This Once-Dark Union Wharf Condo Now Feels Sunny and Modern
Thanks to Ideate Design Studio, which worked its magic on the Boston space.
What do you do after you wrap up an exciting renovation project? Start another one, of course. So it was for a pair of empty nesters, who—inspired by their newly overhauled home in Florida—decided to revamp their historical Union Wharf condo. Having lived there for several years, the couple were well-versed in the unit’s downsides: The condo, set inside a former warehouse, was dark; the kitchen functioned poorly for entertaining; and the furniture, repurposed from their previous home in Winchester, was out of proportion.
So they turned to Ideate Design Studio principal Sashya Thind, who remedied the home’s litany of issues while modernizing its look. Her streamlined design complements the building’s mid-19th-century bones. Taking cues from the bricks, the wood beams, and the granite flanking the windows, for instance, Thind introduced black metal and leather. “I contrasted the industrial architecture with clean, contemporary updates,” she says. “I didn’t want to overshadow [the home’s] essence.”
Pick a Focus
Upon moving in, the clients added a brick fireplace to the living room and popped the television above it. To make the wall a more impactful focal point, Thind encased the top two-thirds of the chimney in large-format terrazzo tiles, strategically placed and installed with light-gray grout to resemble a monolithic slab. “We chose a material with movement so the joints aren’t visible,” she says. Then, she clad the bottom third, along with wall-hung cabinetry on one side, in a ribbon of blackened steel. “The terrazzo plane offers a visual break from the linearity of the beams overhead,” Thind says.
Light it Up
Lighting the dark space was the owners’ number one priority. Thind replaced unsightly track lights that protruded below the ceiling beams with canisters tucked within them. She also painted the ceiling the same color as the new black fixtures to ensure they disappear, and upgraded the light bulbs. Whereas the old ones put forth a single beam, the new bulbs provide a flood of light that washes the space evenly.
Build in a Bar
As avid hosts, the couple requested a bar with all the bells and whistles. Thind tucked a wine fridge beside a structural column at the edge of the dining room, then fashioned a rack for the couple’s favorite reds in the space above it. Next, she designed a sleek, built-in credenza that runs parallel to the minimalistic Ligne Roset dining table. The modern piece contains an ice maker, a refrigerator drawer, and a sink, plus storage for glassware and liquor. “The location of the bar keeps clutter and traffic out of the kitchen and gives them another reason to use the dining room,” Thind says.
Ease Awkward Angles
Thind took the powder room from an awkwardly angled box to an elevated design moment by reshaping the walls. “The toilet was in a chamfered corner, making it the focus,” she says. First, the team smoothed out the offending angle, then sheathed the walls in porcelain mosaic tiles with a handmade feel. A curved, cantilevered vanity featuring a textural wood-grain finish and an industrial-style mirror with rounded edges accentuate the effect.
Break Down Barriers
Although the unit boasts an open floor plan, certain areas felt closed off, particularly the kitchen. The two-tiered island, for instance, separated the wife (the primary cook) from her guests, who looked down on her from tall stools. The new, single-level island is much more inviting, her husband says. Relocating the refrigerator and eliminating upper cabinetry, meanwhile, widened the opening between the kitchen and living room and increased visibility. Finally, a new stair rail with steel-and-glass panels just beyond the range wall further enhances the condo’s airiness.
Silver Phoenix Construction
Ideate Design Studio
Tile Installer (Powder Room)