Improper Bostonians: Jeffrey and Cheryl Katz at Home on Beacon Hill

In 1984, designers Jeffrey and Cheryl Katz purchased a four-story townhouse in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill. A corner tenement with a winding stair, the building had long-haul potential: “It was a rabbit warren of rooms,” remembers Cheryl. “When one tenant would move out, we’d take over the floor. The only problem was that given the building’s age and condition, we’d often find ourselves on one floor to use the stove, another to use the oven. We’d give our daughter Fanny a bath on the second floor, but we had to shower on the fourth floor.” Finally, having gutted the house and updated the systems, they were able to set about raising their new family and growing their architecture and interior design business, C & J Katz Studio.

Fast-forward 30 years. With the kids now out of the house, Cheryl (whose background also includes fashion styling) and Jeffrey (a graduate of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and a member of the RISD faculty) decided to mark this new chapter in their lives with a less ambitious renovation: After replacing the well-worn kitchen, they applied a fresh coat of paint to “every nook and cranny” of the house.

Photography by Justine Hand for Remodelista.

Above: After three decades, Cheryl and Jeffrey’s open-plan kitchen, which they describe as the “heart and soul of the house,” had taken a beating. Inspired by their restaurant work–they count several major Boston chefs as clients and friends–and images they’ve admired on Remodelista, the couple set out to update the space. Renovations included replacing all the appliances and cabinets, installing open shelving, and painting the floors (Benjamin Moore Randolph Gray) and walls (Benjamin Moore Snowfall White).

Above L: Jeffrey and Cheryl in their newly renovated kitchen. Above R: Their prized glassware collection is within easy reach over the sink.

By combining high/low elements and a lot of personal details, Jeffrey and Cheryl were able to keep the costs within reason. In the sink area, they paired a Venatino marble counter with Ikea cabinets. Several salvaged restaurant supply tables provide additional counter and work space.

Above: A collection of white ceramics is stored on glass shelves built with standard-issue brackets.

Above: Chosen for its modest size and stainless construction, a freestanding Bertazzoni range sits under a charcoal piece by the couple’s friend, architect Richard Griswold. See 7 High-Style Italian Ranges for ideas and sources.

Above: The ground floor’s open plan creates a communal flow between the kitchen and dining area. A farmhouse table from Conran, Salt chairs from DWR, and a fireplace painted in Benjamin Moore Gunsmith Gray create a homey, relaxed feel. The wood floors throughout the kitchen/dining area are painted Benjamin Moore Randolph Gray.

In addition to the kitchen redo, Jeffrey and Cheryl painted the entire interior Benjamin Moore Snowfall White, even the closets. The by-product was a great culling and reorganizing: “We touched every single item, from shoes to books to kids’ report cards, that we had accumulated in our 30 years here.”

Above L and R: Jeffrey’s art hangs in the dining room over a side table and mantel (shown above).

Above: Art by family and friends on a second-story wall opposite the living room. The portraits of Jeffrey and Cheryl are by Tarek Ashkar. The chairs are Victorian klismos, modeled after ancient Greek designs, and came from a shop nearby on Charles Street.

Above: Over the living room fireplace, two early-20th-century Frankart heads watch over the couple’s collection of African stools.

Above L and R: A flea-market-chair, recently reupholstered in black velvet, provides a sunny reading spot.

Above: The living room opens to a formal dining area. Here a Philippe Starck table–the first “real” piece of furniture the couple bought–is illuminated by an Italian chandelier in playful turquoise. The couple chose Benjamin Moore’s Museum Piece to frame a set of 18th-century prints taken from a volume of Sir William Hamilton’s vase collection.

Above: When the designers moved in, this fourth-floor studio served as the office for their fledgling business. It’s now Jeffrey’s art studio.

Above: On the top floor, which overlooks the Boston skyline, Cheryl and Jeffrey created a bedroom in the clouds by painting the entire space Benjamin Moore Snowfall White.

Above: Opposite the bed, a midcentury klismos chair by T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings stands alongside windows with floor-to-ceiling sheer curtains and a painted brick fireplace.

Above: A bold move: To take advantage of the light from an interior window, the couple eliminated the closet door, leaving their shoe collection exposed.

His and hers corners. Above L: Jeffrey’s work shirts and paints sit under his desk. Above R: On the kitchen mantle, Cheryl’s prized BDDW Coffee Mug and a vase from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

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