History Lesson

An old, cramped South End condo gets a 21st-century makeover. By Kayla Canne

south end makeover

photograph by bob o’connor

Interior designer Josh Linder and his client were instantly drawn to this Victorian-era South End brownstone’s French architectural stylings. “It has a really unusual mansard roof,” says Linder, paired with “amazingly high ceilings and huge windows.” But inside, the 880-square-foot condo was anything but grand: Stripped of its original details, its main feature was a rambling hallway that chopped up the two-bedroom, one-bath layout. Here, Linder, of Evolve Residential, explains how he and his client collaborated to make the mazelike abode feel spacious without losing its rich history.

layout copy

living small south end

Photograph by bob o’connor

Think Tall

High ceilings and oversize windows can work wonders in a small space, especially when they’re framed properly, Linder says. To draw attention to the condo’s lofty 13-foot ceilings, Linder installed crown molding with dramatic flourishes, as well as paneled molding, throughout.

Repurpose Dead Space

To make the kitchen and living room feel more spacious, Linder removed a cabinet that divided them, establishing flow with a large cased opening. But the storage space wasn’t lost: Linder replaced 8-foot cabinets across the back wall with ceiling-height ones, commandeering the extra height for more storage.

living small south end

Photographs by bob o’connor

Be Bold with Color

A thoughtful approach to color can establish a unified look in diminutive homes. Linder used a rolling gray scale—from pale gray to black—throughout the entire apartment for a cohesive feel. “A lot of people are scared of using dark colors in small spaces,” Linder says. “But it really can create such a sense of drama and warmth.”

Dress Your Corridors

Clear transition areas help create definition. Linder gave the long hallway purpose—and a splash of personality—with a large antique chest of drawers, contemporary artwork, and a set of lamps.

Make It Your Own

By mixing modern accents and furniture with antique elements, Linder was able to make the home feel like a unique space developed over time, while staying true to the Victorian aesthetic his client had envisioned. The living room’s two French bergère chairs, for example, were upholstered with snapshot-printed fabric, a nod to the homeowner’s love of photography.

Photograph by bob o'connor

Photograph by bob o’connor