Designer Michelle Gerson (michellegerson.com) wanted to go all-out on her sister’s landmark Victorian in West Newton Hill. But would she let her? “I helped decorate my sister’s last home, but she held back a bit,” says Gerson, who is based in New York City. “This time, she said she was excited about making edgier choices.” The siblings settled on a theme quickly: Victorian Glamour. “My sister is into buying vintage pieces, especially midcentury-modern ones,” Gerson says. As for the color palette, Gerson stuck to black and white with purple accents. “My sister’s favorite color is purple,” says Gerson. “We used a lot of it.” Purple makes an appearance from the start in the form of a dyed cowhide rug in the foyer. It’s playful and also practical thanks to its hardwearing nature.
The Phillip Jeffries metallic wallcovering on the ceiling, vintage crystal chandelier and curvaceous art deco-era mirror boost reflectivity and also establish the home’s star power as you enter.
The living room opens to the parlor, providing a gracious set up for entertaining. Gerson connects the spaces using the same geometric carpets and sateen wallcovering. A circular seating arrangement echoes the lines of the rounded wall in the living room, where a vintage Vladimir Kagan sofa holds court with a pair of vintage Milo Baughman chrome chairs sporting purple velvet crocodile-print cushions. Gerson plays up angularity in the parlor with a tailored custom sofa and a vintage Paul Evans cityscape cocktail table in polished chrome and glass.
The formal dining room, situated on the opposite side of the foyer, is appropriately dazzling. Gerson designed a table made from an amethyst and resin slab and a clear acrylic base as the centerpiece. Rectilinear black lacquer chairs with sexy cutout backs and purple velvet chevron-patterned seats surround it, and a vintage Austrian crystalrod starburst chandelier shines from above.
A swinging door leads to the kitchen, which is the hub of the home and the most dramatically decorated. When Gerson’s sister okayed black cabinetry with white detailing, the designer forged ahead with cement floor tiles in a large-scale black-and-white chevron pattern. The effect is electric. With two teens and a Labradoodle in residence, the tiles will patina sooner rather than later, a look Gerson embraces. “I don’t think everything in a house needs to be perfect,” she says. “It’s fun to juxtapose glamorous with rough.”
The bedrooms upstairs are no less bold. Gerson lined the floors with black-and-white broadloom carpet from Stark in animal print and geometrics. The walls are done with highly textural treatments—studded grass cloth in the master, cork in the boy’s room, and purple pony hair in the girl’s room.
“Being in the house is like being on a movie or television set,” Gerson says. “You know you’re somewhere special.”