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Look inside this tiny Beacon Hill studio that’s filled with color

Design New England Beacon Hill Boston
Kofol’s eggplant sofa is livened up with Rosenfeld’s signature use of colorful textiles.
Kofol’s eggplant sofa is livened up with Rosenfeld’s signature use of colorful textiles. Michael J. Lee

There is small, and then there is “tiny,” says interior designer Katie Rosenfeld. “Tiny” is how Rosenfeld describes Caroline Kofol’s roughly 400-square-foot studio apartment in Boston’s Beacon Hill. “The living room, bedroom, kitchen, foyer — it’s all one space,” says Rosenfeld. “From the bed, you see the kitchen sink and the front door.” Creating a lively, cohesive aesthetic is tricky in one all-encompassing space, she points out, but completely doable.

Kofol, who is in her mid-20s, was attracted to the traditional architecture of the turn-of-the-19th-century brownstone, but felt her unit needed to be infused with youthful sophistication to truly feel like home. “I wanted to let the original details shine while creating a modern vibe with the decor,” says Kofol. “I love color and pattern.”

Rosenfeld, known for her daring use of color and bold pairing of patterns, was just the one to help transform the space.

The neutral Lee Industries upholstered bed is layered with pillows in bold patterns and hues, including a pink ikat bolster, two shams by Brunschwig & Fils, and others covered in a whimsical Manuel Canovas print. —Michael J. Lee

“The unit was typical old Beacon Hill. It was creaky and crusty and kind of dismal,” says Rosenfeld, whose firm, Katie Rosenfeld Interior Design, is in Wellesley, Massachusetts. “But it has wonderful high ceilings, long bowed windows, and a beautiful fireplace. ”

Working with Kofol’s budget, Rosenfeld encouraged her client to incorporate an eggplant-hued Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams sofa that she’d had in her prior apartment into the plan. “I didn’t want to keep it,” says Kofol, who initially sought to infuse her new haven with a light-blue-and-green palette. “But Katie convinced me that it would be a good base to build our textile choices around,” says Kofol. Now, as the anchor for a color scheme of purple, pink, brown, and orange, she says the sofa has become one of her favorite pieces.

A bargain shopper for many decor elements, Rosenfeld believes in splurging on textiles that can add distinctive character and charm. “We layered and layered with textiles that offer splashes of funny, absurd, striking, and whimsical,” says Rosenfeld.

A gallery wall was created with framed consignment shop prints, original etchings, and a piece by artist Sally King Benedict. —Michael J. Lee

Two low-profile armchairs upholstered in brown-and-white trellis-patterned fabric by Schumacher were another splurge, while many accents pieces were found at secondhand shops. Rosenfeld and Kofol combed consignment stores for the array of small prints that hangs on an intriguing gallery wall. At the center is a painting by artist Sally King Benedict, a colorful abstract that suits the vibrant aesthetic.

Most frames are gold-toned to echo the look of the brass fixtures used throughout. “It’s much easier to create a gallery wall in a small area,” says Rosenfeld. “On a bigger wall, there is so much more area to fill, and figuring out the right spacing can be difficult.”

A bookshelf artfully displays Caroline Kofol’s cherished collections of design books. —Michael J. Lee

Yet there are obvious challenges to living in such a diminutive space. Paramount is the lack of storage. “The closet is itty-bitty. We had to find attractive solutions for wardrobe overage,” says Rosenfeld, pointing to the tiered dresser from Bungalow 5 that she had lacquered a striking shade of orange. The bureau works, she says, because the bold color and unusual shape make it a focal point and not just a piece of bedroom furniture. “You don’t necessarily want the living room to feel like the bedroom,” says Rosenfeld.

Kofol’s linens are stocked in a tall teak console from Crate & Barrel that has ample storage behind its rattan mesh doors. “It’s so utilitarian, but it has a really nice textural, Midcentury look,” says Rosenfeld. The top of the piece provides a display area for Kofol’s collection of ceramic Staffordshire dogs.

Neutral walls make an appropriate backdrop for the colorful furnishings and accessories. However, the walls of the kitchen area called for something a little more lively. “It was a depressing little nook,” recalls Rosenfeld. Since a complete overhaul of the kitchen wasn’t in the cards, designer and homeowner decided to revive the space with a linen wallcovering by Clarence House depicting an assortment of vases that feels both elegant and whimsical, much like the entirety of the apartment itself. Says Kofol, “It’s everything I imagined and more.”

Clarence House wallcovering and new brass cabinet hardware turn the once drab kitchen area into a whimsical but sophisticated corner. —Michael J. Lee
Design New England, the magazine of splendid homes and gardens, celebrates the region’s best interior design, architecture, and landscape design.
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