The Educated Guest
The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton are luxurious, comfortable and outfitted with the finest appointments—all of them with exactly the same appointments. Unless, that is, the home in question has been redesigned by Boston’s Duffy Design Group. That’s what happened to a 2,300-square-foot, two-bedroom penthouse
The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton are luxurious, comfortable and outfitted with the finest appointments—all of them with exactly the same appointments. Unless, that is, the home in question has been redesigned by Boston’s Duffy Design Group.
That’s what happened to a 2,300-square-foot, two-bedroom penthouse on the 38th floor overlooking Boston Common. Perched high above the city, the penthouse came with spectacular views. But the apartment’s inhabitant, a graduate student at Harvard, wanted the interior to be just as memorable. “He wanted it to be very dramatic,” says designer Dennis Duffy. “He wanted it to be modern and sexy, and to incorporate elements of his Indonesian culture—he wanted Asian elements involved in a way that’s not strictly referential or explicit, and still modern.” In other words, he didn’t want it to look like anyplace else.
That’s evident from the first step inside. “We completely took out the existing foyer,” says Duffy. The owner wanted a striking entrance, so Duffy removed all the standard stone and installed a French limestone floor inlaid with a wide band of Lagos Azul limestone. The pattern of the floor is echoed in the ceiling, which features a double cove with a faceted resin center pendant and LED lighting that shines in more than 30 colors. The cove’s nickel lacquer finish reflects the color of the lights. All this is a surprising backdrop for an antique Korean wedding cabinet, where a sculpture of Quan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, rests.
Unexpected elements come together in the main living area. The ceiling is lacquered in a satin nickel finish; the warm cherry floor is covered by a plush Persian rug. In a small lounge area, a Chinese wedding bed with custom-made pillows and cushions is the focal point. “It makes the space very serene,” Duffy says.
PUTTING ON THE RITZ
Set slightly apart from the rest of the living room is an inviting yet functional work area where the walls are covered in a dark, cozy taupe hemp. The graphic desk and chair come from Montage; the nearby daybed—perfect for a change of position during long days of studying—is a custom Duffy design that can be pressed into service as a twin guest bed when needed.
Adjoining the living room is a small “cafe area” that serves as the “garden” space because there isn’t a real one. The walls are adorned with a floral wallpaper, and a faceted mirror was designed to suggest water. “We created a bar area there,” Duffy says, “with a custom stainless cafe table and stools in front of a window. Since he entertains a lot, it makes sense—it’s a great place to hang out.”
A powder room in the public area of the apartment became a key to entertaining. This home has five bathrooms, and even the smallest includes a shower. So Duffy cut the space down to size and camouflaged the shower in parachute fabric.
The penthouse has its share of private spaces. “The goal for the master bedroom was something a little softer than the living room—not quite as cool,” Duffy says. He designed bed linens with shots of warm colors, decorated one wall with a nature-inspired triptych, and designed a graceful velvet love seat to fit into a window bay. Side tables from the Icon Group in the Boston Design Center flank the love seat and lend a bit of deco design to the room. The wall behind the bed is upholstered in horizontal bands of Ultrasuede separated with mahogany. The custom wool carpet, based on an original Savonnerie design, is a mix of paprika, coral, ivory and taupe shades.
Thoughtful design isn’t confined to the areas the client uses for himself. “He wanted the guest bedroom to be soft and inviting—and a little more feminine, so the home as a whole wasn’t overwhelmingly masculine,” Duffy says. A light taupe basecoat on the walls offsets thin, almost delicate bands of silver paint that evoke a widely spaced beaded curtain. Custom bed linens in soothing neutrals further soften the area; the bed and shelving are designed to be clean and functional, and offer guests plenty of space and storage for their belongings.
Which is a good thing, because this home at the Ritz has become a unique place—a far cry from any typical hotel room or residence—where visitors will surely want to stay awhile.