Michael J. Lee

When it was time to design the dining room in her client’s newly purchased Beacon Hill town house, Annsley McAleer faced a conundrum. Tear out the plum-colored Delft-style tiles around the fireplace in favor of something new, or figure out how to incorporate them in a way that felt fresh? “We went back and forth,” says the principal of Annsley Interiors. “The tiles are probably very old, so we decided to work with them.” By pairing textiles in purple and blue, a color that figures predominantly throughout the house, McAleer created an elegant, yet not too serious scheme. She says, “We incorporated the purple without ending up with what you’d describe as a purple room.”

1 The high/low pile wool rug from the Steven King showroom in the Boston Design Center grounds the light-colored space. It’s also durable enough to stand up to the family dog.


2 A custom mahogany extension table with a subtly modern, curved pedestal base replaced the family’s small, traditional dining table. McAleer reupholstered the seat cushions of the client’s four side chairs in purple herringbone fabric by Pierre Frey to match the fireplace tiles.

3 Donghia linen and silk drapery with fun purple and blue embroidery on a textured background ties together all the elements in the room and adds color and interest to the light gray walls.

4 Playing off the client’s desire for an oversize look with modern flair, McAleer chose the Vaughan Sorbonne chandelier, made from horseshoe-shaped pieces of handblown glass. “I love that it’s the focal point,” McAleer says, “but it doesn’t overpower the room.”

5 The designer replaced a staid inset panel of painted flowers above the fireplace with a custom-cut piece of antiqued mirror to open up the room. The homeowners purchased the Pat Steir print at the SMFA at Tufts Art Sale. McAleer says, “The pale walls are a clean palette for their collection.”


6 A looped tweed made from alpaca, wool, and mohair by Pierre Frey covers the Julian Chichester head chairs, which are also used in the living room for extra seating.

Marni Elyse Katz is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.