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    Your Home | Makeovers

    Empty nesters find serenity in a sleek Back Bay condo

    Impressionistic and abstract art adorn the walls amid a palette of whites and grays.

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    In the living room, which overlooks Beacon Street, soft blue-gray draperies frame the tall windows, and a Murano glass chandelier with black shades draws the eye.

    When Rhode Island empty nesters decided to move back to Boston, they called on the team that designed the oceanfront home in which they had raised their family — Newport-based interior designer Eileen Marcuvitz, principal of Plum Interiors, and Boston-based architect James Cullion. “It’s the fourth home I’ve done with them, and the third for James,” Marcuvitz says. “They knew we could create something that would feel like home here, too.”

    The couple had fond memories of the Back Bay from early in their marriage. The condo they bought there, a four-bedroom duplex, needed refinement. “The architectural detailing was awkward, inconsistent, and out of scale,” Cullion says. “And the openings between rooms were carelessly placed and poorly executed.”

    The doorway from the foyer to the dining room was shoved into a corner, so Cullion nudged it over and properly trimmed it. He replaced the faux columns that flanked the opening between the dining and living rooms with a cased entry. To address the insufficient separation between the family room and kitchen, he created an archway. The fixes, though straightforward, significantly improved both the overall look and the flow.


    When it came to decor, the homeowners were drawn to cosmopolitan design. Marcuvitz devised a soft, sophisticated palette of whites, grays, and muted blues accented with rich woods and a touch of black. Ethereal paint colors create a sense of floating from one room to the next. Furnishings are casually elegant, and art is often the focal point. “They wanted the spaces to have beautiful art, so I made art the star,” Marcuvitz says.

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    In the dining room, a painting by British artist Rose Hilton pops against the pale gray walls, painted Benjamin Moore Marilyn’s Dress. The oval table, from The Martin Group in the Boston Design Center, allows for easy circulation.
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    In the dining room, an impressionistic painting Marcuvitz and the wife found at a gallery in London adds feminine hues. Strong but sinuous silhouettes dominate, from the Murano glass chandelier to the plush dining chairs. A richly grained walnut sideboard offers a rectilinear contrast and hints at the material and forms in the kitchen.

    The adjacent living room glows from the combination of sunlight through the tall windows — draperies hung flush to newly installed crown molding accentuate their height — and the lofty lacquered ceiling. Sharp walnut forms mingle with upholstered seating. Artwork, including a painting from Complements Art Gallery in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, anchors either end of the room.

    Marcuvitz likens the mood of the family room to that of a warm, snowy day. A pen-and-ink abstract hangs above the fireplace, refurbished in ceramic tile with a marble surround. A pinstriped carpet adds structure and a masculine vibe.

    Through the new arch is the kitchen. Bulthaup walnut veneer cabinetry surrounds a glossy white island and quartzite table, positioned so the TV in the family room is visible. Everything is crisp, from the custom range hood to the task lighting. The contrast with the home’s classic sensibility is exciting.


    Says Cullion: “The project pays homage to the spirit of the Back Bay, with a commitment to contemporary styling.”


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    The floor in the entry is a mosaic of limestone and honed black marble with burnished bronze inserts that play off the artwork, purchased by the husband in Florence, Italy.

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    Interior designer Eileen Marcuvitz designed the dramatic bed, with a tufted headboard and stainless steel trim. “The homeowners wanted a glamorous bedroom,” she says.

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    In the family room, the Bezel cocktail table by Donghia has a sinuous leather-covered base and durable marble top. The artwork over the fireplace is from Miami gallery Rosenbaum Contemporary.

    BEFORE: The kitchen, pre-renovation.

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    AFTER: An Artemide Logico handblown glass suspension light hangs above the kitchen table. Architect James Cullion designed the range hood, which has a high-gloss painted finish and stainless steel trim. The backsplash is porcelain, a budget-friendly alternative to marble.

    Marni Elyse Katz is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.