Lawrence's South Boston Light Box

Lawrence's South Boston Light Box

Ronee Saroff
Jan 12, 2010

Names: Lawrence Shevick, Real Estate Sales Person/Artist
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Size: 1,361 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5

When I first received photos of Lawrence Shevick's uncluttered townhouse in South Boston, I assumed he wanted to sell me something. I was only half-right. True, the veteran real estate agent has dibs on some of the most unique properties in New England, but that wasn't part of the pitch. Instead, what he sold me on was a vision of vertical, small-space living that is thoughtful, efficient, and undeniably cool.

A visual artist and world traveler, Shevick brought a painterly approach to the design of his townhouse. "New England has such beautiful light," he says. "I wanted it to feel like you're inside a light box." To that end, Shevick designed the home to have Eastern, Western, and Northern exposures. "You can see the detail of the landscape much better in that light," he says.

Which is a good thing, considering the house offers fantastic views. From the top-floor balcony, you can see South Boston Church, the downtown skyline, and Boston Harbor all set against the urban industrial backdrop of South Boston with its symphony of colorful cranes and brick warehouses.

To help him complete his vision, Shevick hired Boston architecture firm Utile, whose smart design solutions complemented both his modern aesthetic and his sensible budget. In the bedrooms, they added soffits to house mechanical systems and create built-in nooks for IKEA wardrobes. In the kitchen, Shevick chose stock cabinetry in a reflective, high-gloss finish and a narrow profile refrigerator. The low kitchen windows allow for additional storage above. And an exterior mounted sliding door allows Shevick to close off the kitchen from the rest of the living space entirely.

Efficiencies were gained in less obvious places as well. Large, low-emittance casement windows throughout the house circulate air in three directions to help with ventilation. Deeper, wider wall cavities hold more high-performance insulation to resist heat loss. An ultra-efficient, gas-fired mechanical system provides instant hot water. And a retractable awning on the balcony helps with light control in the summer.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My style: Contemporary, Mid-Century, pure, clean, minimal, rectangular, not overly furnished

Inspiration: Urban industrial views, monastic simplicity, New England light

Favorite Element: The vertical layout and having three directions of natural light. I like that you can close off the kitchen from the rest of the living space. I also love the balcony, which feels like an extension of the upstairs den.

Biggest Challenge: Organizing for vertical living and getting the floor stain right. It took 5-6 coats to get it that dark, but I love how it turned out.

What Friends Say: Wow

Proudest DIY: Choosing the lighting, paint colors, materials, and finishes. I also decided to do the tempered glass back splash in the kitchen, which is hung over a painted surface and simply adhered with clips.

Biggest Indulgence: Buying iconic chairs and lamps

Best Advice: Keep spaces simple and uncluttered; Choose materials that won't be dated. I'm addicted to moving, so I try to avoid making design choices that are too personal.

Dream Source: Sedia, Y Lighting, Design Within Reach, Kartel, Knoll, Craigslist

Resources of Note:


    • High gloss thermo foil cabinets by Metropolitan
    • Recycled quartz countertops by Caeserstone
    • Bosch appliances
    • Refrigerator by Liebherr


    • Knoll couch from Sedia
    • Chandelier sconce from Ligne Roset
    • Chairs from Design Within Reach


    • IKEA Pax wardrobes
    • Artemide Tolomeo sconces
    • George Nelson Bubble lamp from Design Within Reach
    • Barcelona couch from Knoll Studio
    • Eames chair from Design Within Reach
    • Artwork by Jim Kennedy (master) and Susan Levin (guest)


    • Duravit wall-mount sinks
    • Dual-flush Toto Aquia toilets
    • Artemide Rezek chrome strip lighting


    • George Nelson Case Study couch from Modernica
    • Reproduction Womb chair
    • Rug from CB2


    • Flooring is stained character-grade oak
    • Paint is Benjamin Moore Eco-Spec
    • Rotating gallery of artwork by Shevick and friends
    • Accessories from travels and Brimfield Antique Fair
    • Cranes courtesy of the Boston Redevelopment Authority

Thanks, Lawrence!

Images: Ronee Saroff, Derek Szabo, Sebastian Diessel

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