Custom Home With Heart

Custom Home With a Heart

By Jennifer H. McInerney

Photography by Jack Foley


Location, location, location” has long been the familiar refrain in the real estate business. Any structure can be redesigned, expanded, or even torn down and rebuilt, but not the land on which it stands. 

When the Sartor family purchased their four-bedroom home in the heart of Hingham in 2015, they were immediately enamored with the private 4-acre wooded lot. The house, however, “needed some love,” recalls homeowner Jessie Sartor, but the couple could clearly see its untapped potential.

The couple enlisted Hingham-based Oak Development & Design who reconfigured the existing home’s layout, adding more than 3,000 square feet of living space and incorporating several custom touches that have enhanced their family’s lifestyle for the long term.

“The outcome is exactly what we dreamed of,” Sartor says. “The house is open, yet cozy. It feels intimately connected to the surrounding landscape, and the layout works much more efficiently for our busy family of five.”

“When envisioning their forever home, the couple carefully considered how to make the most of their living spaces. For example, the music room contributes to the open flow of the floor plan, but it has pocket doors so it can be closed off to create privacy,” says lead designer Lizzy Antonik, who co-owns Oak Development & Design together with her husband, PJ.

As one of the central gathering areas of the home, the spacious kitchen has been extended to nearly triple its original size, with beamed cathedral ceilings and two large islands ideal for prepping and serving food. One full wall of glass overlooks the backyard and a bifold door opens all the way across for seamless indoor-outdoor living.


On the opposite side of the kitchen, a RootCellar walk-in refrigerated pantry, made by a company in Wenham, Massachusetts, houses L-shaped shelves displaying perishable food items as well as a freezer with double glass doors. Given the Sartors’ affinity for entertaining, this innovative all-in-one appliance presented a “truly practical solution to our food storage problems,” says Sartor. The ample storage space fits large party platters and even kegs, and the automatic door offers convenient, hands-free access.

“It eliminates the need for an additional freezer in the basement or garage,” she adds. “All the food is in one place, and we can see everything and can fit everything easily. There’s much less food waste this way and nothing is hiding in the back of a cramped fridge drawer!”

“This is the first one of these we’ve ever done,” Antonik notes, standing inside and admiring the RootCellar. “It’s amazing.”

Just outside the kitchen, a separate butler’s pantry with soapstone countertops, walnut drawers and cabinets, and an additional sink provides a tucked-away area for organizing, storage and clean-up. The pantry also features a beverage refrigerator, a dishwasher and a built-in coffee maker.

Upstairs, the customizations continue with a home gym, a kids’ playroom, and a rooftop deck with a hot tub. 

For this busy mom of three boys, elevating the laundry room from conventionally functional to highly efficient topped her list of priorities. “I wanted a space that actually made my life easier, so we expanded the laundry room into two connected areas. One serves as a dressing room/closet area with individual cubbies and hanging space for all five members of the family,” Sartor explains. “I’m able to do the laundry in one side of the room and then simply put everyone’s clothes in their respective cubbies.”

Like the open kitchen downstairs, the main bedroom suite highlights the home’s natural surroundings with multiple windows framing a flatscreen TV on the wall overlooking the backyard.

The main bedroom suite also reveals a unique surprise—where form meets function meets fun.  What appears to be a full-sized built-in bookcase is actually a Murphy Door: a bookcase disguised as a secret passageway to a hidden spiral staircase that leads upstairs to Jessie’s husband Michael’s home office on the third floor. 

“The bookshelf/Murphy Door was something my husband dreamed up,” she says. “We didn’t love the idea of having an exposed spiral staircase in the middle of the main bedroom so we decided to enclose it. The idea of using a hidden door to access it was very exciting to my husband and three boys.”

“Our team is always striving to think outside the box and this project is a great example of that,” says PJ Antonik, owner of Oak Development & Design.

Now able to enjoy their home’s custom features, “we wouldn’t change a thing,” says Sartor. “We look forward to entertaining and enjoying the house with our family and friends.”


PJ and Lizzy Antonik are the husband-and-wife team behind Oak Development & Design, based in Hingham. Specializing in custom-built homes on the South Shore and Cape Cod, the company offers a comprehensive approach to home renovation projects and new construction. In addition, Oak Development & Design produces Heart of Oak TV, an unscripted home-improvement reality series that follows the Oak Development & Design team’s progress at its various project sites. Seasons 1-4 are now available for streaming on both of the company’s Websites: and