A Renovation Story

The Gibbs Family in Reading

Every renovation has a human story behind it, one that goes beyond structural and design changes. While each is special and unique, there are certain project stories that especially resonate with us. Lisa and Rob’s family home renovation in Reading, MA is one such story. It marks an important new chapter that celebrates family while creating an amazing living space for one special young woman.

Exterior view addition renovation

Addition in progress – exterior side view

Lisa and Rob are teachers and the proud parents of three children – two grown sons and a 21-year-old daughter, Samantha, who lives with them. Samantha has sandy blonde hair and an infectious laugh. Her ability to be wholly present with others and sensing their emotions in that moment is a true gift. She was also diagnosed with Down syndrome as an infant, but that hasn’t held her back. She attended public school with her brothers and enjoys diverse activities such as dancing, swimming, and baseball. From her first days, Samantha and her parents have never seen limits, just possibilities realized. As Lisa will tell you, Samantha has many wonderful attributes, but one thing she is not defined by is her diagnosis.

We have had the privilege of knowing the Gibbs family and connecting through our shared community outreach efforts in the Reading area, including our respective nonprofits. (Lisa and Rob founded Samantha’s Harvest when their daughter was just over a year old to promote awareness and support for organizations that support those with Down syndrome.)

When they parted with a beloved family home on Cape Cod, the question was how to honor those years of memories but also bring a retreat back home to Reading. The answer: an accessory apartment for Sam to reap the benefits of independence, a more spacious primary suite for Lisa and Rob, and to curate the fixtures and finishes to pay homage to their love of the Cape house. After considering their options, they chose to renovate with Lee Kimball’s design/build team. “We knew we wanted to work with Bruce and Gregg. They had given Samantha an internship at their office where she worked after school once a week to keep up her vocational skills. Not only are they friends, but they know Samantha, and we were already familiar with the great work they do.”

Interior second floor addition

Interior view of second floor – new addition in progress

Not sure what changes they should make to accomplish their objective, Lisa and Rob met with the Lee Kimball team to formulate a plan. “We have the dream team. Nancy Twomey is our architect and Madison Cota is our designer. They came up with an amazing plan. We just didn’t have the vision they have, and it’s been so exciting watch it come together.”

Their new addition is actually two stories. On the ground floor is Samantha’s apartment, a spacious design that includes a shared family space where they can all gather. “In the original floorplan, her bedroom is the size of a postage stamp. The new addition is like night and day.”

Lisa and Rob have also planned for their future needs with the new addition. “We’re building the second floor with a primary bedroom and bath over her unit for ourselves. When the time comes, we wanted to make it easier for one of our boys and their family to move into the main house.”

They are also creating a home resort feel with a new pool and spa that Samantha’s apartment will open out on. The plan also includes a door from the main home’s dining room to the pool area. “Initially, I didn’t want it, but now that it’s there, I love it. Lee Kimball’s team know what we want before we even want it ourselves.”

Today, construction is well underway with completion just weeks ahead. Lisa has nothing but praise for her family’s experience with Lee Kimball. “The way they do all of this is brilliant. They make sure they have everything in place before starting. CoConstruct (a construction focused project management software) is updated in real time, and we have access to it, so we know exactly what is happening. The whole process has been very methodical and focused. They’ve thought of everything. Gregg Johnson and the team are unbelievably creative, and everything is managed seamlessly. Someone is here every day working, and they are all great to have around – the nicest people.”

We’re as excited as the Gibbs family to see the completion of Samantha’s new apartment, and Samantha can’t wait to be in a space that is completely and uniquely hers.

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