Built in 1875, the house had the typical compartmentalized layout favored at the time—large, formal reception rooms to the front and subsidiary rooms to the rear, including a small, dark kitchen. It may have had curb appeal, but inside it was gloomy, rundown, and in desperate need of attention. Architect Gregory Phillips, a family friend, was retained by the Brenners to make their 19th-century house work with their 21st-century lifestyle. His clients’ program was simple: "I only asked for a place to escape from the kids!" claims Judith.