Subscribe Now


“These clients were absolutely fearless about color,” says interior designer Nikki Dalrymple. The empty nesters were ready for big changes — they had recently moved from a large suburban home to the oldest neighborhood in Boston. Much of their existing furniture wouldn’t fit into the historic townhouse with 12-foot ceilings, but that was OK; they wanted to shake things up. Art finds kicked off the rich color palette, while a mix of antiques, nods to midcentury modern style and transitional pieces completed the luxe yet comfortable space.


Charlestown 1: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz

Photos by Sean Litchfield


Living Room at a Glance

Who lives here: A couple of empty nesters

Location: Charlestown neighborhood of Boston

Size: 600 square feet (55.7 square meters)

Designer: Nikki Dalrymple of Acquire


After the couple moved in, their living room had become a catchall for leftover furniture from their suburban home. The moldings, floors, fireplace and wall color (chosen by the homeowner right before she hired the designer) were all existing, but other than that, it was a blank canvas.

Dalrymple began with some art finds. The 7-foot panels that flank the sofa are antique wallpaper panels that the designer had framed. “They anchor the sides of the room nicely,” she says. “My clients are world travelers and travel a lot to Asia. I wanted to give them a worldly aesthetic without creating a themed room.”

In the center is a colorful abstract the designer found in New York City that brings in the bright palette. “When it comes to pillows, I try to be careful and selective,” she says. “I didn’t want the pillows on this sofa to draw the eye away from the art, while in some of the areas, I could choose more intricate patterns.”

Wall paint: Monroe Bisque, Benjamin Moore; art: Zoe Bios Creative; sofa: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams; side tables: Arteriors


Charlestown 2: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz


The Carrara marble fireplace is original to the house. “It was so beautiful and had aged so well that we wanted to keep it,” Dalrymple says. A traditional mirror stands up to the high ceilings and bounces the light from the windows around the room. “I don’t like to design in one time period; I like to mix them. This room has nods to the home’s history, a little bit of midcentury modern style that my clients are drawn to and transitional style,” she says.

The comfortable wingback chair is leather and inspired the rug. It is a natural sisal; Dalrymple added a leather border that matches the leather on the chair. This tableaux was able to take on the artful silk embroidered pillow. The basket next to the fireplace mixes in a handwoven texture with a bit of modernity in its square accents.

Wingback chair: West Elm; pillow fabric: Larsen


Dalrymple custom-designed the black lacquer coffee table, which anchors the room with a dark color she picks up on here and there throughout. She added gold-leafed trays and antique objects.

High-Style Coffee Table Sets in Every Color


Charlestown 3: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz


An 18th-century English card table brings in some age. The lamp atop it is another black accent with a more modern look. The designer added the custom lampshade to match the bold colors used throughout the room.

Lamp: Crate & Barrel


Charlestown 4: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz


Dalrymple designed these new built-ins across from the sofa. The mesh panels conceal a sound system, and the molding around the top matches the original crown molding around the room. “We didn’t want to make an entertainment center that looked like an entertainment center,” she says.

Pillow fabric: Oscar de la Renta for Lee Jofa


The homeowners were totally game for a jewel-toned purple settee, which adds the largest swath of color to the room. The purple velvet and nailhead trim are custom details.


Charlestown 5: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz


The well-worn editions and antique objects on shelves around the room nod to the home’s history.


Charlestown 6: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz


Meanwhile, interesting modern sculptural vases by ceramist Mirena Kim recall midcentury modern design and add a black accent.

Vases: via Good, Boston