New England Home, March 2021

New England Home, March 2021

Interior designer Kristen Rivoli custom designed an ottoman to feature a clever pull-out drink tray. The ottoman is covered in Spinneybeck chartreuse leather to echo the Benjamin Moore Gibson Gold Walls.

In With the Old

A nineteenth-century, antiques-filled home in Boston’s Back Bay belies the age of its latest stewards.

By Erika Ayn Finch

If you walked into the two-and-a-half-story home in Boston’s Back Bay, you’d most likely never guess that the collection of antiques and original artwork, the sumptuous fabrics and bejeweled lighting fixtures, belong to a young family. We’re talking two-toddlers young — the wife gave birth during the installation process. Interior designer Kristen Rivoli says more and more of her clients are expressing appreciation for antiques and “brown furniture,” regardless of their age and family status.

The fact that the couple loves to read, prompted Rivoli to reimagine a portion of the large living room as an intimate reading space.

“Vintage Adds Character and makes a space feel more like a Home rather than a showroom.”

- Interior Designer Kristen Rivoli

“If they don’t already have it, a lot of times, I’m showing it to them,” she says. “Vintage adds character and personality, and makes a space feel more like a home rather than a showroom. Clients gravitate toward quirky pieces that remind them of the home they grew up in.”

In this instance, Rivoli’s clients didn’t require an introduction to vintage. They brought their collection with them. (Redacted) “Antiques weren’t treated as precious in this house — they were just furniture,” Rivoli explains. (Redacted)

A pair of back-to-back custom sofas covered in Pindler and Perennials upholstery and separated by a walnut table delineates the formal living room from the library.

Payne | Bouchier Fine Builders opened up the kitchen to the stairway and designed a center island that involved some tricky plumbing. Nearby, Rivoli reimagined the formal dining area as a cozy family room cocooned in Phillip Jeffries grasscloth, while the wall adjacent to the fireplace provided the perfect spot for an antique Welsh teacup cupboard.

The antiques are balanced with modern — and occasionally practical — touches, like Benjamin Moore Gibson Gold walls, back-to-back sofas separated by a custom console, Visual Comfort lighting, and a mini mudroom tucked underneath the stairway. The team at Payne | Bouchier Fine Builders opened the kitchen to the stairway by removing a wall. When it came to replacing the molding in the previously squared-off spot, Payne | Bouchier painstakingly replicated the home’s original molding but customized it to mimic the staircase radius.

Rivoli says, in 2021, homeowners of all ages crave comfort and appreciate repurposing and reusing furnishings. They are also attracted to the craftsmanship of older pieces. Is it safe to call this trending style “grand millennial?”

“Call it what you want,” laughs Rivoli, “but if homeowners are embracing antiques and vintage items, I’m into it.” ♦

In a once-awkward space under the stairs, a mini mudroom keeps the family of four organized. Upstairs, the homeowners’ antique desk and cane-back chairs (reupholstered in de Le Cuona fabric) steal the show in the office.