It’s not often that a designer has the opportunity to go wild; rarer still when it’s the client pushing for bolder ideas. But that’s what happened when Craig and Brooke Cochran hired their longtime friend, designer Marc Houston, to reimagine their 830-square-foot garden-level condo on Beacon Hill. The Cochrans, who had been living there with their chocolate Lab and were expecting their first child, told Houston to cut loose: “The first thing they asked for,” says the designer, “was drama.” Here, he shows how he created a sophisticated home that, despite its limited square footage, feels roomy and welcoming.
Turn Up the Volume
To achieve high drama, Houston went for contrast, painting the 10-foot-high ceiling a glossy black (Benjamin Moore Universal Black) and the walls bright white (Benjamin Moore Huntington White)—an approach the designer says, “emphasizes the verticality of the space.” High-gloss finishes are especially effective in low-light conditions because they bounce light into the room, while midtone gray floors ground the space. “It could have felt cavernous,” Houston says, “but instead we were able to create a crisp but welcoming envelope.”
Houston removed some of the galley kitchen’s built-ins and devised a pantry with a sliding barn door across the hall for additional storage. He adorned the newly bare wall with hexagonal concrete tiles by Popham Design from Ann Sacks, creating what he refers to as an “indulgent, dramatic effect.”
1. Bedroom 2. Dining room 3. Sitting area 4. Living room 5. Bathroom 6. Kitchen 7. Entry hall 8. Nursery
Go for Flow
In tight quarters, passageways can get clogged with stuff. Houston provided plenty of low-profile storage in the 16-foot-long, narrow hallway off the entryway by installing a custom wall-mounted white ash sideboard with black edging from London-based H Furniture.
Stretch It Out
Houston accentuated the unit’s horizontal dimensions by specifying custom, low-slung sofas. “The repetition of long lines leads the eye to the windows and out to the patio,” he says, “visually joining the two spaces and reinforcing a sense of depth.”
To meet his clients’ budget, Houston had the existing kitchen cabinetry painted gray and black, and then swapped out the original hardware for black-leather-and-brass pulls. For wows, an integrated black walnut countertop and backsplash wraps into the living room. “The combination of materials is a modern rustic interpretation of an early New England kitchen,” Houston explains.
Fade to Dark
Houston used Benjamin Moore Cabernet on the walls and added a similarly toned rug in the tiny, 70-square-foot nursery. “Dark colors in a small space make the walls recede,” he says. Two walls in Osborne & Little wallpaper depicting Penguin literary classics jazz up the monochromatic space. “I’ve been dying to use this pattern,” Houston says of the wallpaper. “Luckily, [their daughter] Lola came along.”
Interior Design Marc Houston Lifestyle & Interiors
Millwork Hofmann Joinery
Painting Five Star Painting