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Downtown Boston condo transformed into bright, bold oasis

Design New England Boston Downtown
If color palettes were musical tempos, the one for this apartment would be allegro. The pops of green, blue, and orange against a backdrop of white bring alacrity to the living/dining area. The mirror above the sofa is a focal point without distracting from the wallpaper. The small-weave fabric on the dining chairs picks up on the green in the chairs facing the couch.
If color palettes were musical tempos, the one for this apartment would be allegro. The pops of green, blue, and orange against a backdrop of white bring alacrity to the living/dining area. The mirror above the sofa is a focal point without distracting from the wallpaper. The small-weave fabric on the dining chairs picks up on the green in the chairs facing the couch. Michael J. Lee

“My favorite color is red,” says the owner of an elegantly renovated condominium in downtown Boston. “But the green just made me happy. It spoke to me.”

Somewhere between chartreuse and apple green, the shade, which graces two upholstered chairs in her living room, was initially spotted on a lively polka-dot textile (“one of the first fabrics I chose,” the owner says) that she and designer Frank Hodge of F.D. Hodge Interiors in Boston used on pillows for the room’s sofa.

The owner loves to have friends over to play bridge and canasta, so interior designer Frank Hodge gave her a custom card table. —Michael J. Lee

Hodge worked closely with his client to create what he calls a “very edited and clean space” with a modern heart, with a palette that evolved from the polka-dot fabric. The project was something of a departure for Hodge, who says he is “generally very traditional in my design aesthetic.” But his client had a clear vision for remaking the space, where she has lived with her partner for several years, from dark golds and browns to bright, light, and bold. They saw eye to eye, says Hodge, and “everything is very intentionally chosen and grouped” to create a fresh, contemporary look.

A fine artist as well as a designer, Hodge painted what he calls the site-specific “ethereal landscape” for the wall above the Kayak credenza from Cattelan Italia. —Michael J. Lee

Where color doesn’t unify the apartment, a deliberate nod to the modern does. “It was the intention to consistently weave this modern aesthetic through the whole project,” says Eric Adams, a principal at Adams + Beasley Associates of Carlisle, Massachusetts, the custom building firm that renovated the kitchen and two bathrooms and worked with Hodge to build out and finesse architectural and design details. “Everything’s very geometric and goes with a more modern language,” Adams says. “You can walk through the unit and feel like there’s a cohesive aesthetic through-line, even though each space has its own little story.”

While the design aesthetic had to change, the client wanted to preserve the layout of the apartment. “The space, the flow,” she says, worked beautifully. A combined living/dining space opens to a large patio that looks over an iconic church spire and scenes of Boston straight out of Currier and Ives. The master bedroom, with its own private patio, takes advantage of the same views and allows its occupants to walk directly into the kitchen without having to cross paths with anyone who might be staying in the study-cum-guest room.

The dining area opens to the pantry/wet bar. —Michael J. Lee

Together, client and design team focused on reinterpreting what was already there. The aim was for a cohesive plan, which is why the green in the pillows wends its way into the fabric on the dining chairs, the round rug in the entryway, and the custom-made headboard in the master.

The brown wall of the entry hall is Venetian plaster polished to a high gloss with wax, making it resemble an inlay. The white floating table hides a drawer for keys, notepad, pens, etc. Square-framed ceiling lights augment the sharp-lined design scheme. —Michael J. Lee

Working with Area Environments Custom Wallcovering, a Minneapolis, Minnesota, company that employs fine artists to create wallpaper patterns that can then be customized, Hodge installed a mural-like paper with a chimerical pattern on the far wall of the great room. A focal point of the apartment, it has swirls of metallic bronze against a white background and draws the eye across the expanse of space. The rich color picks up on the chocolate brown in the flooring, rugs, and accent pieces, while the background is the “decorator white” used throughout the space.

The walnut veneer and white of the kitchen is also found in the study and bathrooms. The kitchen electrical outlets and switches are all tucked out of sight. —Michael J. Lee

Adams + Beasley employed unifying colors and materials such as walnut veneer and stainless steel in the kitchen and bathrooms. “A lot of times we panel and integrate all the kitchen appliances,” Adams says, “but in this case, they were a cool materialistic addition to the composition of the whole package, which contributed to the modern vibe.” Radiant floor heat in the kitchen and master bathroom adds to the comfort level. “If anyone is wondering whether they should do radiant heat and they live in New England,” says the client, “it’s a must. And it’s not that expensive in the scheme of things.”

The furniture colors in the den reflect those in the Leslie Graff painting of books above the couch. —Michael J. Lee

The client is thrilled with the outcome. “Eric and the whole staff [at Adams + Beasley], from the foreman to the people in the office, made the project a joy,” she says. “He has wonderful communication skills.” As for Hodge, “I want to give him as much credit as we can,” says his client, who went on to hire him for the interior design of the couple’s vacation house on Cape Cod. She notes that his contributions go beyond his interior design skills, including a fine art painting he did for the space above a credenza near the dining table.

A long window seat in the capacious master bedroom allows the couple to take advantage of the view over one of the prettiest spots in downtown Boston, replete with iconic architecture and a park. At night, Karkula pendant lights hung over the night stands flanking the bed throw a mesmerizing swirl pattern on the wall behind them. —Michael J. Lee

With the just-so feel of the apartment, the couple enjoy really living and entertaining there. Friends are often invited for evenings of bridge and canasta. Overnight guests come and go. The couple’s combined bevy of grandchildren and great-nieces and -nephews enjoys visiting, too. The brightly unified space has turned out to be just right for everyone.

The green-and-white gingham pattern on the sitting area chair is by Bassett Hall for Robert Allen. —Michael J. Lee
Pillowed ceramic tiles from Porcelanosa in the master bath make a bold, crisp statement. His vanity (pictured) is close to the shower. Her vanity is in a separate part of the room. “It was really important to them to each have their own vanities and their own space,” says custom builder Eric Adams. “They have different routines and are in and out of the house at different times of the day.” —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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