Nick & Katie Redefine “Cozy” in Boston’s South End

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Samara Vise)

Names: Katie Kavanagh and Nick Kuizenga
Location: South End — Boston, Massachusetts
Size: 550 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years; Rented

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Many of us have learned that in the world of apartment hunting, the word “cozy” is often a euphemism for “small.” And Nick and Katie’s apartment, part of a brownstone that was once a single family home, is no exception. Despite the luxury of having two floors and lovely high ceilings, the apartment is still only 550 square feet, making every decorating decision an important one. Form and function reign above all else, and while no space is taken for granted, the couple is careful not to squeeze in too much. For example, when Katie’s mom gave her a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas, Katie purged an entire shelf’s contents just to accommodate it. The result? A clutter-free space filled with only the most essential components of a cozy, modern home.

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

Nick and Katie met in college while they were both studying abroad in London. Katie is American and Nick is Dutch, and after a few years dating overseas and long distance, Nick made the move to Boston. They are now married—sweet photos from their simple city hall wedding grace the bedroom walls—and this apartment is their first together. Decorating it has been a joint effort, and while Katie is surrounded by design inspiration every day in her job at Lekker Home, when seeking out a particular piece she’ll always make sure to present Nick with options. Because space is so tight, each new addition or change in decor is considered thoroughly.

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

When Katie first visited Nick’s childhood home in Holland, what she saw was entirely different from the homes of her childhood friends in Philadelphia, where family rooms exuded comfort and coziness with rolled-arm chairs and overstuffed sofas. Nick’s parents’ home had an open floor plan, with minimalist furnishings made from solid wood, glass, metal, and other materials that might be considered “cold” by U.S. standards. These staples of modernism, complemented by soft accents and textiles, created a family environment that was also cozy, albeit in a different way.

The Dutch sensibility changed Katie’s preconceptions of what a truly modern family home could look like, but how did the U.S. sensibility change Nick? Well, let’s just say the large TV in the living room is not Katie’s doing. “He came all the way to America,” she jokes. “I had to meet him halfway.”

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We like clean lines and simplicity but have a strong love for Mid-century classics. Nick is from Holland, and his design eye is very defined. We’ve loved the experience of purchasing new items together. Basically everything I [Katie] had before Nick moved to America was from college, and while some IKEA still remains, we’re phasing everything out and replacing it slowly with quality items we love.

Inspiration: Working in the design industry is great because inspiring spaces come across my desk everyday, be it a customer’s home, a project a designer is working on, a seasonal floor change for the showroom, or new catalogs from manufacturers.

Favorite Element: Having two floors is key in such a small space. We can both spread out.

Biggest Challenge: The kitchen! Most people can’t imagine how we survive but everything has a home.

What Friends Say: Cozy and cool! “I can’t believe you make such a small space so functional. Everything serves a purpose.”

Biggest Embarrassment: It’s a rental, so the off-white walls, bleach-stained carpeting, and various holes in the wall from prior tenants are not the greatest. Strategically placed rugs and artwork helps!

Proudest DIY: Turning the deck from an overexposed alley view into a private lounge area.

Biggest Indulgence: Wassily Lounge Chair

Best Advice: Only buy the things you really love and plan on keeping forever.

Dream Sources: I love going directly to the sourcebooks for major brands. Furniture manufacturers have beautiful catalogs and image banks on their sites, I love browsing through those. Also there is no shortage of great interior-focused Instagram pages, like @lucdesign, @alexanderwhitesthlm, @mywoodcrete, and of course @lekkerhome.


(Image credit: Samara Vise)


  • Kitchen backsplash: BEHR Nordic Blue
  • (Image credit: Samara Vise)


    • Sofa: IKEA
    • Coffee table: IKEA
    • Rug: Jaipur
    • Wassily chair: Knoll
    • Cushions: H&M, Coral & Tusk, vintage hide
    • Throw: Vitra
    • Large photograph: a store display from Cisco Brothers
    (Image credit: Samara Vise)


    • Chairs: CH24 Wishbone by Carl Hansen
    • Eames chairs: Herman Miller
    • Dining table: IKEA
    (Image credit: Samara Vise)


    • Bar cart: vintage via Brimfield Flea
    • Small storage solutions: IKEA
    (Image credit: Samara Vise)


    • Bed: Station by Blu Dot
    • Comforter: Area Bedding
    • Throw pillow: Coral & Tusk
    • Timber table: Gus Modern
    • Nightstand: IKEA
    • Rugs: World Market, Jaipur
    • Dresser: IKEA
    • Stools: Cisco Brothers
    • Lamp: RBW
    • Ladder: Menu
    • Wall pendant: secondhand, possibly from an East Asian importer in New York
    (Image credit: Samara Vise)


    • Desk: IKEA
    • Bookshelf: IKEA
    • Chair: Sayl from Herman Miller
    (Image credit: Samara Vise)


    • Chairs: IKEA
    • Rug: IKEA
    • Reed fencing: Home Depot
    • Yellow bench: World Market
    • Wood bench: IKEA
    • Umbrella: IKEA
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    Welcome to Katie and Nick’s modern home in a traditional South End brownstone! (Image credit: Samara Vise)

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    Thanks, Katie & Nick!