Real estate is widely regarded as one of the best investment opportunities, and this property was no different. A one-bedroom condo in Watertown, with a stunning direct view of the Charles River was purchased decades ago by a Medical Post Graduate. Despite moving away from the Boston area, they still held onto the property, perhaps with the foresight that it would one day become a perfect landing spot for their family. Now with two adult children studying in the Greater Boston area, this condo has become the focal point of family time – gathering in their home-away-from-home. But before this space could become an epicenter of their family life, it needed a major renovation to accommodate their needs and lifestyle.
While there were some inherent elements in the building that had to be worked around, including its concrete slab construction and the less-than-ideal placement of building-wide systems in the kitchen, the homeowners were open to some creative solutions and workarounds.
From the entrance, the original layout felt clunky – there were several closets in the entry hall including one just inside the doorway, but nowhere to set down keys or bags. We eliminated the closet by the door, replacing it with an inviting key-drop alcove, and captivating wallpaper, and opened the sight lines into the living room and kitchen.
In the kitchen, we removed a wall that had nearly closed the space off entirely, and extended into a dining area and living room, drawing out the incredible view of the Charles River beyond. Now, family and friends can walk freely throughout, making full use of the space. Removing the kitchen wall came with some challenges, however, as a central system for the entire building ran through the middle of it and could not be moved. Our team got creative here as well, extending the countertop into a peninsula and encasing that unavoidable system into the kitchen’s beautiful new cabinetry.
The original kitchen layout was comprised of a corner sink, a small stove up against the wall, and a refrigerator all tucked into a small, dark, truncated interior section of the unit. With the wall removed and the building’s systems hidden inside of the custom cabinetry, we had an opportunity to move the sink out of its tiny corner and build a sleek Wolf induction range into the quartz countertop.
The wood cabinetry in the kitchen was not the first-round consideration – initially, our clients wanted white cabinets to brighten the space, but when a sample of this wood was presented, it immediately became the clear favorite for its rich, warm color and appealing grain. Luxe hardware by Top Knobs in a Honey Bronze finish and a Kohler faucet in Vibrant Stainless complement the warmth of the cabinetry. A substantial white quartz countertop and backsplash, extended up to the ceiling behind the sink and shelving, offsets the darker tone of the wood and provides a light and airy touch.
Moving into the dining and living space, unique features include a wine refrigerator tucked into the back of the peninsula’s cabinetry, and additional storage accessible from the dining area. For the flooring, we happily replaced the outdated wall-to-wall carpenting with a sophisticated wide-plank wood floor. This flooring was intentionally selected because its specific design and construction process holds up very well to the fluctuating New England weather.
To brighten and modernize the space, we installed recessed lighting which required modifying the ceiling height to accommodate these fixtures, as the building’s construction pre-dated their use. In the living room, we had a built-in, building-specified air conditioning unit to contend with in consideration of the design. While it couldn’t be eliminated and it proved difficult to upgrade, custom window treatments were installed to hide it out of sight when not in use, avoiding any sacrifice of the amazing view out the slider windows.