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Home design ideas: Making a go-between, underused space shine

Jewel-tone pieces help brighten this cozy gathering area for a family of five.

The owners "were struggling with how to make [the room] a destination," designer Thiara Borges Dananberg says.Joyelle West

Thiara Borges Dananberg’s clients asked her to inject heart, soul, and function into what they call “the fireplace room” of their historic Jamaica Plain home. “They were struggling with how to make it a destination, instead of a transitional space on the way to the room with the TV,” says the founder of Studio Borges Interior Design. Borges Dananberg transformed it into a cozy haven by painting the walls and millwork Benjamin Moore Van Deusen Blue and adding upholstered furniture in rich jewel tones. “The dark, monochromatic colors anchor it as a central gathering space,” she says.

1 The shaggy, hand-knotted rug introduces warm color, pattern, and texture. “Everything else is solid; this makes the space feel more collected,” Borges Dananberg says. “It’s also welcoming and soft enough for the kids to kneel around the table for games.”


2 To draw the eye to the bookshelves and show off the owners’ collections, the designer lined the backs with a golden yellow sisal fiber wallcovering.

3 She wanted a light that felt like it was already there, rather than one that would “stick out as a showy moment.” This pendant by Lucid Lighting casts beautiful shadows and doesn’t compete with their antler chandelier (seen in the mirror) in the adjacent space.

4 A large sofa upholstered in a luscious performance velvet replaced an undersized loveseat and encourages lounging. Top-down, bottom-up shades offer privacy at night. “The large tree out back feels like part of the room,” the designer says.

5 Borges Dananberg renewed the owners’ vintage armchair with embroidered upholstery. “I’m not a matchy-matchy designer,” she says. “The mid-century feel of this fabric honors the piece and the colors pull the room together almost sneakily.”

6 “The vintage coffee table with camel hoof-shaped feet has a lot of personality, but doesn’t crowd the room,” the designer says. “It’s great for puzzles and games.”


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