Livin' is easy
A kitchen-equipped 800-square-foot roof deck maximizes outdoor time.
In 2006, developer and interior designer Carol Berc hit the real estate jackpot when she acquired three row houses on Newbury Street in the Back Bay. Almost immediately, Berc launched a renovation of the three late-19th-century buildings, converting them into seven residential condominiums and four commercial spaces. She also added a top floor to the three buildings, turning them into a penthouse condo for herself.
One of the penthouse’s most appealing aspects is its 800-square-foot roof deck. “I wanted the entire deck to be usable, comfortable living space,” Berc says. She wanted to be able to cook outdoors, too, so she hired Rosemary Porto, a senior designer at Poggenpohl Boston Kitchen Design Studio, to develop a plan. “This was not intended to be a typical outdoor kitchen with lots of rock incorporated into the base,” says Porto, who envisioned a streamlined and contemporary space. She selected bamboo granite, which features varying green hues in a linear pattern, for the counters and high backsplash. “I wanted to bring in some sense of nature, and the green granite reminded me of grass. It has a strong presence and sets off all the brick beautifully,” says Porto.
At the center of the kitchen is a commercial-grade built-in Kalamazoo gas grill equipped with an infrared rotisserie system and a wok burner. A sink, two refrigerator drawers, and ample under-counter cabinetry are all made of weatherproof stainless steel.
For the deck flooring, the rubber-membrane roof is clad with interlocking tiles made out of Australian jarrah wood, which are comfortable to walk on and easy to remove and replace if the roof needs maintenance. Three copper canopies along one section of the wall provide some shade, and sconces that recall historic gas lanterns illuminate the space at night. A garden enthusiast, Berc made sure the terrace included space for pots, where she cultivates flowers, herbs, tomatoes, and peppers.
The deck’s focal point is an original brick gable with hand carving that was restored during the renovation. Underneath, Berc had a customized birdbath installed.
Berc frequently hosts friends and family during the summer, so there’s ample seating and a hot tub with a prime view of the iconic Citgo sign. The deck also includes an all-season flat-screen television and sound system, which comes in handy when entertaining, although Berc says she prefers to tune in to the hustle and bustle on Newbury Street. “It’s an amazing spot,” she says. “You’re removed from all that’s going on down below and part of it at the same time.”