A Cure for the Colonial Blues: Bauhaus-Inspired Brilliance in Massachusetts

  • Built-in table and booths

    Built-in table and booths

  • Third-floor master bedroom

    Third-floor master bedroom

There isn't much modern architecture in Acton, MA, a small town about 20 miles northwest of Boston. You'll find typical New England housing stock: farmhouses, Colonials, and ranches.

One of the owners of this Bauhaus-inspired modern now listed for $965,000 grew up in the town, and while she didn't leave Acton, she definitely didn't want to live in the same old, same old.

"The wife initially lived in a nondescript Colonial," listing agent Kevin Balboni says. "She hated the layout. She wanted something open, cheerful, and minimalist in its form, function, and design."

The cure for the Colonial blues? This intriguing home, which the sellers had custom-built in 2000. It's a 3,984-square-foot design resembling the handiwork of the Harvard Five.

It has all the hallmarks of the modern look: white walls, wooden flooring, lots of windows, sharp angles, and even some built-in furniture. A dining nook in the kitchen holds two built-in wooden benches and a table with a single leg. And the top-floor office, adjacent to the master bedroom and bathroom, has a wall-length, built-in desk.

Balboni can't pinpoint the inspiration behind the house, but he says a few people said it looked like something Walter Gropius might have influenced ( Douglas Graf, the home's architect, didn't respond to an inquiry about the house).

Inside the four-bedroom house you'll find a sunken family room with a 17-foot ceiling and built-in shelving. The kitchen countertops were made of poured concrete, done on-site, and the bathrooms have rubber flooring. "She [the wife] found it softer and more comfortable," Balboni explains. Hardwood oak flooring covers the rest of the home. Plus, there's a rooftop deck.

Looking at the 3.8- acre property from the road, the house looks like a collection of staggered squares and rectangles, and the two-car garage/second-floor studio building looks like a cube. The chimney of the wood-burning fireplace in the main home is an industrial-like cylinder. And, of course, there are tons of windows.

"It's a house that stands out. When you drive down this country road, you kind of do a double take," Balboni says. Modern homes "are very rare here, so it gets a lot of attention."