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.
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.”
MORE PHOTOGRAPHS:Marni Elyse Katz is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.