This Boston Home has Updated Traditional Style
December 13, 2023
What began as a request to repair a door and source counter stools turns into a complete renovation in Beacon Hill.
Text by Erika Ayn Finch Photography by Michael J. Lee
It all started out innocently enough. The wife of a couple who had purchased a recently developed early-1800s condo in Boston’s Beacon Hill was staying at the Inn at Hastings Park in Lexington, Massachusetts. Counter stools around the bar caught her eye, so she called the hotel’s interior designer, Robin Gannon. “We got to talking,” says Gannon, “and before we knew it, we were designing the whole space.”
It was a similar experience with builder Brookes + Hill. “I’d worked with these clients before,” says project manager and special projects director Bryan Guimar, “and they reached out to me about repairing a door. Five days later, the husband calls back and says, ‘We just hired an interior designer—now we’re really in trouble!’ ”
The wife’s style, which Gannon calls “updated traditional,” drove most of the design decisions. The condo’s interior architecture skewed modern with clean lines and a relative lack of millwork (apart from the living room’s original nineteenth-century crown molding); Gannon warmed it up with traditional elements like tray ceilings, paneling, molding, and a plethora of thoughtful antiques to be consistent with the building’s origins. The wife’s preference for all shades of blue informed the color palette, which Gannon complemented with pops and downright bursts of coral.
With two bedrooms and two and a half baths, the condo is modest in size, but the couple wanted to make sure it offered plenty of room for their four adult children to congregate for sporting events and binge-watching. Gannon accomplished this by tucking seats—and corresponding drink drops—into strategic places, like leather stools snug under a Lucite console behind the family room sofa, a pair of chairs on the staircase landing, and an antique gilt bench in the dining room.
That room, with its floral Gracie wallcovering and seventeenth-century Swedish cabinet, just might be the showstopping space in the house. It certainly contains Guimar’s favorite element: the “invisible” jib door, papered in the same Gracie pattern, that connects the dining room with the elevator foyer. “That door is just incredible,” says Guimar.
It’s not the only mystery moment in the condo, either. A wall of periwinkle drapes in the primary bedroom conceals built-in shelves for storage—very useful considering the antique bed’s lack of a skirt. “Without a skirt, it makes the room feel bigger and lets you see the bed’s turned posts all the way down to the floor,” says Gannon. And what appears to be a mirror above the dresser in the room is a flat-screen TV thanks to dielectric glass.
What started out as a broken door and the need for stools around a kitchen island snowballed into a renovated home where every moment feels intentional. “I love to give clients the flexibility in how they use each room, each space,” says Gannon.“We help them share the story about how they live, creating the spaces that reflect them completely, and then tiptoe out.”