Interior design/lighting designCochineal Design
Text description provided by the architects. Galleries felt like a natural inspiration because they are essentially windowless spaces (necessary for art preservation) that need to be well-lit; therefore, special design attention is given to creating light and air. Once we began to study art galleries, we found ourselves making other gallery-inspired decisions as well. For instance, largely inspired by the display of Alex Katz’s works, we chose large-scale simple art, rather than smaller or busier pieces that might add visual clutter or fuss. Two architectural chairs from the 1960s were sourced from a gallery in Hungary.
In order to maximize light and air, the architect located the staircase at the center of the building, which lets natural light from both ends of the house into all habitable rooms. The stairs are sectioned off with the building’s only interior shear walls, therefore the stairwell itself obstructs natural light. We did not want the stairs to feel tight and tunnel-like, so we designed windows between the studs and pipes. These windows connect the stairwell to the naturally lit corridor, so the staircase feels airier. The staircase windows also house custom light fixtures that light the stairs when necessary.
In a 12’ wide space, every inch counts. Therefore it was decided nothing would be proud of the wall. Base moulding, door trims, backsplashes, outlet receptacles, etc are all flush. A ¼” reveal made with a reglet runs throughout the house, defining trim details, window casings, room thresholds, etc. The concept of the narrow reveal speaks directly to the narrowness of the house.
The house has 10’ ceilings, so we designed custom 98” high pocket doors that draw the eye up and also allow pieces to be moved in and out of spaces more easily. When the pocket doors are open, the house feels like one long open gallery space. When they are closed for privacy, the custom oil rubbed bronze hardware adds simple, sophisticated decoration.
We wanted the space to feel like fine design, however traditional luxury materials like marble felt too busy--the space had to be simple and well-edited, yet rich at the same time.
Therefore we kept the material palette to a minimum: wood, concrete and bronze with contrasting black and bright white backdrops. Ash wood--a light-hued hardwood--runs throughout (floors, stairs, kitchen, cabinetry other). All countertops and backsplashes are a light-grey concrete, which is a reference to the seaport’s cobblestone streets. Two of the bathrooms feature custom encaustic concrete tile as well. All hardware, light switches and plumbing fixtures are custom oil rubbed bronze, which is a reference to the dark zinc facade of the building. In all, these decisions feel elegant, sophisticated and intentional.
Text by: Designer Sarah Mendel, Principal, of Cochineal Design.