This Tuxedo Kitchen in Boston Draws Inspiration From James Bond (2024)

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Reno Diary

Original bricks and beams showcase history while new appliances and tilework add polish

By Marni Elyse KatzPhotography by Joyelle West

This Tuxedo Kitchen in Boston Draws Inspiration From James Bond (4)

An unobtrusive linear pendant light over the island doesn’t distract from the historical elements.Joyelle West Photography

Not all mid-19th-century town houses in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood are fancy vestiges of bygone Brahmins. Such was the case for the 1840 Federal-style town house that Dana Levine’s clients purchased for their young family of four. They wanted the first-floor renovation to reflect its more humble origins. “We wanted to stay true to the original style of the home with its exposed bricks and beams,” the homeowner says.

In redesigning the kitchen and surrounding spaces, Dana indeed remained true to the home’s beginnings. Ironically, however, she drew inspiration from perhaps the ultimate sophisticate: James Bond. “The concept was for a tuxedo kitchen,” the founder of Arazi Levine Design says. A sharp black-and-white scheme, she reasoned, would create an elegant backdrop for and juxtaposition to the organic, textural bricks and beams.

BEFORE: The kitchen was too small, separated from the dining area, and the powder room door opened into it.

AFTER: Dana took down the wall between the dining room and kitchen, exposed the brick chimney in the dining area, covered some of the brick with cabinetry, and rethought the beams. “Only every fourth beam is exposed now,” the designer says. “It was an exercise in portion control.”

Joyelle West Photography

James Bond became a character in the design, helping to inform decisions. There’s the vestibule’s bow tie-patterned cement tile with brass inlay and complementary geometric wallpaper. In the kitchen, which the homeowner describes as a cross between a London town house and a restaurant’s chef’s table, the matte black La Cornue range with polished brass accents very much channels the look. Dana paired white quartz countertops with black cabinetry, then finished with a marble slab backsplash. “We constantly asked ourselves, ‘What would James Bond do?’” Dana laughs. “It started as a joke, but it led the way!”

Location: Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood

The before: The entry offered no areas to shed coats and shoes, the dining room was enclosed and overlarge, and the kitchen had an angled peninsula jutting into it and a view of the toilet. “The flow was awkward and there was no sense of arrival,” Dana says.

BEFORE: The formal dining room did not fit the family’s lifestyle, and drywall covered the brick of the fireplace.

AFTER: The team removed the drywall that obscured the brick fireplace in order to establish symmetry. “The brick chimneys are the anchoring points in the newly joined space,” Dana says.

Joyelle West Photography

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The inspiration: Dana also took cues from the restaurant in Hotel Montefiore, a 12-room boutique hotel located in a preserved historic building in Tel Aviv. “The black cabinets, reeded glass doors, and green countertops came to mind when thinking tux and chic,” she says.

Square footage: 400 square feet

Budget: $150,000 to $200,000

AFTER: The marble backsplash is the focal point of the space and reeded glass lends an airy feel while still providing some coverage.

Joyelle West Photography

Main ingredients

Floors: The team patched and refinished the existing floor in a slightly darker, warmer stain.

Cabinets: Crown Point Cabinetry in Tricorn Black by Sherwin-Williams

Range: La Cornue

Sconces: Four Hands Odyssey wall sconces

Stools: Audo Copenhagen stools

Dining table: Astraea pedestal table

AFTER: Dismantling the wall between the prior formal dining room and the kitchen allowed Dana to expand the kitchen, as well as unite the cooking space with the eating area, which is also used for homework, family game nights, and gathering with friends. The shades’ black trim continues the lines of the new windows and shows off the original moldings.

Joyelle West Photography

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Banquette: West Elm

Dining chairs: Note Design Studio leather side chairs

Artwork on fireplace mantel: Framed reproduction of an oil painting from CB2

Bathroom faucet: Waterworks

Bathroom sink: Kohler

Bathroom floor tile: Artistic Tile Tappeti red blend mosaic

Bathroom paint color: Brinjal by Farrow & Ball

AFTER: Dana created a proper vestibule as a buffer between the street and the front hall and was even able to sneak in a coat closet, which the clients chose over having a pantry. “We have pantry storage in the island, which is a great solution for a city home very near to Whole Foods,” the homeowner says.

Joyelle West Photography

Vestibule wallpaper: Chloe Dark Blue by Sandberg Wallpaper

Vestibule bench: Ethnicraft Spindle Bench from Lekker Home in Boston

Vestibule floor tile: Cemento Bow Tie cement tile

Vestibule ceiling light: Rejuvenation Crawford flushmount light

AFTER: The La Cornue range was the first thing ordered for the redesign and the former pizza oven is now a coffee niche.

Joyelle West Photography

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Most insane splurge: The homeowners had been eyeing the La Cornue range, and were delighted when Dana suggested it. “The French aesthetic works with the tuxedo concept, and, given their penchant for cooking, investing in a top-notch range made sense,” the designer says. The marble backsplash was pricey too, so they offset the cost by using quartz for the countertops.

Sneakiest save: The biggest save, however, came from forgoing the custom banquette in favor of a modular system from West Elm. It cost $4,100, just one third of the price of the bespoke option. “It’s supercomfortable, chic, and matches the specific dimensions of the nook to the inch!” Dana says.

The best part: Celebrating the charm of this 1840 brownstone by leaning into the intricacies and occasional quirks of the existing conditions, which served as a guide.

What I’d never do again: “Nothing I can think of!” Dana says. “If I have second thoughts during a project, I try to address and fix them as I go.”

Final bill: The homeowners estimate that it cost about one and a half to two times as much as anticipated.

AFTER: The owners took their realtor’s advice to live in the home for a year before making any major decisions. When their four-year-old dictated his breakfast order from the toilet—the bathroom door opened into the kitchen—they knew it was time to begin. The new powder room is tucked neatly into a corner off a tiny hall that also leads to the basem*nt. Dana painted it burgundy—Farrow & Ball’s Brinjal—which ties to the brickwork. “Using a color that already exists in the original materials means we’re not really adding another color,” she says.

Joyelle West Photography

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This Tuxedo Kitchen in Boston Draws Inspiration From James Bond (2024)
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