Design New England

Classics at Shafer O’Neil Interior Design


This entry to a house built by Payne|Bouchier Fine Builders uses an updated take on the classical arch and column motif to create a timeless look.

Now and Future Classics

The first definition of classic is “of the first or highest quality, class, or rank.” The last definition is “of or adhering to an established set of artistic or scientific standards or methods.” We think both apply to the examples we saw at our recent Spring Design Salon, where asked our presenters to discuss “Now and Future Classics: Creating designs that will stand the test of time.”



Judy O’Neil Labins of Shafer O’Neil Interior Design used a blend of old and new classics to create an inviting room with an Old World flavor. Modernist gold tables mixed with traditional lamp silhouettes add warmth, interest, and an elegant modern touch.

Judy O’Neil Labins of Shafer O’Neil Interior Design, our host for the evening, is an advocate of mixing old classics with newer, more modern elements as a way to create a timeless look. In one example, she used modern occasional tables with Lucite legs and bright gold tops to bring a fresh element to a room dominated by a dramatic classic painting. The room’s floral wallpaper also demonstrated her penchant for bringing elements of nature into her designs. She emphasized that the relationship between design and nature is key to creating that coveted classic look.



This home by architect D. Michael Collins was designed to evoke memories of a summer lake house.

For Michael Collins of D. Michael Collins Architects in South Natick, Massachusetts, favorite childhood memories can be the impetus for designing a house. His goal, he said, was to take good, classic memories and designs from the past and reinvent them in a way that is functional in the 21st century. Looking forward, Collins predicts that a hardy, maintenance-free design will become a classic in the future.


Classic woodwork done by Samuel McIntire is restored and preserved by Payne|Bouchier Fine Builders.

Oliver Bouchier of Payne|Bouchier in Boston has a simple philosophy about creating and preserving classics: “You can’t go forward without looking back.” His company is well experienced in the reproduction, restoration, and preservation of older, classic pieces. An outstanding example is the work they have done to restore the woodcarvings of Samuel McIntire, the renown late 18th- and early-19th-century architect and woodcarver from Salem, Massachusetts. Bouchier said one way to emphasize the Federal-style architecture is by simply preserving the exquisitely detailed woodwork, which can blend beautifully with modern accents in an updated house.



Sleek, simple, and clean, this landscape by Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design is timeless. (See more in our March April 2013 issue “One + Only.”)

On a similar note, taking cues from what has stood the test of time is the basis of Matthew Cunningham’s strategy for creating new classics. His firm, Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design of Winchester, Massachusetts, designs durable, elegant, but not overly stylized outdoor spaces that often use stone walls and classic furniture, or even a restored boot scraper by the front door, as touchstones to the past.

Jump To Comments


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on