Abstract art, midcentury furniture and antiques live in bliss at a special South End town house.
In the front parlor, two paintings by Fritz Bultman hang to the right of a larger work by the same artist, while Peter Busa’s “Beauty and the Beast” hangs on its right.
Modern does not have to mean skimping on color, texture or detail. So say architects Pam Butz and Jeffrey Klug, principals of Boston-based Butz + Klug Architecture, who renovated a mid-19th century brick town house in the South End for an art connoisseur with an eclectic collection of art and furnishings, with absolutely expressive results. “The language was modern, but materiality was important,” says Klug. “The homeowner is not a white-and-chrome minimalist; he likes richness.” To achieve a fresh and warm vibe, the architects layered contemporary details into the home’s original geometry, mostly preserving the layout, then updated the finishes. Mahogany was used for new windows as well as lining the openings between rooms, which were widened to improve flow. Crisp white oak added pop to flooring accented with a touch of white (a great contrast to the mahogany). Finally, flat panel gray-painted wood cabinetry was punctuated with wood-lined niches. Inspired by the pieces of French architect Jean Prouvé, Klug designed a fumed white oak dining table, built by New Hampshire-based woodworker Phil Morse, for the formal dining room. A circa 1900 Persian rug provides a rich ground for the homeowner’s Edward Wormley chairs. The spare form of the brass suspension lamp by Lambert & Fils is the perfect foil to the homeowner’s Biedermeier china cabinet and sideboard. The airy, multifunctional kitchen is in the back, through a butler’s pantry. It’s where the homeowner cooks, dines and does the laundry. A newly built laundry chute runs down from the master bedroom, and there’s a dumbwaiter to transport clean clothing back up, all masked behind new cabinetry. A walnut island with a Pietra Cardosa waterfall countertop feels like furniture, and a wide white oak niche boasts floating shelves and provides a spot for a TV. “So much is done in kitchens these days,” Klug says. “The struggle is to keep it simple while accommodating the complexities of modern life.”
In the front parlor—a painting by abstract expressionist Fred Bultman, who, like many of the painters in the homeowner’s collection, worked in Provincetown in the middle of the last century—dominates the space. A baby grand piano is nestled in the bay window and a pair of Barcelona chairs are conducive to listening to music, reading or conversation. The back parlor, with its comfortable sofa and replace with soapstone surround is the place to relax. At the touch of a button, the panel above the log storage slot slides back to reveal a TV. Butz + Klug redesigned the back wall of the room with alternating verticals of bookshelves and triple-hung windows, which create a balcony eect when the top two are open.
“It reads like a glass wall with bookcases in front of it, rather than a wall with windows punched into it,” says Klug. “It makes the room feel much bigger.” The mellow mix of furnishings from a variety of periods and places carries into the master bedroom. A 1920s art deco light that the homeowner acquired in Prague spotlights a large abstract painting by a Czech artist. An upholstered Flexform bed from Showroom offers a contemporary vibe, while a curvy Eames chair has an organic silhouette. All of it adds up to a very happy homeowner: “The rooms’ harmonious, clean and elegant style completely reects my sensibilities.”