A Refined Brownstone in Boston’s South End

August 21, 2020

Text by Jennifer Blaise Kramer    Photography by Michael J. Lee


In renovating a five-level brownstone in the South End, two hard-working executives wanted their family home to feel formal, yet comfortable, and sophisticated, but not stuffy. To achieve this tricky balance, the couple enlisted designer Jill Goldberg, owner of Hudson Interior Designs and South End retail shop Hudson. Goldberg has a reputation for beautiful design with a side of whimsy.

“This family wanted a comfortable home that reflected their maturity—a bit tailored, elegant, and hopefully a little approachable,” Goldberg says.

The team, which included Noury-Ello Architects and Timberwolf builders, reimagined each floor of the 3,800-square-foot home through a gut renovation.

“We made an effort to organize the spaces so that each floor felt confident. We opened the first floor up entirely and used built-ins to define spaces and wall paneling to unify the three separate areas,” says architect Claudia Noury-Ello. “The first floor now is dedicated to entertaining, the second floor to the kitchen/family room, and the bedrooms are on the floors above.”

To kick off a symmetrical, elegant statement on the first floor, matching marble fireplaces and Urban Electric Company lantern-style chandeliers tie together the living and dining rooms. The adjacent sitting room sports four upright Charles Stewart chairs covered in a modern Holland & Sherry windowpane plaid.

“I love a good line, but with an updated pattern,” says Goldberg, who strategically layered in texture, pattern, and color to keep the home youthful. A foundation of grays and creams throughout the public spaces lends a formality that’s fit to host coworkers for dinner, however the palette gets punchier on other floors.

Soft pinks and navy blues flood the daughter’s room, while hints of green peek into the main suite. Rosy reds perk up the main bath, where a pop-art lip print is hung above the tub along with an appropriately whimsical Oly Studio bubble chandelier. Casual family spaces get splashes of blue with Rifle Paper Co. floral wallpaper in the powder room and a wet bar painted Benjamin Moore’s Charlotte Slate.

The feeling in the second-floor family room shifts more playful and comfortable thanks to plush furniture and fabrics, such as a bold navy-striped couch in spill-proof Perennials upholstery. If you stripped the room down to the metal chandelier and animal-track-patterned Brunschwig & Fils draperies, Goldberg says it would read formal. To give things a not-so-serious twist, she added a faux-leather ottoman, swivel chairs, and a black-and-white framed photo of Tina Turner.

Much of the artwork comes from Goldberg’s Hudson store, adding lighthearted winks wherever possible. The basement’s “Can I Kick It? Yes You Can” sign mingles with toys, French linen pillows, and urban-inspired
steel-framed glass doors that feel every bit as Brooklyn as Boston. “I always even out elegance with fun,” Goldberg says. “I love the unexpected.”

Project Team
Architecture: Claudia Noury-Ello, Noury-Ello Architects
Interior Design: Jill Goldberg, Hudson Interior Designs
Builder: David Berry, Timberwolf

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