Unit 101: The built-ins

By Sara

Since the whole 'move to Chicago' thing, I've become incredibly nostalgic about my South Boston home.  It's the first place my husband and I ever owned, the home where we brought both our kids home from the hospital,  and the first place I ever really got to design as my own.   When I first moved to Boston in 2006, I shared a one-bathroom Cambridge apartment with 3 women and 2 cats.  Cozy.  Fleeing that situation, my boyfriend (now husband) and I moved into an apartment in the Back Bay about a year later. That apartment was wonderful - bright and sunny, fantastic location, our honeymoon pad - also a total lead-filled death trap for children. Hence the purchase of our South Boston condo 4 years ago. We moved when I was 9 months pregnant with our daughter and I gave birth 3 weeks later. Impeccable timing.    

This will be the first in a series of posts about our South Boston home, beloved unit 101.  

The condo is a 2009 rehab of an old spice factory in what was once a very industrial part of South Boston (think 'The Departed').  The place is solid concrete and has the original concrete pillars. I love these details and it is one of the reasons that we bought the place.

When you move in a hurry like we did there are compromises. Ours was definitely storage.  The only closets in the whole home are in the bedrooms.  So while you could hang your clothes, we couldn't so much as hang a coat when you walk through the door or store extra light bulbs.

The other major compromise in the home was lack of walls.  This sounds strange so let me explain.  The condo is a corner unit with HUGE floor to ceiling windows.  That means that all outside walls are window walls.  Also, both the bedrooms have double doors and as lovely as they are, they take up an entire interior partition wall.  After all the windows and doors are taken into account, we basically had 2 walls in the entire home to work with.  Since design, like marriage, is about compromise one wall went to my husband for the TV and the other wall was TBD.

Last year we finally decided.  I worked with an incredible carpenter and designed what I think was the best use of space for my family.  Floor to ceiling, wall to wall built-in cabinetry with two desks - one for grownups, one for kids, tons of closed storage for the ugly stuff, a bar, and open storage for books and styling.

This is one of the initial sketches.  The final product ended up a bit different, but luckily my carpenter was completely comfortable working with someone who changed her mind all the time and it all came together perfectly.  To top it all off, I even scored a vintage Pollock desk chair on craigslist and a toddler ghost chair for the littles.  

The "ugly stuff" hidden behind closed doors.  As you can see I am in love with my label maker.

The "ugly stuff" hidden behind closed doors.  As you can see I am in love with my label maker.

Ms. P drawing in her super hero cape.  

Ms. P drawing in her super hero cape.  

I should say the project was not cheap, but a truly worthwhile investment in our home that changed the way we used the space. The concept and execution didn't come quick but some things are well worth the wait!