June 1, 2023

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Your Dream House

Finally, a Family Room Design That Actually Appeals to All Ages

Finally, a Family Room Design That Actually Appeals to All Ages

In a family home, older and younger demands often battle it out for aesthetic supremacy. An adult rigidity yields to squidgy surfaces in the name of stain repellency. Or any evidence of offspring is squashed by a “look, don’t touch” preciousness. But in the case of this home in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, designer Carl D’Aquino and architect Francine Monaco, the duo that forms New York–based D’Aquino Monaco, blended the family’s needs without painful compromise. Look no further than the family room and study to get a sense of the home’s harmonious and exuberant mood.

During the year-and-change gut renovation of this Boston townhouse, the design team engaged in an ongoing “couture”-like confab to get a sense of the client’s wishes. “We love a dialogue,” D’Aquino says. “[The mother] wanted our first choices; she wanted our best; and she challenged us with ideas.” They determined that the family room and study would strike a balance between the boisterousness of the playroom, where the kiddos (and their toys) have free rein, and the propriety of the living room, where, as D’Aquino believes, children learn to behave around others. Think child-accommodating rather than child-proof, a space where responsibilities and leisure coincide.

A suspended sofa by Jim Zivic satisfies every boisterous kid’s dreams—and doubles as an artistic talking point. Soft side tables and ottomans from B&B Italia; ceramics on shelving from artist Ruth Douzinas.

“The family room loosens up completely,” D’Aquino tells AD, not that any room in the house is particularly staid. Fabrics were selected to withstand juice spills and roughhousing. “Bean-baggish” side tables from B&B Italia are soft-edged and sculptural, and the hexagonal rug from Jamie Stern is textural, ready for anyone to plop down and watch TV. Nothing too precious here. Thinking ahead to bitter Boston winters, he and Monaco aimed to incorporate “as much sun as possible.” A hammock by Jim Zivic fits up to four people, and when the full-width windows are open? It’s practically like being outside. Leafy plants amid walnut shelving impart a warm, earthy element, and the bright reflectivity of the walls, lacquered in blue—a personal favorite color of the mother’s—plays up the natural light.

All the hallmarks of a study—walnut library shelving (custom-designed by D’Aquino Monaco) and comfy seating (Eames chairs in Liberty Blue leather)—are invigorated with the geometric playfulness of a Charlotte Perriand Ventaglio table and Flashwood pendant light by Mariero Group.

The adjoining study pulls double duty as an office and homework nerve center. Foundational classics like Eames chairs and, of course, a well-stocked library, temper the punchy spirit (more glossy walls!) of the occupationally oriented room—as does the living wall element that originates in the family room. While there are no paintings on the walls, the geometry of the Masiero Group chandelier illuminating a three-part Charlotte Perriand table engages and captivates all the same. With growing kids in the mix, the energy in the home is kinetic and infectious. “You can’t be depressed in this house,” D’Aquino says. “I fall in love with every piece we ever use. You always think ‘I could live here.’”

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