The single family townhouse at 160 West Canton Street had not seen its last major renovation in more than 70 years when renowned Interior designer Paula Daher of Daher Interior Design was hired to make it the dream home of the property's new owners, Peter and Lena McLoughlin.
The existing finishes and decor were largely frozen in time as exemplified by the metal kitchen that had been turning out meals for the home's residents since 1947. Peter, whose company, Boston Property Development and builder, Boston Property Contractors, led by Taylor Harrington had together built hundreds of residential units throughout greater Boston. Having thought about precisely the floor plan that would offer their family the lifestyle they were seeking, Peter and Lena continued to assemble their team, which included architectural firm Embarc. Their choice of designer was an easy one, according to Peter. "Paula's work speaks for itself and her passion for interior design makes her an absolute pleasure to work with her." Daher occupies an enviable niche as one of the top designers in the field and is actively sought after by her many clients for projects across the city as well as in second home enclaves from Maine to Florida and on islands everywhere. Her work has been featured in virtually every design publication imaginable and she is the recipient of numerous industry accolades, including Best of Boston by Boston Magazine.
The project required a couple of pivots on Daher's part as the best laid plans can sometimes change quickly. "The new owners were seeking a design that could allow their three young boys to play basketball indoors during inclement weather.", noted Paula. She was therefore set to design around a floor plan calling for the removal of a good portion of the floor on the lower level that would allow the requisite ceiling height necessary for an 8 year old to make a three point shot. Fast forward to the onset of Covid and the sudden availability of a house just outside the city that tempted Peter and Lena enough for them to shift gears and set their sights on a new dream home. Paula was hired to create the design for the couple's new acquisition simultaneously with the execution of a revised plan for the townhouse in such a choice setting, now to be built for an as yet unidentified new owner. The Steven Cohen Team set about to market the property as a spec home with the potential for some further customization. When a new set of future owners contracted to purchase the house, they naturally wanted to refine the floor plan, design aesthetic and color palette to meet their own tastes and needs. And to do so, Paula was selected once again as the designer who could best achieve the desired result.
160 West Canton Street, take 3, required moving from the original design to an interim concept to the final plan that was implemented for the property. "The new owners have two small children and naturally wanted the house to work for their lifestyle." Paula said. They loved Paula's idea of reiterating the curve of the cut out between the lower two floors with an inverse of that curve in the banquette seating area on the parlor level as well as in the primary suite on the level above. The three floors of glass that draw abundant light into the home are complemented by the many sources of illumination that were incorporated into the lighting plan. The home's deep, west facing garden, generous deck off of the kitchen and roof deck with panoramic views, allow for seamless enjoyment of the outdoors. Other modern design enhancements were also interspersed with the traditional elements of the 19th century townhouse. The result is spectacular. Paula, who is responsible for the design of many interiors throughout the city found it a pleasure to work with the home's owners in creating something particularly special. "160 West Canton Street is a signature property", she said.
Of course, the execution of a design plan for 160 West Canton unfolded in context with and as a reflection of both design's current evolution and the constraints under which Paula and the new owners were operating. We asked Paula to comment on some of the design trends and challenges that informed the manner in which she approached 160 West Canton Street as well as other projects on which she is working. "During Covid, people spent so much time in their homes that they really wanted to make changes and those changes are still very important. People want work spaces and flex spaces. Colors have also begun to change--grey was huge before. Now we are beginning to see greens, terra cottas and vibrant yellows.", she observed. "People are also more open to textiles with patterns that have a more traditional flavor. We are now infusing cultural elements from different parts of the world and from different eras.", she continued. There are also many challenges designers face in the post covid world. "We have to think about things that have the longest lead time. And then there is always the surprise that comes around when visioning a beautiful space and then having to design around mechanical HVAC or windows." Other considerations include budgetary imperatives and being mindful of which improvements will prove to be investment worthy. "We want to think about what will stand the test of time and be a value add so that when our client goes to sell their home, the investment will have appreciated."
For the fortunate among us, our work is also our passion and such is certainly the case for Paula Daher. "Some of my best ideas come to me while I'm walking down the street. We never know what will spark that next [inspiration]. It is my clients that I am so grateful for, in many cases, multiple times. It's terrific. I do what I love and love what I do." When both left and right brain skillsets are brought to the fore, the result can be inspiring and satisfying for both the designer and home's end users alike. The conception and execution of the design for 160 West Canton Street is certainly a fine example of how spectacular homes are created. Paula Daher clearly gratified to have been involved with this exciting project as its new owners are undoubtedly thrilled to be living there now and for many years to come.