This Is Light
Expansive windows and doors helped this architect achieve her goal of maximizing natural light while also bringing the outdoors in to her family’s home.
Long before Laura Weibley’s epiphany in the brand experience showroom at Marvin at 7 Tide she was tapping into her superpowers to create dazzling homes. The former Pfizer biochemist moved to the states from England at 25, shortly after ripping the ceilings out of her first renovation project, a tiny cottage in Eastry, England, where she exposed beautiful wood beams and discovered her calling.
“I was doing all the renovations myself out of necessity since I was on such a tight budget after purchasing my first home, but it soon became my passion,” Weibley says of flipping houses, a labor of love she continued while working at Pfizer and becoming a mother of three children. She navigated eight home renovations before casting her eyes on a parcel of land in Crow Point in Hingham, Massachusetts, six doors down from the home she shared with her husband, Greg, and their family.
The spot overlooking Hingham Harbor was the perfect place to build their family’s dream home. Although it was a complicated lot, Weibley had the vision to build a home where natural light filtered through from dawn until dusk. Before she locked down the final plans for the home design with architect Jonathan Aprea, she visited the brand experience showroom at Marvin at 7 Tide.
“The biggest design elements we both wanted to maximize were not only the views to the water, but also to design a space that brought the outside in,” Aprea says.
In the showroom, when Weibley saw a projected image of the doors and her ceiling height to scale with her grille pattern, a light bulb went off.
“I recall thinking we should do an 8-foot-tall door to maximize the natural light and also to be in proportion with the 9-foot ceilings. Being able to see the simulation life-size at Marvin gave me the confidence to decide to go with the taller doors and reframe all the interior openings,” Weibley says.
Seeing her plans projected in real-time allowed Weibley to see how much space there was between the ceiling and the original 7-foot door and window design.
“She was able to text her architect and double-check her decision,” says Rachel Backstrom, brand ambassador at Marvin at 7 Tide.
Backstrom works with clients like Weibley to explore new ideas and help them make design decisions they can feel good about. After seeing the images, Aprea agreed with the change.
“As an architect, to a fault, I originally designed the doors to maintain a uniform head height for the trim to align in keeping with the home’s more traditional design aesthetic, but with a bit of tweaking, we were able to make the larger doors work, which looking back really makes those spaces.”
The new footprint not only graced the home with an infusion of natural light and felt more proportional, but it made the house feel grander, according to Weibley. Designing an airy home with an abundance of natural light that allows the family to watch the sun rise and set every day is a gift that Weibley cherishes, given that construction began in March 2019 and was completed in April 2020 just as the coronavirus pandemic was sweeping the country.
“We were unbelievably fortunate to be able to enjoy so much time together in our new home,” says Weibley, who is grateful that her children have plenty of space and light to live and play in, along with a tube slide to a playroom.
Laura custom-designed the home with her family as the centerpiece, building a huge mudroom with tons of storage at the entrance to accommodate three active children. Ten-foot basement ceilings for tumbling parties, a breakfast nook that can seat a dozen children, and a guest en suite for relatives and friends from abroad are a few of the details that eagerly await post-pandemic gatherings.
“It’s been incredibly sad not to see my family during the pandemic,” says Weibley, who pays homage to her homeland with a map of London in the warm living room that also features a wood-burning fireplace.
When asked which of the rooms is her favorite, she replies, “It would have to be the family room. It is flanked by French doors by Marvin overlooking Hingham Harbor and a slider opening up to the pool. It’s where we spend most of our evenings as a family.”
While being both the general contractor and the interior designer of a home is a daunting undertaking, Laura says she used the organizational skills she mastered at Pfizer including developing timelines, budgeting and working with a team to manage the project along with the instincts she trusted with her first project, the tiny cottage in Eastry, England.
During the pandemic, Weibley spent a lot of time being with her family, unpacking, decorating and coming up with new business ideas. It’s no surprise that she will be soon launching an innovative home design business that will offer customers stylized bundles of home furnishings, décor, and accessories. The business, Swoonly, will be much like a Stitch Fix for the home.
“I’ve learned by switching gears from biochemist to general contractor that it’s never too late to pursue your passion,” she notes.
When asked if she is planning another home renovation or construction project for her family, Weibley laughs, “I would absolutely do another project, but it feels like we are here to stay.”
This story first appeared in New England Living Magazine.