New Space, Old Place
To downsize, this Charlestown homeowner only had to move across the hall
Mary Drozda was torn about whether to stay in the condo where she and her husband had lived for 25 years before his death in 2016. They had bought the apartment—located in Flagship Wharf in the Charlestown section of Boston with views of the harbor and former Navy Yard—in 1991. Later they purchased a smaller unit next to it with the intention of combining the two. Instead, they rented out the second apartment at first and then used it as a home office for themselves. After her husband died, Drozda considered downsizing and moving next door. When she was ready, she did just that. “It wasn’t like I was moving away from my home in Flagship,” she says about her decision. “I just moved across the hall.”
But first she set her sights on renovating the smaller space while she continued to live in the larger unit, which she planned to sell when the project was complete.
She wasn’t sure how to go about hiring a designer, but a business card and brochure for interior designer Michael Ferzoco of Eleven Interiors in Boston sparked her interest. She found them in the gift bag she received for attending the Friends of the Mass General Cancer Center Spring Luncheon, an annual event that Ferzoco supports as a sponsor. One meeting between Drozda and Ferzoco sealed the deal.
“Everything just flowed so naturally,” says Drozda of their collaboration. “It wasn’t difficult at all once he started making suggestions and I decided on what I wanted.”
They discussed how to turn the two-bedroom, 1,350-square-foot condo into a comfortable home and came up with three “must-haves.” First, Drozda wanted natural light to come into the kitchen from the living/dining area’s windows, which have the best view of the water and Boston skyline beyond. She also wanted the unit’s square footage to work better for her by turning the guest bedroom into a study that connects with the living spaces. Her final wish was for a laundry area that was more convenient than the current setup in a corner of the guest bathroom.
Executing these changes with expert attention to materials and colors, Ferzoco created a home that is cohesive, comfortable, and uniquely Drozda. “From top to bottom, left to right, everything was redone here,” says Ferzoco, who worked with NS Builders of Avon, Massachusetts, on the project.
They opened the kitchen to the living spaces by removing 5½ feet of the wall above the countertops. Now Drozda can stand in the kitchen and see out windows in the living area, talk to guests on the sofa, or watch television while she’s cooking. The white walls keep the decor calm and the focus on the view. A custom cabinet hides the TV when it’s not in use. Ferzoco designed a flexible seating plan with a sofa against the wall and chairs that swivel. A sculptural wood veneer pendant light makes a statement above the dining table, a piece Drozda had and updated by painting its legs.
The doorway to the guest-bedroom-turned-study was widened and fitted with barn-style sliding doors, making it feel more connected to the rest of the apartment. “The room can still be used as sleeping space with an air mattress if she has guests stay over,” says Ferzoco, “but it feels more of an extension of the living space, and she uses it much more than if it were just a guest bedroom.” For the laundry, Ferzoco took some space from the guest bathroom to carve out a closet in the entry hall that accommodates the washer and dryer and adds plenty of new storage.
Against the white backdrop, Ferzoco makes clever use of materials and color in just the right spots. “Mary loves color, and we love that she loves color,” says Ferzoco. “It meant that we were designing a space that felt active and lively, which is fitting because there’s a very active and usable waterfront outside.” In an important but “subtle nod to what is going on in the harbor,” Ferzoco added accessories that hint of a maritime connection, such as a copper side table, ribbonlike sconces made of bronze, and a jute ottoman. In the kitchen, green glass subway tiles brighten the backsplash, while textured cabinets in a gray wash finish from Boston Hardwood and Kitchen are meant to resemble driftwood.
The guest bathroom has a vibrant blue vanity. In the master bathroom, a vanity the color of eggplant so captured Drozda’s imagination that she wanted to paint the walls in her bedroom in the same aubergine hue. “I just was stuck on eggplant,” she says. Ferzoco suggested painting the king-size sleigh bed that Drozda had for years instead. She is decidedly happy with the result—as she is with everything else in her light, bright, colorful condo.
Looking for more modern condo inspiration? Tour this downtown Portsmouth open concept condo.