House Tour: North End Contemporary Renovation

Boston

Name: Mark Cutone and Joe Paul of BPC Architecture
Location: North End, Boston, Massachusetts
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: Owned 3 Years

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These two Nantucket architects — each with different needs but similar tastes — decided to create an urban getaway for their families. The result is an 800 square foot shared apartment that could either be a play space for three small children or a setting for drinks in the city. Living on Nantucket year-round in larger dwellings made the experience in contrast — of style, context, and scale — enriching, allowing each to appreciate both the city and island environments even more. The North End has always been one of the country’s most vibrant neighborhoods and paring that environment with a clean, contemporary living space makes for a lovely result...

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It's interesting to us (Wes & Kayla) the idea of designing a "city home" rather than a "country home." When you live in the city, designing something uber urban for everyday life doesn't seem ideal, comfortable or adaptable to the day-in, day-out routines of life, at least for us. But if we lived in the country (or on an island) and had this opportunity, we would go super sleek and hotel-esque, too. We love that this boutique space is in the middle of the old North End, in the heart of downtown Boston. What a great weekend (city) getaway...

Apartment Therapy Survey
Our style/Inspiration: We are hotel junkies so a lot of elements we incorporated into the design were inspired by experiences at various boutique hotels in the US and Europe.
Favorite Element: The hidden door that leads to the second half of the apartment. Guests just assume it is another kitchen cabinet. Always a fun moment when they realize that there is 400 sq feet in that cabinet.
Biggest Challenge: Renovating a unit in a building that is occupied. A little like open heart surgery.
What Friends Say: They often feel as though they are in some swanky mod hotel suite. They also comment on the serenity of the space.
Biggest Embarrassment: We were embarrassed we hadn’t elected to take the project on sooner – once we jumped in, it was a blast.
Proudest DIY: We didn’t actually lift a hammer, but the design, furnishings, and accessories were all us. We were very pleased with the end result.
Biggest Indulgence: Making the bathroom really nice – it was small but we wired it for sound and heated the tile floor. Feels like the smallest spa in the world.
Best advice: Be sure to go out of your way to be super considerate to your neighbors. Angry neighbors can become a mob real fast.

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Resources
Appliances:


  • Sub-0 — perfect for tight spaces

  • Miele — open kitchen so quiet operation is a must

  • Bosch — we really liked their styling when it came to the cooking elements


Hardware:

  • Haefele — we wanted something very clean for the kitchen

  • The door hardware is FSB — commercial, again, very clean


Furniture: Most of the pieces were sourced from Design Within Reach and Crate & Barrel. We purchased some slightly retro pieces from DWR and were very happy with them. At Crate we found some pieces that complimented the selections from DWR but also fit our budget.
Accessories: The kitchen was designed with open shelving so many of the pieces we use everyday had to look good and become accessories to the overall look. When backlit they almost look like jewelry. Our favorite indulgence with respect to accessories is the Aldo Rossi tea and coffee set.
Lighting: As architects we are fortunate to realize that lighting is critical in bringing the design to life as natural light fades. We spent quite some time making sure that the surfaces and details were properly washed. Guests often comment on the lighting but they can’t quite describe what it is that appeals to them. We think that makes for a successful lighting design. As a result we used very little task light — much of it was integrated into the architecture.
Tiles and Stone: We predominantly used carrara marble for the kitchen counters and the bathroom. It is a classic that goes with everything and won’t look dated 5-10 years from now. It worked great as a kitchen counter material against the dark wenge cabinets. The contrast was perfect.
Window Treatments: We focused our attention on the window wall of the Living Area. We elected to drape the entire wall in a slightly opaque white material. It worked to bring uniformity to the wall and diffused the light coming into the space creating an almost ethereal-like quality.
Paint: We used Benjamin Moore colors. The blue is actually Smoke Stack Grey — we get a lot of people asking about that. We reintroduced it in various spaces as you move through the apartment. It makes for nice fluidity as one moves from space to space.
Flooring: There was fir already in the apartment so we continued with that species but stained it a dark espresso. The result looks great, but remember dark floors show everything!

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Images: BPC Architecture

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