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Design Diary: Fat Orange Cat Studio’s Moody Den by Wolf In Sheep Design

The last time we looked at the genius of Boston interior designer Alina Wolhardt, principal of Wolf In Sheep Design, it was to spotlight Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery in Harvard Square.

Last year in the Boston Globe column “Room to Love,” I wrote about this moody den that Wolhardt designed for Li Ward, the Boston pet and wedding photographer behind Fat Orange Cat Studio, and her husband Dan, photographed by Joyelle West.

Ward first met Wolhardt when she photographed Wolhardt’s rescue dog for the book Rescue Pets of Boston. Then, she photographed Wolhardt’s other dog at her house, where she had created a cozy man cave in a windowless room. Ward hired Wolhardt to do the same for her—a dark little sanctuary where she and her husband could hang out for  cocktails and an afternoon read. They dubbed it the opium den.

Wolhardt says, “It took a year to complete this small room but we didn’t want to just force pieces purchased online from various mass-merchandise stores. I really wanted each piece was curated very carefully and that most pieces had history. When trying to create an Old World feel, you can’t force it.”

Moody Den by Alina Wolhardt of Wolf In Sheep Design Boston

The dark wall paint color is Benjamin Moore Gray 2121-10. Wolhardt says, “We designed their bedroom to be very light and airy so we wanted to create a ying yang type of thing where one side of this floor is white and the other side to be the opposite.”

Wolhardt went monochrome on the ceiling too, but in a wallpaper, ROMO Rocks in Metallic Eggplant, which has some sparkle to it. “It’s dark gray with some gold undertone sheen, so when the surface light is on, it creates a nice glow,” Wolhardt says.

That fabulous  light is the Soleil pendant by Suzanne Kasler forCirca lighting in antique brass, chosen to create a night sky-like feeling. The gold plays off the ornate gilt frames around the space.

“The idea for this room was to create an Old World, almost Victorian feeling with mixed styles, like the room had been curated over years,” Wolhardt says. The blue velvet settee is a Hollywood Regency style, sourced from an Etsy shop. Wolhardt directed the shop owner to refinish the frame in high gloss black. The cat’s name is Bingley.

The coffee table is made from the top of Ward’s childhood desk, trimmed with church railings salvaged by local Boston-based woodworker Nick Doriss of Doriss Design Workshoppe. Doriss also helped them hang a massive live-edge wood headboard that was originally a dining tabletop from Mohr McPherson. They repurposed that table base for the coffee table base here.

The heavy, carved dresser, from Ward’s parents, had been in their bedroom, but when Wolhardt spotted it she immediately asked to move it into the cave. She says, “We didn’t need to do anything to it. Even the mirror on this piece had an antiqued finish to it, which was perfect.”

Moody Den by Alina Wolhardt of Wolf In Sheep Design Boston

The artwork is a mix of pieces Ward already owned (antiquing is a hobby), coupled with pieces they found together at Brimfield. Wolhardt says, “We wanted to arrange the pieces like a gallery wall so that she can continue to add artwork as she finds more pieces down the road.”

The floor lamp base is a vintage piece with a new lacey lampshade made by Vintage Shades.

Moody Den by Alina Wolhardt of Wolf In Sheep Design Boston

They found the marble top of the  side table at Brimfield and purchased the legs from another antique store. “Each piece has a nice little history to it,” Wolhardt says.

To make the room feel nice and cozy brought in many layers and textures. The jewel tone velvets on the upholstered pieces make it feel luxurious. The Cisco chair is custom upholstered in emerald green velvet, a nice contrast to the dark gray walls. Wolhardt says, ”

Wolhardt says, “Our mood board had jewel images as well as mussels. Mussels have dark gray shells in nice blue/green shades. I am always inspired by nature, and try to incorporate that into my designs.”

Layering the rugs adds to the overall womb-like effect. The rug on the bottom is a gold, distressed dyed antique rug and the top is a red and blue antique rug.

A distressed blue and coral vintage rug from Seed to Stem in Worcester is layered atop a large Oriental style rug from Anthropologie.

Moody Den by Alina Wolhardt of Wolf In Sheep Design Boston

The black and white photograph is from homeowner Li Ward’s “Ghost Bride” series. “She did a whole series of this woman in a wedding gown, photographed in a cemetery. When I saw the series on her website, I knew it would be perfect for this room.”

Photos by Joyelle West Photography

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Design Diary: Moody South End Condo by Evolve Residential

Almost two years ago Tom Egan of Evolve Residential introduced himself to me with photos of his business partner Josh Linder’s 609-square foot, parlor-level condominium in a 19th century Victorian townhouse in the South End. Since then I’ve gotten to know these guys (who are soooo nice and incredibly talented) and feature more of their work.

We included this project,photographed by Joe Keller, in the Makeover issue of Boston Globe Magazine, The similarly moody 900-square-foot two bedroom condo in the South End belongs to Linder’s friend. He steered him towards buying it, knowing it could be fab. Of course, now it is. Adding period trim, dark paint on the walls, and a mix of contemporary and traditional furnishings, Linder transformed the nondescript space into the perfect refined bachelor pad.

Linder describes it as “elegant but very masculine” saying, “We wanted to make sure when you walked in that it was obvious that a man lived here.”


Linder treated the whole space to Evolve Residential’s signature grey walls. The medium grey walls in the living room are done in Benjamin Moore Pale Smoke. The  ventless ethanol fireplace is entirely new. Linder chose a period mantle and painted it a glossy black—Benjamin Moore Twilight Zone.

The 13-and-a-half-foot ceilings easily accommodated the Flos 2097 chandelier, about which his friend was entirely skeptical until he saw it installed. But friends don’t doubt friends, and so he kept his mouth shut until the end, when he confessed. “He gets it now,” Linder says.

Linder and the homeowner poured through his collection of photography books to come up with a fun combination of images to use on the seat backs of the French bergere chairs. These portraits, which made them smile, are both by Richard Avedon. Linder says, “We like to have one piece in every living room that is conversational.”


Graced with tall windows, and even taller ceilings, the space is airy and the layout needed only minimal tweaking. Plus, there’s a fantastic view of the Hancock from the living room. The quilted black leather sofa on the left is a reproduction Joseph Hoffman Kubus sofa. The crushed gray velvet settee is by O. Henry House, the rug is grey sisal, and the grey lacquer coffee table is a custom piece.


The existing cherry kitchen cabinetry needed replacing, but they kept the black granite countertops. The new black cabinets, which run all the way up to the ceiling were constructed by Kidder Blaisdell Woodworks and painted in Benjamin Moore Twilight Zone. The Moroccan inspired tile on the backsplash is from Tile Showcase and Calcutta marble tops the counter on either side of the range.


The grey walls in the entry are painted in Benjamin Moore Hearthstone. The Empire chest is from Autrefois Antiques in Brookline and the pair of glass lamps are by Barbara Cosgrove. Hanging above is a charcoal drawing by New England artist Martha Lloyd.


The homeowner grew up in a house with a cozy, dark wood room that he really liked, plus he has tons of books, so they transformed the second bedroom into a library with black walls. It’s Benjamin Moore Twilight Zone, the same color as the trim in the living room. Kidder Blaisdell Woodworks also did the library bookshelves.

 They used the smallest sleeper sofa they could find in a queen. It’s a stock piece from local store Circle Furniture, but they had it reupholstered in heathered Ultrasuede.  The homeowner says, “My guests say the memory foam mattress is more comfortable than their bed at home.”

The abstract is another Martha Lloyd painting. Linder says, “We endearingly call it ‘the coffee stain.'”


There are real candles in the Rococo style gold sconces.


The natural grass rug is from West Elm and the sleek glass desk was an online purchase.


Linder describes the bathroom as “horrifying,” so they gutted it. They used a simple white mosaic tile on the floor with a beautiful Afghani war rug from Yayla Tribal Rugs in Cambridge, which is much more intimate and refined than bathmat.

Linder used gold sconces here too, and also added a gold leaf frame to the recessed medicine cabinet in order to bring the elegant French feel into the bathroom.


When they demo’d  the bathroom they discovered an extra 10-inches of space behind the tub which they took advantage of to create a large walk-in shower with a frameless glass enclosure. The large-format, horizontal shower tile from Tile Showcase looks like rustic wood and the bench and shower curb are honed black granite.


The master bedroom is a tailored and masculine cocoon done in lush fabrics, bold lighting, and elegant, unfussy furniture. The grey walls are Benjamin Moore Timber Wolf. The all metal Global Views Turned Pendant Chandelier replaced an ugly ceiling fan.


The custom upholstered headboard has nailhead detailing. The gray bedding is Thomas Brien for Target but the throw pillows are custom. Linder says, “One pillow cost the same as the entire bedding set, but as a mix it works beautifully.” Linder found the black marble topped vintage chests at the Cambridge Antiques Market and repainted them an inky blue.

The homeowner requested total darkness for sleep so Linder mounted three thick, blackout-lined, floor-to-ceiling custom panels from Holly Hunt to the underside of the soffit. He loves it, saying, “It could be a brilliantly sunny day, and I’d never know it.”

Photos by Joe Keller

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Design Diary: Victorian Townhouse by Evolve Residential

Earlier this summer, Boston designer Tom Egan of Evolve Residential sent me photos of his business partner Josh Linder’s 609-square foot, parlor-level condominium in a 19th century Victorian townhouse in the South End. We had hoped to feature it in the Boston Globe Magazine’s upcoming “New England Traditional” home issue, but alas, Josh sold it and moved out. But, lucky me (and you), I can feature it here. It’s amazing, and of course, Josh and Tom did all the design work. Here’s the grand tour:


The bones of the 145 year-old condo were beautiful and retained all of the traditional elements one associates with 19th century Boston homes: high ceilings, bay windows, crown moldings, and paneled doors. Yet it had been turned into a hodgepodge mess over the years. In addition to restoring the historic details, they tweaked the layout to suit 21st century living (an-suite bathroom, Poggenpohl kitchen).  The paint colors, fabrics, and furniture are a dynamic mix of contemporary and traditional. The living room is painted in seven shades of gray!

The sofa was custom made to follow the lines of the bay window, and is upholstered in a plush strié velvet. The walnut barrel chairs are by Flexform from local furniture store, ShowroomThe target painting is by Michael Hoffman, represented by nearby gallery, Jules Place.


The antique petite neoclassical Biedermier walnut chest of drawers is gorgous. They found a fabulous pair of French Baroque style mirrors from the 1940s; one’s in the living room, the other in the dining area. I asked about the funny little men on the chest. They answered, ” These little cuties are an antique pair of porcelain white monkeys from antique vendor in Los Angeles.”


To the left of the fireplace they designed a custom banquette to function as a dining area and work space. Brass Irwin Feld “stiletto” ottomans upholstered plush pleated velvet are an unexpected contrast to the Saarinen pedestal table, and a feminine counterpoint to the black tufted leather banquette. To the right is the master bedroom. I love the tall, panelled door, which is painted in Benjamin Moore’s “Polo Blue.”


A nice closeup of the other French Baroque style mirror. Look in the mirror for a glimpse of the kitchen.


Check out the table (on legs!) in the entry. Tom says, “It’s our absolute favorite piece in the entire residence!”  It is a 1940s polished metal German prosthetic style skeleton leg table with a thick Lucite top. Whoa. The Osborne & Little “Trifad” wallpaper composed of metallic interlocking Chinese keys is one of my favorites. The floors are dyed black and finished with an ultra-matte polyurethane.


In the master bedrooom, the walls are covered in a grey textured fabric which has been paper-backed and applied like wallpaper. They did not reveal where that funky chandelier is from . . . Love the ikat pillows and thick drapery.


Here’s Josh’s closet. Jealous?


Hi shirts and suits match the decor : )


The chocolate-colored kitchen has grasscloth walls. Tom says, “It adds a beautiful texture with a subtle iridescence from the various colored grass strands running throughout the paper.”  As to its practicality, he notes that covering the grasscloth with a thin coat of matte polyurethane creates a wipe-able surface. Good to know.


The cabinetry is Poggenphol. I love how it’s slotted under the eaves. A table lamp makes it so cozy. What’s above the fridge?  A built-in Miele espresso machine!


There’s also a lovely little deck.


Photos by Sean Litchfield


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