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Visions of Grandeur

Interior designer Gerald Pomeroy designs a Victorian brownstone in Boston

Written by Amy Elbert
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  • Gordon Beall

    Formerly grand homes in Boston’s South End were routinely robbed of carved fireplace mantels and other architectural embellishments when converted into apartments some 30 years ago. Happily for interior designer Gerald Pomeroy, one Victorian brownstone was overlooked—neglect was its best friend.

    The brownstone’s mahogany front doors with privacy glass are original, just one of numerous elements in the residence that date to the 19th century.

    Interior design: Gerald Pomeroy, Gerald Pomeroy Design Group, 21 Milford St., Suite 2, Boston, MA 02118; 617/227-6693,  geraldpomeroydesigngroup.com.
    Kitchen design and construction: Wood Works Etc., 171 Mattakeesett St., Pembroke, MA 02359, 781/974-9822, woodworks101.com.

    Photography: Gordon Beall
    Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick

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    Though the interior’s ornate plasterwork had been painted a blinding hospital white, it was undamaged. No one bothered to clean or refinish the French walnut parquet floors, but they were left in place. And perhaps most amazing, three mid-1800s Carrara marble fireplace surrounds and mantels remained intact, albeit spray-painted black.

    After rehabbing three other Boston properties—two in Beacon Hill and one in Back Bay—Gerald wasn’t intimidated by the rundown condition or the unfortunate color choices of previous tenants. He could visualize the grandeur that lay beneath the dirty surface of the four-level home, divided into three separate residences. "I tend to buy places and do them over—places in dire repair that have good bones," Gerald says. "There were 14-foot-high ceilings, huge windows, three working fireplaces, a terrace off the living room, and details like moldings, medallions, and picture railings, all in remarkably good condition."

    Sources:
    Area rug (Capri Weave #1804EA): Asmara, 800/451-7240, trade only.
    Ottomancamelback sleeper sofa: by Gerald Pomeroy, 617/227-6693.
    Ottoman fabric ("Ocelot’’/Aqua, Sand #10877-06): Cowan & Tout, 212/647-6900, cowtan.com, trade only.
    Sofa-and-chair fabric ("Bruno’’/Adobe #10265): Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996, trade only.
    Blue pillow ("Quogue’’/Wedgwood #NC0802-095): Nancy Corzine, 212/223-8340, trade only.
    Patterned pillows: Kravet, 888/457-2838, trade only.
    Pillow trim ("Chenille Brush Fringe’’ #983-26812): Samuel & Sons, 212/704-8000, trade only.
    Floor lamp: Vaughan Designs, 212/319-7070, trade only.
    Prints: owner’s collection.
    Sofa and chairs: custom.
    Nesting tableschair at secretary: The Barn at 17 Antiques, 617/625-5204, trade ony.
    Bird painting (Shore Bird, Oluf Rudbeck, reproduction): Antiques, on 5, 617/951-0008.
    Three-tiered console: Gerald Pomeroy, 617/227-6693.
    Console fabric (faux ostrich): Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996, trade only.
    Brackets (reproduction): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777, trade only.
    Drapery: Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996, trade only.
    Hardware: Royal Britannica by Vesta, 800/638-3782, ivesta.com.
    Lantern ("Venetian’’): Niermann Weeks, 212/319-7979, trade only.
    Mirror: custom. Celadon vase: Webster & Co., 617/261-9660, trade only.
    Secretarytraytea service: owner’s collection.
    Mantel (Carrara marble): original to house.
    Wall paint: custom.
    Ceiling paint ("Dimity’’ #2008); trim paint ("Ringwold Ground’’ #208): Farrow & Ball, 888/511-1121, farrow-ball.com.

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    Gerald bought the first and second floors, united by a stairway when the house was converted to apartments in the 1980s. "My first level is the original parlor, so that’s why the moldings are so ornate," he explains. High ceilings and 6-foot-tall windows add to the sense of elegance. "It’s spectacular to have that kind of height and abundance of natural light," he says.

    Sources:
    Biedermeier table: Barn at 17, 617/625-5204, trade only.
    Chairs ("Cheshire’’): Lee Jofa, 800/453-3563, trade only.
    Drapery: Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996, trade only.
    Art (Bric a Brac with Lamp by Lucio Ranucci): Lanoue Fine Art, 617/262-4400.
    Lantern ("Venetian’’): Niermann Weeks, 212/319-7979, trade only.
    Cabinet: Art Applications, 617/269-1432.
    Area rug (#238292A): Stark Carpet Corp., 212/752-9000, trade only.
    Mercury glass: FDO Group Inc., 617/737-2800, trade only.
    Urnstand: Antiques on 5, 617/951-0008, trade only.
    Ottoman: The Barn at 17, 617/625-5204, trade only.
    Ottoman fabric: Ralph Lauren, 888/475-7674.
    Slipper chair: custom.
    Chair fabric ("Bruno’’/Adobe): Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996, trade only.
    Garden stoolsconcessphere: owner’s collection.
    Floor lamp ("Monaco’’/Brass #SL27/BR): Vaughan Designs, 212/319-7070, trade only.
    Plate on stand: Webster & Co., 617/261-9660, trade only.
    Mirror: Gerald Pomeroy, 617/227-6693.
    Mantel (Carrara marble): original to house.
    Wall paint: custom glaze.
    Trim paint ("Ringwold Ground’’ #208); ceiling paint ("Dimity’’ #2008): Farrow & Ball, 888/511-1121.

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    Upstairs rooms were a challenge, with 8-foot-high ceilings, no trimwork, and zero storage. Gerald added crown moldings, beefed up the window trim, and had shelves built in the master bedroom and office. Because the floors were not original, wool sisal-style wall-to-wall carpeting was installed.

    In Gerald’s office, an evocative painting by Brad Durham hangs above the mantel.

    Sources:
    Campaign desk: owner’s collection.
    Chairsrosewood piano stool: Antiques on 5, 617/951-0008, trade only.
    Art (Place and Memory by Brad Durham): Brad Durham, 612/822-1158, braddurham.com.
    Fireplace accessories: Adams Fireplace Shop, 617/547-3100.
    Petrified wood table: FDO Group, 617/737-2800, trade only.
    Plantation shutters: Barrows The Window Shoppe, 617/964-4580.
    Wall paint ("Hague Blue’’ #30); trim paint ("Archive’’ #227); ceiling paint ("Dimity’’ #2008): Farrow & Ball, 888/511-1121.
    Mantel: original to house.
    Baskets in bookcase: Target, target.com.
    Dutch Regency mirror: Antiques at 99, 617/367-8088.
    Ottoman: Connors Design, 508/429-4980.
    Ottoman fabric ("Coda’’/ Wisk #92523-02): Rogers & Goffigon, 203/532-8068, trade only.
    Carpet (Karastan): Harry’s Carpet One, 617/328-4002.
    Basket for fabric (Indian woven basket): owner’s collection.

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    Black-and-white toile wall covering sets the cozy tone of the master bedroom. "I love the way it wraps the space. It’s a timeless feel," Gerald says. Plantation shutters on the windows "keep the look clean and architectural," he adds.

    Sources:
    Wallpaper ("Plaisirs D’Indochine’’/Charcoal #69289-967); lamps (tole column lamps): Brunschwig & Fils, 212/838-7878, brunschwig.com, trade only.
    Lampshades: Blanche P. Field, 617/423-0715, blanchefield.com, trade only.
    Bench ("Louis XVI Settee’’ #CHR-7865): Louis J. Solomon, 212/545-9200, louisjsolomon.com, trade only.
    Cushion fabric ("Rivulets’’ #1503/05 by Great Plains): Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, trade only.
    Bed: owner’s collection.
    Bed linens ("Caprice Gray’’ by Court of Versailles);bedspread; cashmere throw:Bloomingdales, bloomingdales.com.
    Bedside tablesRegency chairs: owner’s collection.
    Chair fabric ("Panther Figured Woven’’/Tawny with Black #9794N-0810): Stroheim & Romann, 718/706-7000, stroheim.com, trade only.
    Mirrors: Antiques on 5, 617/951-0008, trade only.
    Chest of drawerstea caddy: The Barn at 17 Antiques, 617/625-5204, trade only.
    Mirror: custom.
    Artsilver: owner’s collection.
    Carpet (Karastan): Harry’s Carpet One, 617/328-4002.
    Landscape painting (watercolor);obelisks (marble): owner’s collection.

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    Shelves were added to the master bedroom. Gerald shelves the books spine-in after he reads them. "It’s an old Celtic custom I got from my mother," he explains.

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    This year, Gerald rehabbed the kitchen, powder room, and master bath. "The driving force was a kitchen that was classic, timeless, and practical," he explains. Cabinets run to the ceiling for maximum storage. Elegant crown moldings stand out against a taupe-toned ceiling. "When you go dark on the ceiling, the moldings pop," he says.

    Sources:
    Wallpaper ("Andover Stripe’’/Yellow, Fern #20223-03): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900, trade only.
    Floor (vinyl): Amtico Vinyl Flooring, 800/291-9885, amtico.com.
    Cabinetryfinish (custom): Wood Works Etc., 781/974-9822.
    Countertop and farm sink: (Calacatta marble): Revival Flooring & Stoneworks, 781/630-1810.
    Faucets(by Perrin & Rowe): Rohl, 800/777-9762, rohlhome.com.
    Light (Newport Collection #6513): Hudson Valley Lighting, hudsonvalleylighting.com.
    Plates ("Manor Transferware’’): Williams-Sonoma Home, 888/922-4108, wshome.com.
    Print above door (antique fencing print): The Barn at 17 Antiques, 617/625-5204, trade only.

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    A marble farmhouse-style sink and subway tiles with beveled edges give the small kitchen its wow factor. Cabinet hinges, door pulls, and the metal trim on the ceiling light fixture were sandblasted for added depth.

    Sources:
    Subway tile backsplash (Calacatta marble): Tile Showcase, 617/426-6515.
    Glasses next to sink (by William Yeoward): Shreve, Crump & Low, 617/267-9100.
    Faucets (by Perrin & Rowe): Rohl, 800/777-9762, rohlhome.com.

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    Interior designer and homeowner Gerald Pomeroy.

    While his residence totals an unpretentious 1,500 square feet, the size suits Gerald’s single lifestyle. "I like the traditional footprint with a bedroom upstairs and living space down," he says. Best of all, he likes being part of a South End renaissance. "The transformation has been astounding. Properties are back to their original grandeur, and there’s a mix of superb restaurants, shops, and theater," Gerald says. "It’s an exciting place to live."

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