ittle did Boston interior designer Fotene Demoulas know when she bought
a two-bedroom, two-bath floor-through apartment in Boston’s Back Bay in
1987 that a high-flying real estate gambit lurked on her personal horizon.
Single and concentrating on her interiors firm, Fotene Designs, she worked
out of a studio on nearby Newbury Street, keeping her private life separate
from her professional life.
More than a decade later, in l998 and 1999, the two apartments directly
above her unexpectedly and separately became available. Long wanting to
expand, she bought them both, giving her not only two more entire floors
but also access to the roof. Who could blame Demoulas if visions of a triplex apartment crowned by
a new, year-round room and roof garden danced in her head?
As built, the only roof access was via a crouching, undersized door, a problem solved when the
Back Bay Architectural Commission granted permission for a new 14-by-30-foot rooftop room that
would double as a head house, providing access from the living quarters to the roof. Commission
restrictions specified the new structure’s outside height could not exceed 8 feet, a blip that Demoulas
handled by dropping the interior floor a foot.
“It wasn’t a major deal in this case, because the roof conversion was going on side by side with
the residential remodel,” she says. “And a 9-foot-tall ceiling made a world of difference in the sense
of space that this particular room gained.”
Now, a relocated stairway ascends from the family floors to what Demoulas calls a “wow
entrance” into the new head house with its spectacular views on three sides. Essentially a sim-
ple box — “no soffits for me,” she says — the room has a copper-clad exterior surrounded by a
mahogany-planked 24-by-50-foot deck. Iron railings are backdrops for Janus et Cie modular outdoor
the new head house room
(above) has a completely
outfitted walnut kitchenette
(facing page, top left).
The landscaping on the
wraparound deck was
designed by Keith LeBlanc
Landscape Architecture of
Boston. It offers a corner
for grilling (facing page,
top right) and a corner for
dining (facing page,
bottom), where Demoulas
chats with her stepdaughter,
Laura, before the alfresco
meal is served.