our styles and vision to life!” says Ogden.
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