Back Bay Shutter Company Makes History at The Lyman Estate.


The Lyman Estate, Waltham, MA

It can be a challenge for a client to choose the type of window treatments they want for their home, but when it’s a historic home and the owner is Historic New England, the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the nation, it’s a matter of history.

Founded in 1910 to preserve and present the cultural and architectural heritage of New England, Historic New England hired us to create window treatments for their ballroom and several other spaces in the palatial and grand Lyman Estate in Waltham, MA. Thrilled to be part of such an exciting project, we did a little research on the Estate.

The Lyman Estate, also known as “The Vale,” is a country estate built using the principles of eighteenth-century English naturalistic design. Because of it’s expansive land and proximity to Boston, Waltham was a popular location for country estates during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Designed as a Federal-style house by famed architect Samuel McIntire for shipping merchant Theodore Lyman in 1793, The Lyman Estate was the warm-weather retreat for four generations of the Lyman family. The home was enlarged in 1882 in the Victoria style, and remodeled in 1917 in the Colonial Revival style. Residing on 37 acres, it boasts  beautifully preserved gardens and historic greenhouses.  Today it’s used for weddings, meetings and private parties. It’s also a tourist site, where visitors can explore the elegant home, and hear about the story of the Lyman family.

But back to our task at hand–window treatments. An old home can be challenging to work on, because often the windows are damaged due to age, but not in the case of the Lyman Estate. Having been recently renovated, as part of the Estate’s weatherization and energy efficiency project, we were lucky to be working with windows in excellent condition. Since historic accuracy is everything with a job like this, we did our homework.  While Nancy Barnard of H-K Designs created the beautiful swags, jobots, valances, and sheer curtains for several of the rooms, we were given the task of creating the shades. Nancy is a respected colleague whose company H-K Designs specializes in period appropriate interiors. Talk about an interesting job! Nancy works all over the country in private homes, and museums creating and re-creating historically accurate interiors, from wallpaper and paint colors to carpet, draperies and bed hangings. And this lady knows her history. She can be reached at 508-358-7843, or you can email her at She is a wizard.

Anyway, our own research lead us to choose a combination of Spring Roller Shades and Clutch Shades for the project. We chose a historic tiffany green fabric for the shade’s exterior and interior. In some rooms, we chose to use white fabric for the interior and the historic tiffany green fabric for the exterior. This was especially apropos in both the bride and groom’s rooms, as well as their baths. Grommets and Victorian tassels completed the look.

In the butler’s pantry, we used clutch roller shades, because being near the sink, we knew that having wet hands on the shades could damage them. We also used valance to hide the shade’s hardware.

The shades were an important choice for the Estate. As Julie Stolz, of Historic New England told us,  “They protect the interior fabrics and textiles and finsihses from fading. Having the shades pulled down when there isn’t a funciton going on, reduces solar gain in the rooms during the summer months, making it less costly to cool the house. Having the shades down in the winter also helps with heat loss.”

Everybody at Back Bay Shutter Company is very proud to have worked on this property. And we’re grateful that places like Historic New England exist, to keep examples of old New England, like the Lyman Estate, alive and well.