Contemporary and Family-Friendly Boston Condo

January 5, 2017

A Boston condominium is all elegance and style, but it’s also designed to hold all the accoutrements a young family needs.

Text by Megan Fulweiler    Photography by Michael J. Lee    Produced by Kyle Hoepner


A grand building built of glass and granite and featuring a mix of luxe hotel suites and condos (not to mention a slew of upscale amenities and several acclaimed eateries) evokes empire-building executives and world travelers. A paparazzi-followed celeb swanning in and out wouldn’t be surprising. What doesn’t spring to mind? Baby paraphernalia and pets. As it turns out, though, the Residences at the InterContinental on Boston’s waterfront are also ideal for a young family yearning for the perks of urban living along with traditional comforts.

The modern structure’s unique design nods to the tall ships that once graced Boston’s harbor. Its height represents the masts, while the curved facades are the wind-filled sails. Lured by the unending views and abundant natural light, the owners chose a corner unit with a sharply angled living/dining space and recruited interior designer Dee Elms to help them build a nest that better reflected their lifestyle and refined aesthetic. The existing place, explains Elms, sported simple finishes and a layout that didn’t quite meet the needs of the couple and their young daughter. “The foyer was huge, while the kitchen was tiny. I’m used to high-end condos, but I also have three young kids, so I get it,” she says with a chuckle. “I put on my family hat and thought through every detail.”

Contractor Chris Rapczynski, of Sleeping Dog Properties, was also captivated by the idea of forging a family base in one of Boston’s most glamorous buildings. “We look for unique elements in each project to engage our staff,” he says. “Making this citycentric residence into a real home was challenging.”

In less skillful hands the task may have seemed impossible or, at least, improbable. But, as is clear today from one end of the stylish unit to the other, Elms and Rapczynski have successfully paired luxury and efficiency. Case in point: Elms began by commandeering a slice of the oversized foyer and creating a mudroom—an invaluable addition not normally associated with posh apartments. The downsized entry gained a coffered wood ceiling and Venetian-plastered walls. And the baby’s stroller—along with coats and boots—acquired a walnut-finished, out-of-sight parking space.

As for yesterday’s tight kitchen, Boston-based kitchen designer Jodi Geran, who was at the time aligned with Downsview Kitchens and is now with Christopher Peacock, came on board to provide relief. Slicing a doorway to the previously closed hallway, Geran and Elms enhanced the layout and increased the unit’s flow. The old galley-like room, Geran says, “went side to side. The new doorway allowed us to design the room front to back for an open concept.”

Furthering the seamless marriage of kitchen, dining, and living areas, the high-end appliances (including four ovens, fridge, freezer, and microwave) tuck unobtrusively into their assigned spots. In fact, the overall elegance doesn’t miss a beat, even with the addition of what Geran labels the “chinchilla villa.” The chinchillas’ custom pad, complete with its own special ventilation and lighting system, slips discreetly alongside the bar cabinet as nice as you please. The adorable pets remain close but comfortably sequestered.

Of course, in keeping with the swank address, the kitchen’s roster of surfaces reads like a five-star menu: marble counters, a combo of gleaming high- gloss lacquer and walnut veneer cabinetry, and a Venetian-plastered ceiling. For Elms, textures are a critical component that bring not just visual interest but also a depth of richness.

Her clients liked it so much, Elms also swept the prime finish onto the dining area’s ceiling. Punctuated with a streamlined boxed pendant by Bone Simple Design, the pale ceiling appears to float upwards. The luminous surface throws back the colors of a large painting by Connecticut artist Ted Gahl and, at night, the flicker of candle flames. Indeed, guests stationed on the sumptuous banquette flanking the Bright Groups’s custom K3 table seem almost reluctant to move.

In contrast, a handsome wood ceiling defines the living room. Its warming presence is a perfect counterpart to the expansive windows. From the start, it was decided the TV would usurp the corner, but Elms cleverly softened the room’s sharp angle with a curved Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams sofa that breaks easily into sections, a circular ottoman from the Bright Group, and a round hand-knotted Stark rug. Swivel chairs go every which way, so the family can revel in the vistas or watch the chinchillas.

“When I’m working with a client, I’m constantly thinking about what’s livable and viable,” says Elms, referring to the apartment’s three bedrooms. Every space (including the laundry, with its twin washers and dryers) works as beautifully as it looks from the office cum guest room to the sophisticated master quarters. The office incorporates a Mitchell Gold sleeper, a versatile Holy Hunt ottoman, and a work-friendly desk racing along the entire window.

In the parents’ sanctuary, shades hidden behind the crown molding blot out the world on demand “It’s restful right down to the art,” Elms says, directing attention to William Ciccariello’s contemplative painting of bare trees and snow. Opposite the Holly Hunt bed, a sleek built-in provides endless storage and forges a niche for an additional television.

The couple opted for his and hers baths, but with similar three-dimensional wall tile in each, there’s a soothing continuity. Both rooms also flaunt a neutral color theme, while his contains a glass-walled shower and hers holds a shower and tub.

Nearby, the daughter’s haven is as sweet as can be with a moon-patterned wallcovering by Bartsch Paris and a cozy custom bed that will grow along with her. Elms injected plenty of storage here, too, and there’s also a spot for a wee tea table and chairs. Still, all the designer’s stellar planning and stunning accoutrements probably don’t mean much to a little girl. For her, this is just home—her favorite place—and that’s the way it should be. •

Interior Architecture and Design: Dee Elms, Elms Interior Design
Builder: Chris Rapczynski, Sleeping Dog Properties


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