Stylish Family Living with Antiques

February 24, 2021

A nineteenth-century, antiques-filled home in Boston’s Back Bay belies the age of its latest stewards.

Text by Erika Ayn Finch    Photography by John Bressler    Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent

If you walked into the two-and-a-half-story home on Marlborough Street, you’d most likely never guess that the collection of antiques and original artwork, the sumptuous fabrics and bejeweled lighting fixtures, belong to a young family. We’re talking two-toddlers young—the wife gave birth during the installation process. Interior designer Kristen Rivoli says more and more of her clients are expressing appreciation for antiques and “brown furniture,” regardless of their age and family status.

“If they don’t already have it, a lot of time, I’m showing it to them,” she says. “Vintage adds character and personality, and makes a space feel more like a home rather than a showroom. Clients gravitate toward quirky pieces that remind them of the home they grew up in.”

In this instance, Rivoli’s Marlborough Street clients didn’t require an introduction to vintage. They brought their collection, passed down primarily from the husband’s parents and grandparents, with them. “Antiques weren’t treated as precious in his house—they were just furniture,” Rivoli explains. A painting above the fireplace in the mini library is especially “treasured.” The husband’s grandmother gifted him the original Treasure Island book jacket illustration; the piece, and the fact that the couple loves to read, prompted Rivoli to reimagine a portion of the large living room as an intimate reading space.

The antiques were balanced with modern—and occasionally practical—touches, like Benjamin Moore Gibson Gold walls, back-to-back sofas separated by a custom console, Visual Comfort lighting, and a mini mudroom tucked underneath the stairway. The team at Payne | Bouchier Fine Builders opened the kitchen to the stairway by removing a wall. When it came to replacing the molding in the previously squared-off spot, Payne | Bouchier painstakingly replicated the home’s original molding but customized it to mimic the
staircase radius.

Rivoli says, in 2021, homeowners of all ages crave comfort and appreciate repurposing and reusing furnishings. They are also attracted to the craftsmanship of older pieces. Is it safe to call this trending style “grand millennial?”

“Call it what you want,” laughs Rivoli, “but if homeowners are embracing
antiques and vintage items, I’m into it.”

Project Team
Interior design: Kristen Rivoli, Kristen Rivoli Interior Design
Builder: Payne | Bouchier Fine Builders