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Top of the Glass
By Marni Elyse Katz | Photo: by Michael J. Lee | April 2, 2018
A penthouse in Millennium Tower reflects a luxurious ease of urban living.
Designer Dee Elms’ clients didn’t trade up from a pied-à-terre overlooking the Public Garden to a penthouse unit on the 56th floor of Millennium Tower because it wasn’t working for them, but rather, because it was. The out-of-town empty nesters were so enthralled with Boston that they wanted to spend more time here. Bewitched by the brand-new 675-foot-high shimmering edifice, the couple purchased a 3,172-square-foot three-bedroom unit, ensuring plenty of space for visiting children and grandchildren. “The Boston design scene has exploded, rethinking the way we live and feel,” Elms says. “We’re excited to be part of the evolution.”
The city beckons from the moment one steps into the home, which Elms retrofitted with wide plank walnut floors, square trimless recessed lights and custom-designed 10-inch baseboards that speak to the massive scale of space. By delineating the foyer with a cloudlike ceiling covering and an artful brass pendant, and concealing the opening to the kitchen with a sleek arrangement of wall panels, Elms effectively funnels visitors into the main living space, where floor-to-ceiling windows present the never-ending view of the city.
A lustrous sapphire chenille sectional by Holly Hunt defines the seating area. It is anchored by a gas fireplace, which Elms relocated from a less conspicuous spot on an adjacent wall that now hosts the TV. The dark and light tones of the black silk marble and travertine echo the tension of its offset positioning and asymmetric floating hearth. The composition also provides prime real estate for Brooklyn-based artist Kasper Sonne’s vibrant splash of color. The black markings of the painting, rendered in ash, relate to the fireplace in both color and material. “A unit with so many walls literally devours art,” Elms says. “It is essential for personality.”
Venetian plaster warms up the 10-foot-high ceiling while an organic Lindsey Adelman chandelier floats across the top of the room. A trio of Holly Hunt tables in burnished metal, mirror and walnut lead the eye around the lower portion of the space. A pair of swivel chairs allows flexibility and a Lee Broom hanging hoop chair offers a fun place to gaze at the view. “I love the architecture of the double brass ring,” Elms says. “It’s a whimsical touch in a polished environment.”
In the kitchen, Elms specified pale gray paint for the Christopher Peacock cabinetry, picking up the veining in the Calacatta countertops. She traded uniformity for drama by declining the developer’s matching marble backsplash in favor of glamorous antique glass mirror tiles. Oil-rubbed bronze counter stools repeat the patina on the other side of the island, which is swathed in a waterfall edge.
For the dining area,Elms designed a banquette with an integrated steel shelving unit with a bronze mirror back that plays off the bronze base of the ebonized, maple-topped pedestal table. An abstract oil painting by Portland, Maine-based artist Elise Ansel brightens the neutral tableau with broad brushstrokes, while a triptych by Boston-based artist Bill Thompson pulls out corresponding colors. A vintage brass sputnik chandelier with white enamel shades bursts from above. Elms notes, “Pieces from the past inject a new building with a cool vibe.”
No room is cooler than the theatrical powder room, where wallpaper with an undulating pattern is a bold backdrop for a backlit full-length mirror. Elms swapped chunky fixtures for groovy ones—a free-standing tubular sink and glossy black toilet—hung a pendant of illuminated vertical rod and added a sculptural mirror she spotted in Paris last year. “It’s a bathroom you won’t forget,” she says.
The mood lightens but remains lyrical in the master bedroom. Sumptuous wool drapes tucked discreetly behind soffits frame the view. Custom cabinetry anchors the wall facing the contemporary leather platform bed with a channel-tufted mohair headboard, and a chair on each side of a spindly cast-bronze side table offer a private moment.
His-and-her en suite master baths (yes, there are two, along with three walk-in closets) are serene retreats warmed up with artwork, new hardware and lighting. In the wife’s oasis, a free-standing oval tub is positioned in front of floor-to-ceiling windows and an ethereal cluster of handfrosted glass orbs ministers a soft glow.
The design is practical yet wows at every turn, with a layout and furnishings that function equally well for the couple when they are on their own as when they are surrounded by friends and family. Elms says, “Good design means blending the energy of the city with a natural, comfortable way of living.”
Elms Interior Design
Master bathroom light fixture
Christopher Peacock Cabinetry
Built-in cabinetry throughout
Living room sofa and tables
Living room light fixture
Living room hanging chair
Master bedroom table lamps
Master bathroom table
Foyer light fixture