Tag Archives: Boston condos

Design Diary: A Condo Built for Wine

For last year’s Boston Globe Magazine Kitchens & Baths issue, I profiled one of the more interesting projects I’ve researched—a condo for which the starting point was the homeowners’ wine collection. Designed by Thomas White of  ACTWO Architects and built by Merz Construction, this 2,100-square-foot three bedroom in a high-rise overlooking Boston Common obviously did not come with a wine cellar. Here’s a detailed look, photographed by Greg Premru.

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The entry area is defined by the same tile used in the kitchen, a ceramic tile by Tau that resembles Corten steel. To the right, interior designer Manuel de Santaren, whom the couple had worked with on prior projects, suggested cutting a five-inch deep niche for their Fornasetti screen, which was purchased by the husband’s mother in the 1950s. To the left is the hallway with the wine. Straight ahead is the dining area, partially concealed by a fixed metal screen.

The “Athos” dining table by B&B Italia are from Montage in Boston. The “Lirica” chairs by Domitalia are from Italian Interiors in Watertown. The Light blue wool rug with gold silk pattern is from Landry & Arcari in Boston. The light fixture is the Artemide Triple Linear Logico Classical.

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Wanting a textured, transparent material other than glass, White devised a curtain of stainless steel rings that’s normally used in commercial applications, like cladding on airport facades. He brought in Jonathan Merz of Merz Construction early in the process, and they collaborated on the installation, using stainless parts they had had specially fabricated. 

The photograph at the end of the hallway, by Victor Schragar, pictures books in varying stages of focus, wrapped in paper to resemble color fields. The couple purchased it from the Bernard Toale Gallery in the South End. They refinished the existing oak floor in medium brown. 

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The homeowner wanted to be sure that displaying the didn’t come off as ostentatious, or look like a bar at a trendy restaurant. White offered this wine storage solution: an illuminated wall of wine with floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors that could accommodate almost 30 cases of wine. It became the starting point for the overall design of the home, and its focal point.

After experimenting with costly custom ideas for what would hold the wine bottles, they chose an off-the-shelf metal rack that the homeowner found online.

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White says, “We realized that illuminating the bottles could be artistic, and decided to make a whole wall glow.”  When the doors are rolled shut, it’s not obvious what’s behind there. The homeowner says that it takes a while before people realize it’s wine. As for the mesh screen, he says, ‘“At night, light skims down the screen, transforming it into a sparkly wall.”

Lighting is at the top, behind a white pre-finished aluminum panel. There’s also a small exhaust fan that ventilates the heat that builds up from the lights. They took great pains to hide the ventilation, ducts, lighting, etc. and to be sure there were no unsightly shadows. Handles are stainless steel inset in the glass.

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Standing in the kitchen, looking towards the entry. Waterfall countertop is a buttermilk shade of Caesarstone.

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Since it’s visible from the entire home, they wanted to create a sleek kitchen that didn’t necessarily look like a kitchen. They chose white laminate glass for the backsplash, adding LED lighting behind it, so at night it would glow like the wine cabinet. Merz handled the tricky technical end of all that. The homeowners got the idea for floating shelves above the counter from the SieMatic showroom, where they purchased the cabinetry.

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View of the wine cabinet, and the pantry beyond. The pantry houses an extra oven, microwave, and extra storage for dishware.

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ACTWO designed built-ins for the living room, finished in rosewood and white gloss laminate. The homeowners collect colorful glass pieces displayed on the floating shelves.

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The condo has a great city view, overlooking the Boston Common.

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Since the homeowners are empty nesters, the two other bedrooms are his and hers offices, which also function as guest rooms.

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More great built ins; note the vertically-oriented cubbies for the books.

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The homeowners on the cover of the 2013 Globe Magazine Kitchens & Baths issue.
Read more about them and the project in my article “Beauty and the Bottle.

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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:

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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

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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.

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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.

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Here’s Josh’s closet. Jealous?

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Hi shirts and suits match the decor : )

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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.

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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!

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There’s also a lovely little deck.

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Photos by Sean Litchfield

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