before an empty-nest couple bought their penthouse pied-à-terre on
Rowes Wharf, they had traipsed through condominiums in every major
residential building on the Boston waterfront, hoping to experience that
“Aha” moment. They had seen some stunning spaces, so it took them by
surprise when they walked into the 20-year-old unit, which the husband
described as “not very nice,” and thought, “This is it!”
“It was a beautiful sunny clear day, and the view was spectacular,”
the husband says. “I knew it was going to take a lot of work … but with the
views and the fireplace, it doesn’t get any better than this.’ ”
But it did.
They hired Robert Ernst, president of FBN Construction of Boston,
who has years of experience reworking condos in buildings where immovable steel and concrete need to
be met with ingenious but practical solutions. He suggested
they relocate the windowless
corner kitchen to a guest bedroom that overlooked the city.
By removing a wall, the new
kitchen would be open to the
living/dining area, creating the
Macro plan established, the owners turned to Boston interior designer
Leslie Fine for aesthetic details and a modern minimalist approach. To
fine-tune the kitchen, Rosemary Porto, senior designer for Poggenpohl
Boston, was added to the team. Their forward-thinking design scheme
interior design :: leslie fine interiors inc.
kitchen design :: poggenpohl boston
builder :: fbn construction
lighting design :: light insight design studio
photography :: eric roth
free-flowing floor plan the owners desired — and every corner of the room
would have both harbor and city views. “I knew we could figure out a way
to do it,” says Ernst.
structural challenges meet discreet design solutions when an
immovable chase between the refrigerator and the wall ovens (bottom left) is
obscured with stainless steel. Plumbing, wiring, and ductwork are hidden inside
soffits. A Dornbracht tap (bottom right) creates a fountainlike effect against
the riverstone backsplash which adds natural texture to the room.
the diagonally laid dark-stained walnut floor flows from the kitchen into
the dining/living area where it draws the eye to the sweeping views of the
harbor. Artwork was selected with Jacqueline Becker Fine Arts Consulting.
mixed hard-edged materials, such as steel and glass, with natural textures
and colors such as river stone and teak in a gray finish.
To keep the plan open and the views unobstructed, overhead cabinets,
the refrigerator, ovens, wine cooler, sink, and dishwasher were limited to
two walls. The cook top is in an island, a sculptural statement with a glass
surface, steel on two sides, and teak cabinets for added storage. The trapezoidal lines of the building’s outside wall made placing the island a study in
geometry. Set at a right angle to the back wall, the island creates a triangular space between it and the window where a guest can stand and observe
the cook or study the Customs House that dominates the view.
Also geometric in execution is the glass-and-steel breakfast bar that
splays out from the wall, both defining the kitchen and connecting it to
the living area, where the color palette is the dark blue-green of water and
softer blue of the sky. The one windowless wall is sheathed in sandblasted
mirror with thick glass shelves that inspired the opaque glass doors on the
upper kitchen cabinets, further unifying the space.
“We bought this place thinking we would spend one or two nights a
week here,” says the husband, who works nearby and had been commuting from a suburb north of Boston. “Now we are here five, sometimes six
nights. It’s home.” ::