When Maine resident Mary Jane Schotte decided to make a mid-life career change, it made sense that her home reflect a sensibility that was new to her as well. Pursuing a degree in interior design from Boston Architectural College, Schotte relocated part time to a one-bedroom apartment in Boston. To create an aesthetic that was sophisticated and comfortable, Schotte collaborated with one of her design instructors, Anne Coplen.
"I didn't want the apartment to feel temporary," said Schotte. "It needed to feel curated."
Art, she says, played a big role in making the 800-square-foot interior come to life. In the living room, an archival pigment ink print of a large purple allium flower from Iris Gallery of Fine Art is a focal point. A portrait of a woman created by an artist through Common Cathedral — a Boston program that provides art materials and space to homeless and low-income individuals — has dramatic presence.
Schotte and Coplen scoured antique stores and sample sales to find alluring, high-quality pieces.
"It was a challenge to acquire great finds that hold their own in a design sense but didn't break the budget," says Schotte. A serpentine-style sofa upholstered in Kravet velvet was a big score at a floor sample sale at the Boston Design Center's BDC to Go. Pillows are custom upholstered, the throw is from T.J. Maxx. Modern-lined chairs with dark wood sides are upholstered in the same fabric as the sofa.
"We limited the pattern used in the room and put the emphasis on texture," said Coplen. "It's pretty much a monochromatic space, so texture gives the place more depth." Pillow fabrics and the top of the coffee table have a sheen, and doors Schotte had made for a console that conceals electronics are sheathed with a woven Romo wall covering. The designers also embellished a shade of a floor lamp from T.J. Maxx with textured fabric trim by Houles.
The galley kitchen merges with the living room, so it was important that the island stools not take up much visual or actual space. Coplen and Schotte found low-profile stools with metal legs and wooden seats that swivel, by McGuire Furniture. A blue Steven King runner adds a pop of color.
Schotte and Coplen so enjoyed their collaboration that they decided to forge a business partnership: Coplen Schotte Interior Design. "Anne's been a designer for decades so she has lots of experience; I'm new on the scene with a fresh perspective," says Schotte. "I think we complement one another well."