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Style Watch

A Cambridge loft gets a new look, in a hurry

The resident doctor requested a makeover for this former factory space, stat.


The young doctor who lives in this Kendall Square loft had only a few requirements for interior designer Barbara Vail, and one of them related to timing. “He wanted to have the entire unit installed as quickly as possible,” says Vail, principal of Boston design studio Galyean Vail. In the living and dining areas, the schedule limited Vail’s options — large furnishings had to be purchased in standard colors and fabrics due to the fast turnaround time. She was able to be more creative with the smaller pieces she relied on to infuse the space with character and flair. A neutral palette serves as a great backdrop for the former factory’s architectural details as well as the modern flourishes Vail introduced, which include mid-century accents, organic materials, and colorful art and textiles.

1. A carved wood triptych serves as the living area’s focal point. “The ceilings are very high,” says Vail, “and the piece draws the eye up.”


2. Furnishings are a mix of high and low price points. The Pier 1 console, for example, was modestly priced. “We liked that it has an Asian-inspired look,” says Vail.

3. A Crate & Barrel floor lamp with a white linen drum shade has an interesting silhouette. “The base is made of three wooden legs which reminded me of the limbs of a tree,” the designer says.

4. To break up all the neutral hues in the space, Vail introduced a small blue-and-white upholstered chair from Anthropologie.


5. A shelf under the window from Dot & Bo showcases books and small vintage accessories, including brass vessels and jars. “Those details add character to the neutral setting,” says Vail.

6. Several botanicals, including a fig tree, bring the outdoors in. “The plants enhance the light, airy, natural feel of the space,” she says.

7. The neutral-toned armless sofa, from CB2, combines comfort with modern styling. Patterned throw pillows from Mohr & McPherson bring in touches of color.


8. A wool-and-jute rug and a poof made of braided hemp lend organic appeal.

9. The live-edge coffee table was custom made from a willow-tree slab by a local woodworker.

10. Vail encouraged the homeowner to splurge on items that will last a long time, such as the vintage Oriental rug.

11. Around the IKEA dining table are replicas of mid-century designer Hans Wegner’s iconic Wishbone chair.

12. The blue-and-white painting was created by the homeowner. “He wanted to make something for the space himself,” says Vail. “The piece reflects his emotional state and also works well with the room’s scheme.”