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A concrete fireplace surround and shelves of family treasures star in this living room makeover

The soon-to-be empty nesters didn’t want to move, so they decided to refresh their well-loved home.

The owners of this Newton house will soon be empty nesters, so they decided to refresh their home.sabrina cole quinn photo

As soon-to-be empty nesters, Alexandra Bier’s clients were ready for a change. Rather than migrate to the city, the Newton couple remade their well-loved but tired family home. International Builders knocked down walls, patched, and then refinished the oak floors, turning a series of small, separate rooms into a single, unified living space. Bier banished a bay window, designed a focal point-worthy fireplace, and found chic new furniture. “They can now comfortably entertain large groups with seamless circulation and abundant seating options,” she says.

1 The symmetrical arrangement of curved sofas feels more formal than a sectional, making it appropriate for a seating area without a TV. The tweedy upholstery, however, is completely unfussy.


2 Wood shelves stained to match the dark floors show off family treasures. “They wanted a place to display things they brought back from their travels to places like Croatia and South Africa,” Bier says.

3 When none of the stone slabs caught the client’s eye, Bier proposed having O.A.S.I.S. Custom Concrete Designs in Fitchburg create a concrete fireplace surround. The raised hearth hides a small propane tank.

4 Bier reframed the owners’ monotype by Carla Klevan in a simple black frame with a white mat. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, a warm white that is neither stark nor yellow.

5 Throw pillows add jewel tones to the room’s earthy hues. Fabrics include a luscious sapphire velvet, a cut velvet geometric, and Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon. “The chinoiserie pattern plays off some of their pieces,” Bier says. “They have eclectic taste.”

6 The coffee table’s teardrop-shaped top echoes the curves of the sofa. “When I saw this at Modern Relik in SoWa, I thought, A-ha! It’s perfect!” Bier says.

Marni Elyse Katz is a contributing editor to the Globe Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @StyleCarrot. Send comments to