Your Home: Kitchen & Bath

Smaller, smarter

A prewar Back Bay condo gets a super-efficient update.

By Molly Jane Quinn
September 26, 2010

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Measuring just 230 square feet, this eat-in kitchen is less than grand. And when a family of five purchased this condo in a 1920s building in Boston’s Back Bay, the room – divided at the time by a butler’s pantry – needed to be made much more efficient. Architects Dewing & Schmid of South Dartmouth reworked the floor plan, and two Boston-based interior designers, Kara Butterfield of MakeReady and Lindsay Bentis of Thread Art and Design, took it from there.

“We had to look at creative ways to incorporate storage so it would be comfortable,” says Butterfield. The small room also demanded a quiet palette. “My tendency is to pull colors from the landscape; they are easier to live with,” says Bentis. “Gray seems very cold, but it’s not if you choose a gray with a brown base, rather than blue, which tends to feel colder.”

The walls were painted with Benjamin Moore Indian River and the ceiling with White Dove. The banquette seating behind the antique farmhouse table – the apartment’s only dining area – is upholstered in Knoll’s silvery Fibra fabric. Mottled gray CaesarStone counters complete the look.

Says Bentis: “Overall, it’s the mix of materials that helped us find the happy middle between modern and traditional.”

1. To make the most of 230 square feet, the stove, microwave, and wine fridge are sited along one wall.

2. Open shelves allow quick access to cookbooks.

3. Glass-front cabinets display pretty ceramics, much like a curio cabinet would in a living room.

4. A slim drawer under the built-in desk holds pencils and pads.

5. Instead of cabinets under the counters, deep pullout drawers make it easy to find the perfect pan. Narrow compartments inside some of the drawers hold dishes.

6. Tubular steel chairs are a classic Eero Saarinen design.

7. A ventilation system is hidden behind soffits.

8. Tall cabinets on either side of the built-in desk hold food and cleaning supplies.

9. The built-in banquette extends beyond the edge of the table so that guests can sit without feeling boxed in.

10. Drawers under the banquette store infrequently used items, such as large platters.

Molly Jane Quinn is a freelance writer on Cape Cod. Send comments to

  • September 26, 2010 cover
  • Sept. 26 Globe Magazine: Your Home