A Boston Home Filled to the Brim With Art

There are no blank walls in this Boston brownstone, where a couple’s shared passion for art is always on full display. HGTV Magazine takes you inside.

Photo By: Annie Schlechter; Styled By: Elizabeth Demos

Photo By: Annie Schlechter; Styled By: Elizabeth Demos

Photo By: Annie Schlechter; Styled By: Elizabeth Demos

Photo By: Annie Schlechter; Styled By: Elizabeth Demos

Photo By: Annie Schlechter; Styled By: Elizabeth Demos

Photo By: Annie Schlechter; Styled By: Elizabeth Demos

Photo By: Annie Schlechter; Styled By: Elizabeth Demos

Photo By: Annie Schlechter; Styled By: Elizabeth Demos

Photo By: Annie Schlechter; Styled By: Elizabeth Demos

Photo By: Annie Schlechter; Styled By: Elizabeth Demos

The Home

They’ve been enthusiastic buyers of art for 20-plus years, but Marni and Damon Katz haven’t exactly turned their Boston, MA, home into a formal white-walled gallery. Instead their 2,600-square-foot condo inside a Victorian-era brownstone is a kick-your-shoes-off space that accommodates all the realities of family life, plus a constantly growing collection of photographs, paintings and prints.

The couple’s relaxed attitude toward art goes back to 2003, when they bought their place. With the interiors in turnkey condition, they could concentrate on filling the rooms with no-fuss modern furnishings and whatever caught their eye at art auctions and sales. A mini reno in 2011, spearheaded by the firm Hark + Osborne Interior Design, gave the Katzes a bit more wall space for displaying their collection, but their laid-back approach to living with art hasn’t changed. “We just buy what we like and figure we’ll find a place for it,” says Marni. 

Family Room

A casual grouping of art, all in different frames, reinforces the easygoing style of the family room. Sized for lounging, the velvety Crate & Barrel sofa is the family’s go-to TV-watching spot. With two always-hungry teenage boys — “They’re constantly eating in here,” says Marni — a wipe-clean glass-top CB2 coffee table was a sanity saver. The wool rug, also from CB2, picks up the colors of the art on the wall.  

Breakfast Nook

The breakfast nook, where the family eats most meals, feels even cozier surrounded by floor-to-ceiling art. The banquette is upholstered in stain-resistant Carleton V fabric and Brentano faux leather, and a made-to-order walnut table inlaid with a herringbone pattern echoes the booth’s chevron print. Clear glass West Elm pendants don’t obscure the art, which Marni hung without any theme in mind. “I put up one piece I liked — the photo of the girl in the grass — then built around it,” she says. 

Kitchen

The kitchen had been overhauled by the home’s previous owner, so Marni kept almost all of it as is, including the custom cabinets and the cherrywood counters. Her two updates: new stainless steel appliances and hazy blue paint (try Warm Springs by Benjamin Moore) on the inset ceiling. “The kitchen is smack-dab in the middle of the condo,” says Marni. “Painting the ceiling makes it seem like a separate room.” 

Fireplace

Marni perked up the nonworking fireplace — and blocked chilly drafts — by leaning an abstract piece against the hearth. Balancing it out: a similar-size oil painting hung over the mantel that reminds her of family summers spent on Cape Cod, MA. 

Living Room

A 3-D wool rug from Angela Adams kicked off the palette in the living room. “I love the rug’s lush, storybook forest feel,” says Marni. For seating that would match the scale and mid-century style of the Crate & Barrel sofa, she scoured eBay and scored a pair of vintage Danish cushioned chairs on the cheap. The circular top on the ’60s coffee table, passed down from Damon’s grandparents, rotates like a lazy Susan. “We couldn’t put it out until the boys were old enough not to use it as a Sit ’N Spin,” says Marni.

Stairwell

Because there’s a direct sight line to the stairwell from the kitchen — and Marni is usually in the kitchen — she improved the view by hanging her favorite pieces near the steps. The curves of the vinyl pendant lamp from YLighting soften all the sharp angles of the frames.  

Exterior

Located in Boston’s historic Back Bay neighborhood, the red brick brownstone the Katzes live in was built in 1885. Although Marni appreciates the authenticity, she wasn’t afraid to improve on a classic. “Our first winter here, snow leaked into the bedrooms. That’s when we installed new windows.” 

Sam's Bedroom

Blue seems cool, not clichéd, in Sam’s room, thanks to a freewheeling mix of prints: dotted Pine Cone Hill bedding, a crosshatch IKEA duvet cover and a West Elm headboard slipcovered in an ikat Premier Prints fabric. The Karastan wall-to-wall carpet was an early purchase by Marni, after the family moved in and experienced cold bedroom floors for the first time. 

Master Bedroom

To banish any dreariness from the downstairs master bedroom, Marni layered on summery greens, including wall paint (Pale Vista by Benjamin Moore) and Matouk bedding. Gleaming silver circles on the Graham & Brown wallpaper help bounce light around. The square gray stools are from Target.