Comfort Zone

When you’re living within city limits, space comes at a premium. So it goes without saying that architects Monica Ponce de Leon and Gregory Saldana, who purchased an Italianate row house in the South End, wanted a home that every member of their family—including two children and two dogs—could enjoy. The result is a place overflowing with personality, from eclectic art to high-end-but-not-too-precious furnishings. (Case in point: an elegant midcentury couch, one arm nibbled by the playful pups.) "We all live in every room, and every room is lived in," says Ponce de Leon, one of the founders and principals at award-winning design firm Office dA. "We feel at home because we are here—here among our children, the dogs, the books, the photographs, the objects."  

Soon, a job will take them out of town—Ponce de Leon has accepted a post as dean of the architecture college at the University of Michigan—and they’ll carry all those signs of togetherness with them. "But the plan is to retire here," asserts Saldana, who runs his own consulting practice in Boston. And when they do, their home will be here waiting for them—and, of course, for their dogs.

View the slide show below.

FAMILY TIES: Ponce de Leon and Saldana relax in their South End townhouse with their children, Beatriz and Simon, and their two Vizslas, Zsa-Zsa and Buda.

The sunlight-filled blue room, which features a 1950s sconce above a 19th-century reproduction Empire table, a Bauhaus lamp by Christian Dell, blond bookshelves and a green armchair by Paul McCobb, a Marcel Breuer–designed table, and a cowhide from Ecuador; on the mantel are fragments of the room’s original ceiling medallion.


The cozy family.

A dining room table and two chairs from McCobb’s Connoisseur Collection, circa-1948 Eames chairs from the DAR collection, a sideboard from McCobb’s Planner series, a blown-glass pendant lamp by Jasper Morrison, and historical panoramic photographs.

The nursery, with framed drawings by daughter Beatriz, a crib and floor lamp from Ikea, a doll from South End store Tadpole, Grandma Saldana’s rocking lamb, a chrome piggy bank by Harry Allen, and a children’s guitar from Mexico.

Pint-size Beatriz gives Buda a squeeze. In the background is a wooden bookcase by McCobb that holds a collection of 20th-century Scandinavian glass pieces and one of the first Bell telephones designed by Henry Dreyfuss; the floor is original pumpkin pine.

In the master bedroom are six paintings by Venezuelan artist Egilda Gonzales, commissioned by Ponce de Leon’s mother.

The so-called world’s smallest kitchen, which Saldana designed.

A Mission-style 19th-century barrister bookcase displays Wagenfeld egg boilers, 1938 Wagenfeld Kubus stacking containers, a George Nelson clock reproduction, and Russel Wright dinnerware. A Brio toy train from Tadpole sits on the floor.

Clad in brilliant white leather instead of the usual black, the iconic (and ergonomic) Eames lounge chair brightens up a corner. Designed by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller furniture in 1956, the style has been in continuous production ever since.

Artfully arranged family photos sit atop a wall-mounted bookcase built by Saldana.

Clean-lined, utilitarian, and—at under $100—affordable, a wooden Ikea crib makes a practical nursery addition.

In the family’s roomy, light-filled dining area, a large, blond wood sideboard by midcentury designer McCobb conceals extra storage; four of Ponce de Leon’s historic panoramic photos hang on the wall above.

Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2008/09/comfort-zone/