Style Watch

A new traffic pattern solves a condo’s awkward layout

Careful planning eases the space crunch in a Beacon Hill condo.


Justine Sterling is a self-described stickler for space planning. “I can’t do anything until the plan works,” says the Melrose-based interior designer. Her careful approach was essential in this project, a one-bedroom condo in a Beacon Hill brownstone. The U-shaped layout necessitates walking through the narrow living room to reach the hall that leads to the master bedroom suite. Sterling was tasked with redoing almost the entire space, and the most crucial concern was flow. “The challenge was to keep the passageways open while still creating comfortable living areas,” she says. As the centerpiece of the living room, she designed a 10-foot-long walnut wall unit, built by Melrose contractor Glen Mistretta, to house the television and display mementos and collectibles. Its narrow profile allows easy access to the hallway beyond and to the adjacent den, which doubles as a guest room, thanks to a sleeper sofa and shades added to the French doors.

1. Placed under elegant glass cloches, the homeowner’s collection of foul balls from Fenway Park look like art objects.



2. Sterling used a single paint color — Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray — to unify the spaces and lend a larger, airier feel.

3. The James Zwadlo painting depicting an aerial view of a crosswalk is the focal point on one side of the room.

4. Battery-operated Lutron honeycomb shades can be controlled via an iPad.

5. To honor the homeowner’s uncle, who fought in World War II, Sterling framed two maps of the 1944 Battle of Anzio taken from one of the homeowner’s books.

6. The Eileen Gray side table and Artemide Tolomeo floor lamp serve both the sofa and the lounge.

7. The Palisander rosewood and black leather Eames lounge was the starting point for the room.

8. The Pakistani Turkmen Ottoman rug from Landry & Arcari was the finishing touch. “As soon as we saw it, we knew we were done,” Sterling says.


9. A 3-foot-wide passage separates the wall unit and the trio of 18-inch-deep Arabescato marble-topped Rubik nesting tables from Design Within Reach.

10. SoWa artist John Gonnella was commissioned to create the painting over the mantel. “His work appeals to the homeowner, who works in the financial industry,” Sterling says.

11. In the absence of recessed lighting, Sterling added cone-shaped blown-glass wall sconces over the fireplace.

12. A pair of red leather ottomans from Crate & Barrel provide extra storage.