Beyond the Pale
Designer Fernanda Bourlot loves white so much that she named her South End–based home accessories store Simplemente Blanco, which translates from the Spanish as “simply white.” Seven years ago, Bourlot, a willowy brunette, moved to Boston from her native Argentina so her husband, Martin, could study for his MBA. Within a few years, her business had taken off, Martin had landed a great job, and the couple decided to stay…
Designer Fernanda Bourlot loves white so much that she named her South End–based home accessories store Simplemente Blanco, which translates from the Spanish as “simply white.” Seven years ago, Bourlot, a willowy brunette, moved to Boston from her native Argentina so her husband, Martin, could study for his MBA. Within a few years, her business had taken off, Martin had landed a great job, and the couple decided to stay. Today, her newest showroom, at 46 Waltham Street, offers a signature line of bedding, throw pillows, towels, lamps, soaps, and more, and everything is almost exclusively white. “White is peaceful and relaxing,” Bourlot says. “It’s like a fresh new start to every day.”
[sidebar]Bourlot’s palette preference made renovating her century-old Brookline home, where every room displays the varying moods of the cleanest of all hues, a breeze. “White is like a blank sheet of paper that I can write on again and again,” she says. “I don’t ever get tired of it because I can always change the accent colors.”
Her softest take on white is in the 150-square-foot master bedroom, where the color is gently interrupted by hints of lilac with bed linens from Simplemente Blanco and handmade pillows, some with smocked lilac details and others with the Bourlots’ initials handpainted on them. Bourlot likes to see the moon and stars when she goes to sleep, so her windows remain unadorned. The whitewashed floors create a seamless backdrop for the subtle textural variations.
The guest bedroom, which doubles as a studio, plays with contrasts: Here she has black-and-white striped pillows, black camera parts collaged in white matted frames, and large white floor pillows perfect for lounging. Dark and white meet again in the home’s half-bathroom, which Bourlot describes as “very masculine, sleek, and modern.” A deeply stained Wenge table serves as the vanity; a mesh lamp from Simplemente Blanco illuminates the Italian white glass mosaic floor.
Bourlot furnished the living and dining rooms with vintage furniture she found at flea markets and pieces she designed herself. “I prefer custom to brand name, because I always want to have something different, something that nobody else has. Inventing it myself is a way to have everything be original and totally mine,” she says. “That way my furniture can reflect who and what I am, and I know that I will love both the way it looks and its functionality.”
Bourlot’s favorite room is the kitchen. “My kitchen is very, very clean-looking,” she says. It’s also user friendly: “I cook all the time!” To accommodate her culinary passions, she did have to make some concessions, like giving up her dream white marble countertops (they stain too easily), opting instead for Corian in glacier white. The 18-by-18-inch gray floor tiles, concrete with touches of quartz, come from Italy and camouflage dirt. New stainless steel appliances replaced the old, which Bourlot donated to a low-income housing development. Custom cabinets with long stainless pulls, keep her dishes and cooking tools out of sight.
Bourlot eliminates clutter wherever she can, from the style of her furniture (she prefers extremely clean-lined pieces to anything overly ornate) to larger elements like rugs (there are none in her house—she believes bare floors are more beautiful). Her studio area, originally the family room, features an artist’s drawing table and a “very comfy, modern S-shaped chair,” she says. “My working place is as sunny as a Mediterranean beach, and that helps me come up with new ideas to create new things.
“My style is very neat and spare,” she continues. Avoiding clutter and “not overdoing it with a lot of stuff,” she believes, add to an environment’s serenity. Stacks of magazines and unpaid bills, lots of tchotchkes, and too much furniture crammed into a room can contribute to stress. “When you enter your home,” she says, “you should feel as though you’ve arrived at your own oasis.”