Homepolish designer Barbara Vail created a serene Boston bachelor pad for a neurologist who is always on the go. Tour with her as she talks about the details of pulling together a calm and collected space that draws from Scandanavian style.
Photos by Joyelle West.
Barbara, as soon as you walk into this apartment, it’s immediately so light and calming. How did it start out?
“The space was empty when we started, so Joel and I needed to change everything! We did just that, bringing in new furniture, accessories, and everything in between to make the space feel like home. Since the building was once a factory in the early 1900s, there were tall windows and plenty of natural light to work with.”
So really, it was a top to bottom project! What was the timeline?
“Quick! We did everything in about 3 months, so Joel wouldn’t have to live in an empty apartment anymore. Because of this, the larger pieces were quick-ship items (i.e. sofa, bed, dining table). He is SO efficient, so that was extremely helpful in getting everything done ASAP.”
Sounds like he was a pretty ideal client. How did the two of you work together?
“It was so great collaborating with Joel as we are both in tune to the energies of a space (which is extremely important to him since he has synesthesia). We worked together to be sure each piece felt right, that the colors were favorable, and that it was a comfortable space conducive for creativity. He also wanted to incorporate some of his own artwork, so we worked together on a color scheme and placement for his original piece that hangs above the dining table.”
Since you two meshed so well, were there any difficult design sells?
“Well, I thought the blue Dhurrie chair would be a hard sell since Joel wanted an overall neutral space. I told him it would be a beautiful design element that would really stand out among the neutral background. He actually loved the idea and to quote his response, ‘I die!’ Ha!”
Oh yes, speaking of that chair (love!), what are your other top décor items in the space?
“The bedside lamp from Schoolhouse Electric, the bench from Retrocraft Design (a cute little midcentury shop in Concord, Massachusetts), and the custom coffee table are all highlights for me. But overall, I love the vintage accessories throughout.”
That custom coffee table for sure! Can you tell us about the process of designing that piece?
“Interestingly enough, we originally wanted to go with a different coffee table, but it had a 3 month lead time. Instead, I contacted a local woodworker Steve Muzzy who I knew was a great source for live-edge furniture. I told him that I wanted an all-wood, organic style table with no visible hardware (which is tricky!). He sent me a photo a few days later of a raw willow tree slab, and I knew that was perfect. This true piece of nature really belonged in the apartment. I guess sometimes things work out for the best even when it’s not what you planned. (I’m so zen, right?)”
Haha, the zennest. That’s quite a find! Are there other little-known Boston vendors that you would recommend?
“Niche was awesome for the plants. In fact, all the plants were the most fun part of the project for me! Joel really let me go wild with this and loved the idea of bringing in an actual tree to the space. The tall ceilings and open concept was really conducive to that as well.”
Greenery always helps with an overall relaxing atmosphere. Now that everything is complete, what would you say your favorite part of the project is?
“The overall calming vibe of the finished apartment is exactly what Joel and I were going for. The modern pieces mix seamlessly with the vintage accessories for a cool and collected look.”
To see more of the apartment, see the tour here.