Boston House Tour: Dee's First Apartment - A Study in Details

Boston House Tour: Dee's First Apartment - A Study in Details

Maxwell Ryan
Apr 11, 2008

This is from our Boston finalist, Alyssa. Comment away!

Name: Dee
Location: Harvard Square, MA
Size: 549 sf
Years Lived: 1.5 years
Own/Rent: Own


Few things are more disheartening than a cold, drizzly morning in early April in Boston - the sun hasn't shone much in the past few weeks. Yet a weight was lifted when I entered Dee's tiny, spotless, cheerful apartment, situated in the fabled Cambridge neighborhood of John Malkovich, Yo-Yo Ma, and countless Harvard University professors. I was instantly drawn to the bright walls and colorful touches sprinkled throughout Dee's home, especially the purple and yellow story in the bathroom...

Dee's apartment is a study in contrasting colors, clutter-free living, and a mix of clean lines and ornate embellishments. Dee, thrilled to give a tour of her recently purchased apartment, explained: "I spent a while with a rather empty space. When I moved in all I had was my bed and my desk. I acquired furniture one piece at a time. It is important that I take the time to find what I'm looking for. It's all about feeling - if it doesn't "feel good" in my space, I don't keep it." Because her apartment needed little renovation other than new paint on the walls when she moved in, Dee could concentrate on filling her new home with personal treasures and new finds.


Much of Dee's inspiration comes from her travels to Ireland, Turkey, Russia, and China, which are all reflected in keepsakes purchased abroad and carefully framed photographs taken in each country. Her photos, both black and white and in color, reflect a love of texture and an ability to capture the melancholy of daily life. They range from a Chinese woman selling fruit on a blanket by the side of the road to piles of motley rugs for sale in a Turkish market. According to Dee, "Travel is my greatest inspiration. I'm always provoked by my surroundings and I like to pick out things (colors, textures, a mood) from each new place I go and try to incorporate it in my decorating." Such confidence that comes from travel is evident in Dee's home, where she is willing to take risks in choosing colors or buying an expensive but unusual piece.


Nearly every furnishing in Dee's apartment has personal value that connects her to family and friends. For her housewarming party, her friends painted a blank canvas with personal messages and images to help break in her new home. This painting now hangs in her entryway, linking her new home with fond memories of friends. She has a lovely framed photograph of her dapper and handsome grandfather, taken from his portfolio, framed on her wall. (He had a career as a model during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.) These pieces add warmth to Dee's home.


Decorating for Dee is an ongoing process. Now that she is established in her new home, she's thinking of painting again, removing the white moldings around the door and window frames, and opening up the passage between her kitchen and living room. In Dee's words: "Change is good. I'm still figuring out my style. I'm always trying out something new, whether it's furniture, clothes, or music."

AT Survey

Style: A mix of simple, modern, and Rococo.

Inspiration: Travel to the East.

Favorite Element: Bathroom sink.

Biggest Challenge:
One closet - every piece of furniture must have a dual purpose. Nothing is purely for aesthetics.

Biggest Indulgence: Large mirror with wooden frame for the bedroom.

Biggest Embarrassment: An old stereo from high school, especially since I'm in the music profession.

Best Advice Given or Received: If you don't like it, don't buy it, display it, or use it. It's better to live with little to nothing than with things you don't like.

What Friends Say: They like to hang out here: It's cool and cozy.

Just Purchased: Red mirror in the bedroom.

Dream Source: A trip to Europe to study everything from the effortless, efficient chic of their legendary small apartments to the ornate moldings of their eighteenth century furniture.



Pinched from a cleaning out of Dee's grandmother's house.

Furniture: Most of Dee's furniture was passed down from friends and family members such as her leather couch with brass brads - so the pieces have a more intimate feel.

Photos: All taken by Dee during her world travels. Some highlights include a sneaky and daring photo taken at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow (no photos of the interior is allowed) and a wonderful scene of an Irish hillside on a misty morning.

Artwork: Each piece has a personal story behind it, like the Egyptian tapestry brought back from Dee's great grandmother's travels.

For the basics:
CB2, Anthropologie, Ikea, and Crate and Barrel.

- Alyssa

(Thanks, Alyssa!)

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