The Watt O’Keefe studio has been at the forefront of smart renovation.
For a software company executive with three children, the search for a new home meant not only finding a retreat from his own non-stop working life, but also securing a comfortable space for his whole family. âI wanted a very fluid and open design, with common spaces that invite people to come together,â he says. On the other hand, privacy was essential: âMy three children are all at an age where they appreciate their personal space, so it was also important that they could each have their own bedroom,â he adds.
After about six months of property research, he found a few promising options on the top floors of a Beacon Hill condo building. But before making an offer, he reached out to Studio Watt O’Keefe, a Cambridge-based architecture / interior firm he had previously partnered with in the former Copley Square office. He wanted to know: was it possible to merge three separate units to build the house he envisioned for his family? For directors Belinda Watt and Michael O’Keefe, who visited the partially full spaces and helped him strategize, the answer was a resounding âyesâ.
And so, with the advice of his trusted associates, the executive bought a three-bedroom unit on one floor and also parts of two penthouses upstairs. Watt and O’Keefe, of course, were hired to help unify and reinvent the units, which together measure 3,600 square feet. “By taking the two penthouse options and combining them, [we were able to] create a much more private space [that] gave him the four bedrooms he needed, âsays Watt.
As to the other structural flaw the group needed to address, the issue was familiar to all concerned. Much like the old 19,000-square-foot Back Bay, Watt and O’Keefe office, renovated for the owner’s business in 2011, the units’ existing floor plans allowed for little natural light. âWe had to open up the interior and get in as much light as possible,â says O’Keefe. On the lower level, for example, this meant eliminating a centrally located bathroom and replacing it with a wet bar. Open to the living room and kitchen on one side and to a welcoming multimedia room on the other, the new room allows light to circulate freely throughout the space.
Regarding the dressing of the reconfigured mansion, the architects took inspiration from the design aesthetic proclaimed by the owner (“modern with clean lines, yet comfortable and inviting”) and worked to combine an architecture pared down to calming hues, natural materials and organic prints. Showcase the home’s white oak floors, custom walnut downlights, and eye-catching yet understated furnishings. “It was [meant] to be a refuge from his office life. So that prompted us to create a quiet, subdued space with a sober palette, âsays O’Keefe.
Yet there were plenty of opportunities to have fun as well: the owner’s taste for graphic wall coverings also influenced the design, especially in each of the bedrooms in the house, where the carpeted accent walls act as works of art. large-scale art. In the master bedroom, for example, an array of cascading leaves on an azure wall covering by Trove serves as the backdrop for a Ligne Roset bed. âWe had always known we wanted the back wall to be dramatic, so early on we discussed how it should be a really dark blue,â says Watt.
While the print is undoubtedly a centerpiece, it is certainly not the only breathtaking aspect of the second level of the house. Just step out onto the 1300 square foot patio from the master bedroom or adjoining family room, and it’s easy to see why the owner wanted to get his hands on the entire western part of the roof, which was previously forked with 7- lattice of feet in height. “[Itâs an] outdoor lounge, âsays O’Keefe. “It’s very private, but you also have this great city that opens up in front of
In collaboration with landscape architect Kaki Martin, of the Klopfer Martin design group, the team divided the al fresco space into two zones: an outdoor kitchen, a dining room and a living room centered around a fireplace just outside. outside the family room and a more intimate spa. area with plush chairs and a copper hot tub beyond the bedroom. “[The owner] I loved the idea of ââcopper, âsays Watt. O’Keefe agrees. âIt’s a big contrast to the ipe wood deck and the dark gray perimeter walls,â he says. Lush landscaping, including lavender shrubs and a variety of grasses, adds to the visual appeal.
Of course, while the finished outdoor space looks perfectly arranged – much like the rest of the ‘stylish but livable’ dwelling, as the owner puts it – it’s certainly child friendly enough, too. Overall, the family love their new digs. “The [kids] install soccer nets [on the terrace] and they love to use the spa, âsays Watt. “It’s nice to see them take over the space.”
Architect / Interior designer
Watt O’Keefe Studio
Cafco construction management; Sea-Dar construction
Klopfer Martin design group