Urban Oasis

November 8, 2012

Interior designer Ana Donohue achieves a homeowner's vision of sublime calm, without a hint of yawn.

Text by Marni Elyse Katz    Photography by Michael J. Lee

Boston’s Back Bay and Bermuda are 775 miles apart, but when a Bermuda-based couple, whose daughters attend a New England boarding school, shuttle between their homes in each locale, the transition is practically seamless. Interior designer Ana Donohue transformed the 1,600-square-foot Back Bay pied-à-terre into a sophisticated, sun-filled space consistent with the look and feel of her clients’ expansive Bermuda abode.

The most challenging aspect lay in the designer’s idea to turn the unit’s dark floors white. “Our contractor asked, ‘Are you sure? Someone spent a lot of money on these, they’re solid walnut,’” the homeowner recalls. She and Donohue stuck to their instincts. The sanding and bleaching resulted in a soft, creamy white, reminiscent of pickled flooring. Donohue says, “It’s a connection to Bermuda, but in an urban setting.”

Dark gray walls provide a dramatic backdrop for the clean lines of white furnishings like the sophisticated B&B Italia sofa and Cassina chair. A textural, silvery rug from Landry & Arcari keeps the palette uniform. Adhering to the minimal aesthetic, Donahue left the beautiful, tall windows bare, the better to see the charming city view.

Missoni pillows in graphic prints infuse a bit of color. To add warmth, the designer evenly distributed amber-toned elements—a Foscarini pendant, a pair of curvy side tables and a Jonathan Adler burled wood desk. She considered upholstering a living room chair in a tobacco hue, but the homeowner demurred. “I didn’t want anything to stand out too dramatically,” she explains.

Instead, artwork provides a boost of energy. Fine arts consultant Jacqueline Becker chose abstracts with slightly punchier oranges to pick up the color thread. In the girls’ room, where, their mother reports, they requested “lots of color,” Becker hung a neon-brilliant canvas above the beds. Donohue worked in a zingy orange nightstand and a playful llama-wool zebra rug, and dotted the white bedding with fuchsia, green and yellow accent pillows.

Everyone’s happy with the result. “It’s peaceful, modern, with

a bit of an edge,” the homeowner says. “Exactly what I like, wherever I am.”

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