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Good Life New England - Old World Atelier

In Western Massachusetts, the area of the country that gifted us the sport of basketball and famed author Emily Dickinson, sits the quiet town of New Salem, Massachusetts, population <1,000. Just off Rte 202 is a charming country road which leads to the historic site that once accommodated the New Salem Academy, a small private high school that, at one time, welcomed students from seven neighboring towns. While the original settlement dates back to 1735, the New Salem Academy graduated its first class in 1913 and saw its final class in 1968.

Today, many of the original academy buildings are private residences. But in the 90’s a former student and her husband acquired and renovated the original dormitory that was once home to 24 New Salem Academy students. It became their family vacation home. That dormitory is now owned by the family of that former student. This is where our story begins.

The property obviously had sentimental value to the family, but their lives and careers did not lend themselves to visiting this enchanting small town very often. One of the owners, esteemed Interior Designer Laura Barletta, had the brilliant idea to convert the property into an art gallery and academy, making it a place of beauty and pride for the town of New Salem. The New Salem Museum and Academy of Art was born.

Good Life New England, Fine Cabinetry and Residential Design, was introduced to this project through Barletta, owner of Beautiful Interiors and Architect Ben LaMora, owner of Lineal Inc. Design + Build. These three design firms had worked on projects together before, but this one was clearly different.

For Barletta, this project was very personal. Her mother-in-law was the former student who had purchased the property in the 90’s. For many years this historic home was the gathering place for family holidays and special occasions. Fast forward to the present and the family’s legacy here continues as the current generation has newly renovated the property to serve the community as the New Salem Museum and Academy of Art, dedicated exclusively to realism.

This renovation was no small undertaking. For LaMora, it involved the challenge of converting the existing residential property into a hybrid, multi-use facility. A portion of the building was to be dedicated to gallery space and artist studio. The other portion of the building was to be used as a guest quarter for the resident artist/caretakers. The goal was to bring this antique wood building up to code from both a residential and commercial perspective, while maintaining the character and integrity of the original structure.

A charming residence was designed for the resident artist and his wife. This included a large kitchen addition, designed to be used for their own personal use as well as museum functions. The kitchen designed for this residence is so stunning, it rivals the works of art displayed in the gallery. Good Life New England worked closely with Barletta to bring her dream kitchen to life.

Barletta’s vision was for the kitchen to mimic an “old world” style, with all of the “new world” conveniences. A custom stain was chosen for the custom walnut cabinetry, providing an opulent feel to the space. The exquisite marble backsplash and solid custom marble corbels offer the perfect counterbalance to the dark cabinetry. Anchored with substantial stainless steel appliances, the kitchen features a gorgeous farm sink, custom hood, and spectacular millwork.

Open shelves grace the perimeter providing the perfect place for displaying small works of art and easy access to everyday items. Open shelves can also be found in the large center island offering convenient access to serving pieces.

Just around the corner is the pantry featuring the same custom walnut cabinetry and more open storage shelves. This space was perfectly designed to house small appliances and additional glassware and serving pieces for larger gatherings.

Filled with natural light and overlooking the expansive stone patio and grounds, this kitchen is breathtaking and worthy of its place in this magnificent historic home.

The story of this property has a beautiful past and very bright future.


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