One of the great joys of remodeling homes on the North Shore of Boston is working on some beautiful homes built over decades or even centuries. The homes, along with the homeowners, are always interesting and different, particularly in how they incorporate authentic New England style into their spaces. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at some different New England home styles to give you ideas on how to remodel or update your North Shore home.

Some tips before getting started on your design

  • Don’t limit yourself: Don’t feel like you have to pick one design style for your entire home (or even room). Taking elements from multiple design styles and tastefully mixing and matching is what gives you your own personal style. It’s important to be thoughtful and make sure there is a cohesive direction, but have some fun with it!
  • Find inspiration: Once you’ve found a style you want to move forward with, research what others have done and gather ideas. Draw inspiration from websites, magazines, our blog, and even friends and family. As you go about your day, be on the lookout for things you like in that style and think about how you could integrate them into your own plans.
  • Always make sure your choices are functional: Above all else, you are improving your home to live in it. Make sure any choices you’re making are going to be functional and are not for purely aesthetic reasons. Anything you add to your home should either complement or improve your lifestyle.

Work with a local design-builder 

The last thing to do when making big changes to your home’s design is to partner with an experienced design-build contractor who knows the homes of your area and how to make these designs work. When you collaborate with experienced teams, you’ll know that your remodels will come out looking like they’ve been a part of your home for generations. 

At Godfrey Design-Build we have a wealth of experience with the many different types of homes on the North Shore. We love integrating these styles and helping our clients achieve a home they love. Contact us today to learn more. 

7 of our favorite New England design styles 


When you think of New England, is there anything that comes to mind quicker than the brisk coastal wind coming off the Atlantic? Here on the North Shore, this is particularly true with our vibrant seaside communities and beachcomber culture. 

Coastal design invokes the natural world with colors and materials, including blues, natural hues, rock and stone, and other raw materials. Additionally, natural light and linen furniture give coastal design a bold minimalism. 

 Some key elements of coastal design include:

  • Natural color palette with an emphasis on whites and blues
  • Weathered and distressed finishes
  • Sea glass and marine life
  • Wooden coffee tables and accents
  • Linen and wicker furniture


This design style is one of the most popular in New England (and in much of the country) given its elegant balance of modern and traditional elements. 

Borne of the warmth of traditional design and the clean lines of contemporary design, the transitional style is meant to evoke a feeling of familiarity while also being freeing.

Common characteristics of transitional design are: 

  • Minimal accents 
  • Modest window treatments 
  • Neutral flooring
  • Simple, clean lines


If casual and comfy is your vibe — and here in chilly New England, who doesn’t love a comfy and casual vibe — cottage design might be perfect for your space. 

Meant to evoke a certain humbleness, cottage design presents an informal and airy interior to reduce stress and present that cozy feel.

Cottage design also celebrates imperfections, so an emphasis on precision styling is less crucial. It’s a great way to show off your family’s personality!

Common characteristics of cottage design:

  • Pastel palettes
  • Unorthodox painting (such as a painted metal bed frame)
  • Open shelving
  • Presentations of collected items
  • Old-fashioned flooring


Unlike farms today, farmhouses in old New England were often concentrated in small areas in communities. The spirit of these farmhouses has now transferred over to the farmhouse interior style.

These homes tend to center around a sense of returning to nature — think wood, other raw materials, and highlighting the natural world. Often these homes feature low ceilings, gardens, and fireplaces.

Common features of the farmhouse design style include:

  • Open kitchen with a farmhouse sink
  • Sliding barn-style doors and chalkboards 
  • Vintage furniture 
  • Natural light 
  • Wood-heavy decor


Centered around that log cabin you dream of in the woods, rustic design sources inspiration from the rich aesthetic of nature.

While old log cabins don’t offer much in the way of modern amenities, rustic design is intended to evoke the feeling of living minimally with the luxuries associated with life today.

Some common characteristics of rustic design include:

  • Weathered materials 
  • Earthy & warm colors 
  • Outdoors-themed items 
  • Exposed beams
  • Animal fur rugs and accents


When you think modern New England class, you’re likely thinking contemporary design. This design style is rooted in sleek lines and solid colors.

While there is a subtle boldness in contemporary design, the main tenet of this design style is “less is more.” This allows the simple forms and sleek lines to come into focus, which then allows color and statement to come through furniture and other design features. 

Some common contemporary design features include:

  • Neutral colors 
  • Open floor plans
  • Bold furniture
  • Natural light and big windows
  • Large artwork


In an area steeped in so much history, it may seem like you’re not really “going for it” with traditional design. But there is nothing more modern than tastefully integrating the past to bring comfort and familiarity to your present.

Traditional design style is inspired by 18th- and 19th-century European culture, and adds a sense of refinement and richness to your home, paying homage to the past with elegant, sophisticated design.

Common characteristics of traditional design include:

  • Conservative palettes 
  • Darker wood tones 
  • Ornate molding and trim
  • Curved lines
  • Elegant window treatments

Discover your style with Godfrey Design-Build 

Ready to find your look and get started on the quintessential New England home for your family? At Godfrey Design-Build, we have a wealth of experience building homes that are designed to be cherished for generations.

Contact us to learn how to get started.