This Suburban Couple Decamped to a Beacon Hill Apartment
January 1, 2020
Text by Megan Fulweiler Photography by Sarah Winchester
With their children grown, a suburban couple decided their big house was, well, too big. Rather than downsize into a smaller version of what they had, they put their home on the market (complete with all its furnishings except one treasured chandelier) and headed to Boston to claim a new address: the three top floors of a handsome, five-story, nineteenth-century building in the tony Flat of Beacon Hill. Not only was it a dream location, the urban lair came with drop-dead views of the Charles River.
True, there were a few revisions to be made. The rooms had a slightly dated ambience, the layout was quirky, and many of the original character-giving moldings were missing. Topping it off, when the owners stepped from the elevator (which happens to open directly into the condo), they almost walked smack dab into a wall. Still, the couple reckoned, all this could be dealt with easily, and who better to spearhead the changes than designer—and longtime friend—Honey Collins.
Life, however, is full of surprises. And, as is so often the case, one clever idea led to another. Before long, the owners had decided on an extensive renovation. “It snowballed,” agrees the wife without the slightest hint of remorse in her voice. “Honey had all these creative visions. And because we’d worked with her before, we knew we were in good hands.”
Indeed, the subsequent overhaul proves them right. Well familiar with her clients’ aesthetic, Collins contrived a home that’s a chic hybrid of traditional and modern. The palette of blues and misty grays offset here and there with a dash of color, flowing from the entry to the couple’s sleeping quarters, is soothing but also clean and contemporary. The furnishings, most of them custom, are comfortable but never staid. Yesterday’s dowdy air has been thoroughly banished. The reborn living room, for instance, with its high-gloss, sky-colored ceiling and daring mix of fabric patterns and textures, is nothing if not au courant.
Equally fresh, guests are quick to discover, is the dining area. Collins devised an intimate space, cladding the walls in a pretty tone-on-tone chinoiserie paper. A round David Iatesta table furthers conversation, and a welcoming sofa serves as a banquette. With John Pomp’s hand-blown glass light casting soft beams from above, it’s the kind of delicious setting that turns a winter gathering into the warmest of nights.
Appealing cosmetic changes aside, Collins’s real achievement may be the functionality she’s also provided. Case in point? That elevator dilemma. Along with Karpowich Building Contractors, her collaborators throughout this project, she demolished the non-bearing walls separating the lift from the existing lackluster kitchen. Presto! The first floor was given a proper flow and life was enhanced.
Today, the glitzy revamped elevator opens to a custom kitchen with—how did Collins find the space for this?—a cozy sitting area heaven-made for tea or cocktails. The latter more suitable, all involved agree, for toasting a beautiful job well done.