City-bound empty nesters are taking their country builders with them.
Sea-Dar Construction renovated this Boston lobby to reflect modern design (new limestone flooring, oh-so-sleek white all over) while celebrating the building’s traditional architecture—even restoring the main entryway’s ornate ironwork.
As Boston’s suburban empty nesters leave the countryside for the convenience of city life, their homebuilders are following suit. Backyard pools are being traded in for rooftop hot tubs, mammoth family rooms for skyline views, and three of Boston’s finest firms—Sea-Dar Construction, Woodmeister Master Builders, and FBN Construction—are helping their clients go urban glam.
Why are empty nesters migrating? “Their primary drive is all city living offers—from walking to your favorite restaurants and entertainment venues to [the general] ease of commuting. But they don’t want to give up the comforts of suburban living—parking, landscaping. Some developments come with dog walking, grooming services, common garden spaces, and concierges.”
What are new city slickers looking for? “Seventy-five percent of the projects I am doing in Boston are of modern design. Blending historic elements with modern living has created some award-winning, elegant projects. This is preserving some of the historic elements of the existing building—ornamental plaster, a brownstone façade—while introducing new elements, new energy, efficient windows, and new modern interiors with top-of-the-line amenities.”
What are your most interesting projects? “One project in particular is a garage we’re inserting underneath two townhouses. It’s delicate!”
Woodmeister specializes in custom millwork, such as the cabinetry in this master bath.
What is the appeal of the city for your clients? “There’s a new vibe to the city—the South End, the Seaport. Between the arts, opera, gourmet food, there’s so much to offer.”
How do you troubleshoot smaller city spaces? “Through thoughtful engineering, we can design a home that is functional and maximizes space. For instance, smaller-size appliances, storing laundry baskets underneath a vanity, wall hooks.”
What’s different in urban design? “You’re dealing mostly with straight lines—not a lot of trim. Modern design has to be executed to the highest standards. For example, we’re working with two designers over at Twenty Two Liberty that are probably at the top of that pile as far as complexion, how complicated it is, the execution, the materials, the finish.”
A fab-collab between FBN Construction and Leslie Fine Interiors yielded a Mandarin Oriental unit with new ceilings and lighting.
How do you approach the transition with clients? “We’ll meet in their suburban homes and then look at the new place. That helps us get a handle on what their style is—molding details, flooring, lighting, things that remind them of their home and what they love.”
Which design trends are you noticing? “Definitely a contemporary and modern aesthetic. Clients want to live with 21st century architecture, clean lines, all-gloss white, custom cabinetry. It’s a lot of fun!”
What are some other tricks of the urban trade? “Installing wiring so that shades can be controlled by a remote. Creating storage in dead space. And always finding a way to design a funky kitchen, a lovely spa-like master bath, and a cool place to showcase art.”