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"We jumped in headfirst," Tina says. "We might not have had the experience, but we had determination." Conforming to local zoning laws, the couple stuck with the original footprint of the house and decided not to build a second floor. "We didn't want to overpower the surroundings," Tina says.

Now, four years later, the family lives here—happily, for the most part. And the dust has pretty much settled. What remains is a 4,100-square-foot rectilinear structure that has little in common with its neighbors—two-story Colonials, mostly. Early on, Tina and James realized they were not a cozy-up-to-the-hearth family. So the fireplace was replaced by a freestanding waterfall. "That's something we can enjoy every day, all year round," Tina says.

The open living room affords little privacy, so the parents retreat to the bedroom when their children's friends visit. A walnut bed by Cappellini floats in the master bedroom.
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