At Old Boston, we are inspired by historical designs and decorating ideas.
Our passion is to create architectural spaces of stunning beauty and originality.
Recently, while reading about a historic home for sale, we were taken aback by the realtor's description: "Stepping into this charming home is like stepping back in time to when craftsmanship and attention to detail were the norm." Why can't we expect the same craftmanship and attention to detail today? Why is living surrounded by beautiful and artful things a thing of the past?
Many of Old Boston's new and returning clients live in historical buildings that have extraordinary potential. They often imagine their homes at the height of the Victorian era, or in Federal, Regency, and Greek Revival style, and ask us to help them recreate the original beauty of their interiors. Sometimes our intervention extends to the restoration of plasterwork, woodwork, and glasswork, as many of the buildings in Boston and neighboring towns were subjected to abuse or neglect, and lost many of their original architectural features. We then recreate crown moldings and ceiling medallions by following historical profiles; we find original, period-appropriate fireplace mantels, or replicate and match existing ones; we hunt for original light fixtures; we install beautiful woodwork in doorways, window casings, baseboards, archways, and wainscoting; we build doors to replicate the ones that already exist in the building, or take inspiration from ones found in neighboring homes. We tie all these important elements together by installing lush wallpapers, carpets, window treatments, and by recommending pier/mantel mirrors and unique pieces of period furniture that beautifully complement the atmosphere of the room. We at Old Boston do all this with an attentive eye to historical accuracy, perfected through many years of study of historical photographs, decorating catalogs, interiors of house museums, and our own experience.
Of course our customers do not have to live in a historical home to enjoy the infinite possibilities Old Boston has to offer. A few years ago, one of our projects involved the recreation of a Victorian room in a newer home that had great bones but no original details to restore - a blank slate from which to begin.
Our most recent projects include the restoration of a large reception room in an 1867 South End townhouse. We completely restored plasterwork and woodwork, cleaned the two fireplace mantels from decades of soot and sloppy claulking and paintwork, hung the large original walnut mirrors with more efficient supporting hardware, and had the original wallpaper replicated and installed (click here to see the original nineteenth-century wallpaper and border fragments we found under layers of plaster and compound).
One of the jewels of our portfolio is the complete restoration of a reception room in an 1850s Boston brownstone. Owned by one of our most faithful clients, several of the projects featured on our website come from this gorgeous home. The room boasts twelve-foot ceilings, original woodwork, original mahogany doors and pocket doors (see their restoration) with original hardware, extensive ceiling plasterwork, and a mantelpiece we had already restored in 2013 by creating an elaborate insert and a new hearth (see the process).
We restored the ceiling plasterwork wherever it showed relevant damage; and removed many layers of paint from the original doors and their black-enamel acorn-tip hinges, from the woodwork around the three doorways, and from the baseboards.
Embossed wallpaper in exotic-foliage or damask patterns was popular in Victorian Boston, especially in the late part of the nineteenth century (the grand entryway at the Gibson House is an example). We chose a splendid large-damask-pattern anaglypta paintable wall covering; we hung a dado paneling for the lower portion of the walls, also in embossed wallpaper; and created a custom-design chair rail in mahogany and delicate gold leaf, which divides the damask portion from the dado paneling. We painted the upper section in a lush antique-mauve color, and the dado paneling in a dark glazed gold.
Our client owns a beautiful collection of antique prints and paintings. He wanted to display them in the room, and we recommended the nineteenth-century method of hanging from picture rails - decorative wooden strips that are usually installed right under the crown moldings, or under a wallpaper border or frieze. We created a gilt picture rail with decorative rosettes placed in the center of each wall.
Original nineteenth-century picture-rail hooks, featuring decorative rosettes, hold antique-mauve cords that support antique frames and artwork.
The fireplace mantel needed a more suitable, substantial mirror, one that should reach the crown moldings and propel the entire structure upward. Though elegant, the previous antique mirror (not original to the room) hung horizontally and did not underscore the grandness of the room. We found an 1870s six-foot-tall Boston-made walnut mirror on the west coast, and arranged to have it shipped. It took a couple of months for it to arrive. When we installed it, it was clear that it had been well worth the wait: it was the perfect choice for the room, from the way it seems to have always belonged to it, to the way it beautifully opens up the space in the way it reflects its new surroundings.
We completed the project by creating an elegant period-appropriate portière for one of the doorways.