Boston Spirit "Comforts of Home"

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Comforts of Home

Fresh looks

from leading local LGBTQA+ design professionals

We asked design professionals at six top Boston-area firms what they love, what their clients want and what they’ll never, ever do.

All agree: People are craving comfort.

Organic shapes, textural finishes and moody hues are replacing crisp lines, polished surfaces and cool colors. This particular iteration of comfort is refined, tactile and atmospheric. Not overly casual or haphazard, nor rigidly defined.

Homeowners are interested in rooms that nourish their souls and sustain the way they live. They want interiors that offer a warm embrace. Rooms where they can work, lounge and gather. Homes need to be functional, but they also must be distinct.

In Boston and all around New England, that’s easy to come by.

Explore our interviews with top talent to learn where they’re finding inspiration, and how they’re translating these ideas into uniquely personal, reach-out-and-touch-me designs.

SEASONAL Home & Design Story Marni Elyse Katz
[CONTINUES 50] | BOSTON SPIRIT 48

Hanwen ‘Evan’ Bai

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Asian inspired modern; warm minimal; close to the earth.

What colors are you loving?

Soft white and earth tones for the base with sage or olive as an accent color, and a splash of black to anchor it. I think there’s been a lean toward earthy tones for sure. Green was a color of the year from the paint companies for

2022, but for next year they’re projecting rosier, brighter colors. I really like the earthy greens. We’re not chasing the trends, but I’m sure I’m being influenced by them. There’s no way I’m immune to it; it’s subliminal.

What materials are you currently drawn to?

Definitely natural materials. For furniture, lots of wood. I’m starting to gravitate towards darker woods like walnut. I’m

interested in travertine with a matte finish. Terrazzo is everywhere, but I don’t love it. For fabrics, linen, wool, and light-colored leather with a modern luxurious feel. And green plants; it’s always nice to have nature in the home.

What’s piquing your interest in design right now?

Marrying Western and Eastern design, like how Japandi [Japanese + Scandinavian] designs combine wabi sabi and hygge philosophies in a modern way. I’m excited about blurring the boundaries of different aesthetics.

PHOTO Jared Kuzia

What’s a look you’re dying to do?

I’m dying to do a full blown wabi sabi look with earthy tones, a highly curated materials palette, and clean furniture lines. I want to create rooms that elicit a giant exhale.

What will we never catch you incorporating into a room?

Subway tiles. There’s nothing wrong with them, there are just so many more options out there with personality. I cannot imagine going with such a vanilla look. It’s a squandered opportunity.

What are clients asking for lately?

Moodier spaces instead of bright and airy ones, and more masculine, sophisticated living spaces.

What do you do if a client insists on incorporating a trendy look that you think won’t stand the test of time?

I ask them what about the look that resonates so I can dissect it. Is it the overall feeling it evokes, or the material, or the color? I unpack it a bit. I combine that with the practical functionality they need, then propose timeless options. I pull apart those threads and weave them back together in a different way. My clients have been pretty open minded.

Who are your design idols?

NORM Architects in Denmark. The studio takes a modernist approach that combines a Western and Eastern aesthetic. I love everything they do, from architecture to interiors to furniture design.

Hanwen Interiors donates 10 % of their profits to local nonprofit organizations supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

YES OR NO? ZELLIGE TILE? Y N Yes, it’s a more interesting alternative to subway tile. PICK ONE OAK WALNUT Both! PICK ONE BRASS NICKEL BLACK CHROME Matte black! JAN FEB 2023 | 51

Pauline Curtiss

What’s piquing your interest?

Owner,

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Classical with a modern twist. I like enlarging patterns to a grand scale, then paring them down, and using unexpected colorways. It keeps people looking.

What colors and color combinations are you loving?

Deep, rich colors with a loud, wild color layered in. In my five-year old’s bedroom, I applied a dark teal Venetian

plaster ceiling with hot pink flowers.

What materials are you currently drawn to?

For custom artwork I’m using a lot of spray paint, poured resin and layers of found metal, glitter and beads. I love metallics, so things shift as you move. Far away, you might see a landscape, but when you zoom in, you see the materials themselves.

Things that are wild, fierce and unique. I’m obsessed with deconstructed patterns and when a pattern disintegrates and fades away.

What motifs have been becoming more popular?

Maximalist designs with pattern on pattern, graffiti and more hand-painted things.

What is inspiring you?

Large-scale patterns that relate to the scale of the body. When art relates to a human scale, it’s easier to get lost in it and it elicits more emotion. I’m also drawn to reflective designs that you can see

PHOTO Adam Detour

YES OR NO?

PICK ONE

MAXIMALIST MINIMALIST

Maximalist all the way. I love pattern on pattern on pattern.

PICK ONE ENGLISH COUNTRY WABI SABI

Wabi sabi 100%. I adore the personality and imperfections in the handmade. Machine made things don’t have the soul that comes from the human touch.

yourself in, like you’re superimposed inside the art.

What will we never catch you incorporating into a room?

I’ll never do 12-inch patterns because they’re everywhere. I do them at 22-inches instead. I won’t copy someone else’s work, and I try never to do the same thing twice. I’m most interested in creating something new. Art is about invention.

What are clients asking for lately?

I’m doing tons of checkerboard floors. I’m doing more hallways than ever. One client wants an ombré pattern down every hall, starting dark and moving to light. We’re also doing a hallway with a deconstructed plaid floor

with colors that coordinate with each adjacent room. People want their hallways to be unique hearts of the home, not just blank spaces between rooms.

Do you notice clients approaching design differently than they did a few years ago?

Absolutely. People are more fearless. There’s more trust for adventure.

What do you do if a client insists on incorporating a trendy look that you think won’t stand the test of time?

I try to give them a better option. If they insist, I do it. It’s their house, they should have what they love! It’s my job to give my clients the best rendition of what they want.

JAN FEB 2023 | 55

Trevor Fulmer

Creative director, Trevor Fulmer Design trevorfulmerdesign.com

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Approachable modern; livable luxury; playful with intention. I like to create designs that welcome you with unexpected moments.

What colors you loving?

I’m working on a project in subdued jewel tones: emerald, cerulean, deep yellow, royal purple. Blushes and soft pinks are on point right now too.

There’s also a postmodern movement, but I’m not crazy about those neon greens and electric blues, they’re too intense; I’m staying softer.

What materials are you currently drawn to?

I’m loving bold, veiny marbles and quartzites. I just did a bar with a three-layered, green marble countertop with a bullnose profile. For another client, I did a custom table with a dramatic top of

cerulean quartzite with rich veining that’s almost a walnut color. We did a walnut slatted wood wall with it. It’s going to be beautiful.

What else is piquing your interest?

I’m obsessed with the neotenic trend. Bulbous furniture with big, heavy bases and tiny legs have a cartoonlike feel that makes me feel connected to it.

PHOTOS Cole Quinn, Jared Kuzia and Trevor Fulmer

What looks are you noticing coming out of other cities or internationally?

Sculptural furniture. There’s nothing square or hard-edged, or even oval; it’s all amoebashaped. Lots of hand-crafted things too.

What’s inspiring you?

I always look to artists, especially sculptors because they help me envision larger forms. I recently saw a sculptor on Instagram, Cassey McCafferty, and I thought, “I want you to build me an entire island.” His wooden pieces remind me of Easter Island sculptures. I also love totems.

What will we never catch you incorporating into a room?

Clutter and excess. I like breathing room. These days we need less and less. You don’t need even need a ton of artwork; you can digitally project it. There are all these interesting ways of minimizing.

What are clients asking for lately?

Monochromatic spaces. Choosing one color and using every tone or shade possible. A lot of clients ask for petfriendly features. We’re doing a combo bookshelf-desk with a dog crate built in.

What do you do if a client insists on incorporating a trendy look that you think won’t stand the test of time?

You have to get to the root of what they like in order to come up with a creative solution that makes the trend not trendy. It’s about asking the right questions.

Who are your design idols?

I always go back to David Hicks—his aesthetic, scale and proportion. And, I don’t want to sound basic, but Kelly Wearstler is incredible.

YES OR NO? STATEMENT MARBLE? Y N Hell, yes! PICK ONE DARK KITCHEN WHITE KITCHEN WOOD KITCHEN I’m so over white kitchens, let’s go dark. PICK ONE VELVET BOUCLÉ I’m still on the bouclé train. JAN FEB 2023 | 57

Alina Wolhardt

What’s piquing your interest?

Principal,

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Warm, modern, eclectic.

What colors and color combinations are you loving?

I’m loving oak and black, and I think you can never go wrong with black on black. I also love exploring color, though I tend to use color as accents rather than as a dominant feature. People are moving away from grays to warmer neutrals,

which I’m happy about; they were overdone.

What materials are you currently drawn to?

I’m still loving using wood. A neutral finish brings warmth and is classic. I love shou sugi ban, the black charred wood, too. We’re using a lot of plaster. If I could do a whole house in Venetian plaster, I would. Portola Paints’ Roman Clay is a less expensive option.

Finding ways to reinterpret historical designs. I’m working on a 1970s-inspired rumpus room for a client who grew up with a 1950s-style diner in his basement. We’re using a lot of ’70s language, but in a new way: wood paneled walls, a dance floor with inset vintage album covers, a disco ball and terrazzo countertops. Terrazzo was huge in the ’70s, but not for countertops; they used Formica.

What looks are you noticing coming out of other cities or internationally?

People in the design world are paying more attention to sustainability. I’ve definitely

PHOTO Cody O’Loughlin

been sourcing more vintage to bring that extra layer of warmth and eclecticness to a design.

What is inspiring you?

These past few years have been a blur, between the pandemic and politics. I’m ready to open my eyes to new things. I’m excited for what’s to come.

What’s a look you’re dying to do? I’m finally doing a fluted, curved kitchen!

What will we never catch you incorporating into a room? Bad lighting is a pet peeve. I try not to do a color temp cooler than 2700K

[degrees kelvin] and I don’t like an over-lit space. I avoid recessed lights when possible.

What are clients asking for lately?

My clients asking for those moodier rooms. I use a lot of dark colors in my designs, so clients who like that look tend to reach out.

Do you notice clients approaching things differently than they did a few years ago?

I’ve recently had a few clients say things like, “We want to enjoy the space and not think about resale. We only live once, let’s design for us.”

What do you do if a client insists on incorporating a trendy look that you think won’t stand the test of time?

Clients are wanting to drive the design process more. Part of my job is to educate them. We’re not just here for vendor access; we have years of experience in what works. If you have a good relationship, they listen to your advice. There are times I’ve surrendered. I should have followed my instincts! Following our design process results for happy clients in the end.

PHOTO Jared Kuzia
PICK ONE VINTAGE ORIENTAL RUGS CONTEMPORARY PICK ONE STRAIGHT LINES CURVES PICK ONE OPEN FLOOR PLAN INDIVIDUAL ROOMS It depends on the space.
PHOTO Read McKendree
JAN FEB 2023 | 61
PHOTO Michael J Lee

David Hacin, AIA, & Matthew Woodward

Founding principal and creative director (Hacin) & senior interior designer and associate (Woodward), Hacin + Associates, Boston hacin.com

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

[HACIN] Rooted in the context of time, place and client. One of the biggest compliments we’ve received is that even projects we’ve done a long time ago feel fresh and inviting.

What colors are you loving?

[WOODWARD] We pull from historical palettes. A historical

ruby; not a hit-you-over-thehead red.

[HACIN] The best colors look different in different light and change during the course of the day. Historical colors with complex pigments do that in the way that bold colors do not.

What materials are you currently drawn to?

[WOODWARD] Honed marbles and flamed finishes instead of polished ones, and metals with patination. We’re contemporists at heart, but like spaces with materials that feel raw.

What’s piquing your interest in design right now?

[WOODWARD] We enjoy working with emerging artisans. Using pieces from people who have devoted their life to a single craft makes you feel a little like Robin Hood. Contrasting them against contemporary ones is where the magic happens.

PHOTOS Bob O’Connor, Michael Stavaridis and Trent Bell

The architect in me says straight; our interior designers introduce curves. PICK ONE

Dusty rose. it’s a great drag name.

Did any particular styles catch your eye at design fairs this past year?

[WOODWARD] Italian vendors are using organic lines for the first time, along with rusticated stones and heavily grained millwork. Poliform had furniture with beautiful brushed textures and matte finishes.

[HACIN] It was encouraging to see major manufacturers embrace sustainability. Europe is ahead of us on developing sustainable products. It’s not viewed as a hurdle anymore, it’s part of the process.

What’s inspiring you?

[HACIN] Juxtaposing historical spaces with furniture that reflects the latest in contemporary thinking. Northern European, Dutch and Belgian designers know how to

bridge spare interiors with rich historic settings. You can find those opportunities in a city like Boston; we look for them.

What will we never catch you incorporating into a room?

[HACIN] Knockoffs. We mix in pieces from local makers to create authentic spaces that are personal to our clients. We avoid anonymous globalism and the commodification of interior design. It’s not interesting and it’s flat out lazy.

Are clients approaching their wants and needs differently than they did a few years ago?

[WOODWARD] Clients are focusing on the experience of the space, not just its visual impact. They talk about how they want a

space to feel, not just how they want it to look.

[HACIN] Some of the study spaces we’re designing are really small and really cozy. I don’t remember doing those spaces even just a few years ago.

What do you do if a client insists on incorporating a trendy look that you think won’t stand the test of time?

[WOODWARD] We ask, “Will you love it five years from now?” If the answer is, “I don’t know,” we might add gray to dull it, so it’s not so intense.

Who are your design idols?

[WOODWARD] Roman and Williams, Ashe Leandro, Jesse Paris Lamb. We like to think we share their soulful minimalism grounded with historical context.

YES OR NO?
BACKSPLASHES? Y N
MIRRORED
Yes in a bar, no in a kitchen. PICK ONE STRAIGHT LINES CURVES
EGGPLANT DUSTY ROSE
JAN FEB 2023 | 63

Ryan Stanton and Jessica Schwartz

Cofounders & principals, Stanton Schwartz Design stantonschwartz.com

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

[SCHWARTZ] We don’t have a formula for a certain aesthetic except to give our clients the most beautiful version of what they’re looking for.

What colors are you loving?

[SCHWARTZ] We love the sage greens, rusts and mustards;

those warm, autumn shades that are so comforting. However, we’re still doing and loving whites, silvers and icy blues with hits of black. However, those palettes should not be mixed!

[STANTON] I refuse to get behind navy blue, though it inevitably ends up on our paint schedule.

What materials are you currently drawn to?

[SCHWARTZ] We’ve always loved crazy, bold marbles. Honed, leathered, I will take them any way I can get them.

[STANTON] I think quartz became so popular because it was less expensive. They’re closer in price now.

[SCHWARTZ] We also love live finishes. Materials like unlacquered brass that show wear and tear are beautiful.

What’s piquing your interest?

[SCHWARTZ] Checkerboard patterns in tile. We’re doing a boy’s bath in white and, sorry Ryan, navy checked tiles. The primary bath has

PHOTO Jared Kuzia

PICK ONE OPEN FLOOR PLAN INDIVIDUAL ROOMS

You can have a beautiful balance of both.

PICK ONE GREEN NAVY

One hundred percent green.

PICK ONE SYMMETRY ASYMMETRY

[Jess] I probably tend towards symmetry, but I wish I didn’t. Changing that will be my New Year’s resolution.

navy zellige wall tile and black tile on the floor.

What looks are you noticing coming out of other cities or internationally?

[SCHWARTZ] The honesty of the materials used in L.A: concrete, plaster, natural oak, reclaimed wood, zellige tile.

Did any particular pieces or styles catch your eye at design fairs this past year?

[STANTON] There’s a Rosie Li light fixture with a polished rainbow metal finish that’s a little masterpiece. We just installed one in a Beacon Hill library.

What’s inspiring you?

[STANTON] The pandemic forced designers to use vintage pieces

in new and inventive ways because they were the easiest furnishings to access. This is an incredibly wasteful industry, so it’s step in the right direction.

[SCHWARTZ] You need vintage pieces to add soul.

What will we never catch you incorporating into a room?

[STANTON] Ikats and trellis patterns are not our jam. What are clients asking for lately?

[SCHWARTZ] As a result of lockdown, once formal spaces are being used by the whole family. We’re still asked to design like that. Lots of performance fabrics and things you don’t have to dance around.

What do you do if a client insists on incorporating a trendy look that you think won’t stand the test of time?

[SCHWARTZ] You give it to them in small doses with things that are easy to replace, like a pillow or a small accent chair.

[STANTON] Clients don’t see as much new design as we do, so chances are they’ll still like the item in question years from now. It’s okay to give them some of what they want, even if it’s trendy.

Who are your design idols?

[STANTON] Steven Gambrel is a mastermind. Heidi Callier.

[SCHWARTZ] And Brian Paquette’s laidback West Coast style.

JAN FEB 2023 | 67
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