Boston House Tour: The Style of Success – A South End Entrepreneur Shares His Home and Business

This is from our Boston finalist, Melissa. Comment away!

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Name: Stephen Gross
Location: South End, Boston
Own/Rent: Owned and run as a B&B

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The Clarendon Square Inn is part home, part home away from home. In 1994, owner, Stephen, spent 11 months personally designing, renovating, and decorating a single family brownstone in the South End. We were so inspired by the transformation we had to share it with AT. We spoke to Stephen to gain insight on his experience and design sense, and find out what has been drawing people from all over the world to his B&B for the past 14 years...
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AT SURVEY

Inspiration?
The decor is the summary of Stephen's travels around the world. Travel continues to be his inspiration still today.

Favorite?
The parlor. Stephen really enjoys the juxtaposition of the traditional Victorian shell with modern elements. He tells us, "Having an eclectic style keeps your eye awake."

Biggest Challenge?

Opening up the parlor to a floor-through. In taking out the supporting wall, Stephen had to replace it with a huge steel beam that went through to the basement.

Favorite Momento?
The two Russian prints in the library, purchased from a 20-year-old kid on the streets of Moscow.

Biggest Splurge?
Refinishing the wood in the dining room ceiling to make it a stunning ornamental ceiling.

Best Bargain?
The best bang for Stephen's buck was radiant heat in the floors.

Best Advice?
Do all the bones at once. Don't start until you're ready to do the whole thing or else you'll end up paying a lot more to go back and make changes. For decorating, take your time. Initially, Stephen bought inexpensive furniture as placeholders while he looked for permanent pieces. As he acquired new pieces, he was able to sell the old, and made back most of the original cost. Stephen loves the store Garage Sale on Waltham Street, which buys and sells gently used furniture.

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RESOURCES AND DESIGN TIPS:

Light Power – Sells and rebuilds light fixtures and chandeliers. (Wareham Street, Boston)

Restoration Resources
– Purchased 2 marble mantles here. Specializes in New England period remnants. (Thayer Street, Boston)

Pasek
– Hardware, door locks, and security systems. (South Boston)

Harry’s Carpet One – Sells designer carpet, normally trade only, to the public. (Quincy, MA)

Sedia Inc – Little known store creating reproductions of classic contemporary furniture. (Albany Street, Boston)

Donghia – Stephen waits for the annual sample sales at this Design Center showroom. Selling furniture, textile, and accessories. (Design Center, Boston)

Garage Sale – Consignment store for gently used furniture, art, and home goods. (Waltham Street, Boston)

Restoration Hardware
– The black vintage-inspired phone in the dining room.

Zimman’s
– Where Stephen found fabric for custom headboards. (Lynn, MA)

Italian Design – Dining room chairs. (Brookline, MA)

Phillipe Stark – The two Cosi chairs in the dining room bay window.

Charles Tersolo – Local artist who created the small portraits on the mantle, the lion painting in entryway, and many other pieces throughout the house. (Harrison Avenue, Boston)

Kohler – Bathroom tubs and fixtures.

Porcher – Bathroom sinks.

Milord Antiques
– Where the main chandelier in the parlor was purchased. An easy 5 hour drive from Boston, this Montreal store is on Rue Notre Dame, a street famous for great antique finds… especially when the dollar was a little stronger! (Rue Notre Dame, Montreal, Canada)

Benjamin Moore – Stephen used these paints throughout the house, but experimented by mixing them as he painted to get the exact shade he wanted.

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- Melissa

(Thanks, Melissa!)

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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