Naseem’s Back Bay Live / Work Space

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Naseem Alizadeh of The Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 2

Yet again, I experienced apartment envy when I arrived to take photos of Naseem’s Back Bay rental, a lovely home we first spotted in her Apartment Therapy House Call. It’s easy to imagine the two years Naseem has lived here morphing into ten. This is the kind of place that would be hard to leave. The giant bowed windows, allowing in the most delightful natural light, the two (!) fireplaces, the white floored kitchen sandwiched between two lovely hardwood floored rooms, the dainty size of the place. I love it all.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Not to mention how beautifully Naseem has decorated on a budget, with a predominantly IKEA inventory, yet it feels nothing like an IKEA decorated apartment. How odd. Well, not really considering that Naseem recently launched her own architecture firm, Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism. And even more amazing, though her living room serves as the control center for her company, it doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in the middle of someone’s home office. I tried to articulate to Naseem how it feels and it went something like this: “I feel inspired being in your living room slash office, and I can imagine sitting here watching a movie as a guest and once in a while glancing over at your dreamy desk and imagining that some great thinking and doing happens at that desk.”

I think one of the major ways that Naseem manages to offset the IKEA-heavy furnishings is by incorporating beautiful, one-of-a-kind rugs in her living room and bedroom, all of which are from her parents’ rug store. The Tibetan rug in the living room is especially dreamy. The creamy walls and abundant natural light create the perfect envelope for her spare, but intimate style. My mind felt free here. Naseem sprinkles just enough personal effects around the space to remind you that you’re in a personal space, but not so many that they’re overwhelming or distracting.

All told, Naseem’s apartment left me feeling eager to suggest this young architect to the next person who’s in the market for design services.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My style: Clean lines, light, warmth, and simplicity.

Inspiration: Swedish and Italian design.

Favorite Element: Getting good sunlight.

Biggest Challenge: Having the living room function as my office/studio as well, but I think it works.

What Friends Say: They have been very gracious, saying that it’s an inspiring, inviting space.

Biggest Embarrassment: That a lot of the furniture is from IKEA. While I actually like IKEA, I say that it’s embarrassing for 2 reasons — it’s not good quality and it’s not at all environmentally friendly.

Proudest DIY: While I have made some neat things in previous apartments (like a divan), I kind of feel like everything here was more or less one big DIY, especially in the kitchen. I painted things, sewed things, and now grow things! The white mesh Sculptura chair in the bedroom: I brought it back to life after spending +20 years exposed to the elements on my parents’ deck.

Biggest Indulgence: Probably the apartment itself! I’m paying for location, location, location!

Best advice: Be resourceful, start with a simple color palette.

Dream source: I have so many, ranging from The Design Supermarket at La Rinascente in Milan to any decent flea market.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:



    • Couches, Office Furniture: IKEA
    • Pillows: Urban Outfitters
    • Rugs: Azar’s Gallery


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Naseem!

Images: Kyle Freeman

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