Chas Fitzgerald and his business partner Jack Hammack, an architecturally trained builder and aficionado of historic homes and neighborhoods, found a dilapidated 1925, 1,400-square-foot cottage in Kessler Highlands.

After: The buyer closed on the home this spring, confirming Fitzgerald’s instinct. When the buyer started looking, the buyer wanted a smaller home and a neighborhood where young couples with children dwell in 80- to 100-year-old homes and greet new neighbors upon moving in. The interior, almost entirely rethought for a modern lifestyle, begins at the front door, which offers a straight shot to the backdoor. This gives the resident clear views of visitors approaching from the rear, and creates an opportunity for cross-ventilation, a literal breezeway that will passively cool the house in summer. One side of this central pathway is the public side: an open, expanded kitchen, a room that can be used as either a dining room or a TV room, and the front, formal sitting room. On the other side of the pathway is the private side: two comfortably sized bedrooms, and two bathrooms. The entire remodel is detailed to evoke a mixture of the past and present. For instance, the master bathroom includes a contemporary shower with no door, but it is finished in tried-and-true white tile with blue accents. In the kitchen, a stainless steel range and oven backs up to the original red-brick flue, which vents the new oven.