We are always intrigued to meet and work with our counterparts who work in parallel, if not in concert, with us during residential sales transactions. From attorneys and inspectors to stagers, contractors, architects and interior designers, there are many people who must come to the table to pull off a seamless transition into a new home for one of our clients. We recently had the opportunity to work closely with a very impressive Interior Designer named Maura O’Malley on the sale of 6 Union Park in the South End.
6 Union Park is a 3 unit, brownstone building located in the 8 Streets Neighborhood, and arguably on the best street in South End. The building was converted to condominiums in 2017, representing some of the finest construction and finishes in the area. We represented the buyers of Unit 3, a sensational penthouse duplex that is saturated in natural light.
Our client’s offer was accepted by the seller early in the project's timeline, even before the unit was officially on the market. This one-of-a-kind home offers a contemporary, open plan living space spread over 2,330 SqFt on two levels. The 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath unit features an expansive, park-facing master suite, a cutting edge kitchen with all the best appliances like a 5 burner, Wolf 36” professional gas cooktop, Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers beneath the quartz countertops and custom cabinetry. The upper living area showcases a floating wooden staircase with glass railings leading up to a lofted den that spills out onto a private roof deck with views across the South End. The defining characteristic of the space, on top of all the impressive finish work and appliances, is the natural light that emanates from both ends of the building at all hours of the day.
We sat down with Maura to chat more about her background and her plans for this fine space.
Maura founded Maura O’Malley Interiors in May of 2014, and has since worked on projects all over the Boston area, and has been featured in publications like The Boston Globe. You can find more information on her business at MauraOMalley.com.
COG: Did you always know you wanted to be an interior designer?
MO: I knew I would be in the art and creative world. I didn't know if it would be more of an art history direction or if it would go in a more literary direction, but it was after college when I did an interior design internship just to try it out and I fell in love with it. As soon as I did that I knew that was the direction for me, so it was pretty instantaneous once I delved into it.
COG: What made you want to become an interior designer?
MO: I had an amazing mentor who basically took me along to everything, so I got exposed to every little bit of what happens on a site, and on the back end with sourcing fabrics and furniture, and working with clients, and basically just what it meant to be in the residential design world.
COG: How would describe your personal interior design style? Do you have any “signatures” you use in lots of your projects?
MO: I try really hard never to put the same pieces in multiple projects just because I really like to make it individualized as to who the client is, but I would definitely say I bring a more approachable style to design. I love using higher end pieces and mixing them with more retail pieces, but I love a home where every inch of it is used. I would say I bring that Philosophy to every job, that I really want it to be approachable and family driven, whether the family is one person, two people, a bunch of pets, whatever it is, I want it to reflect the family. My big thing is that I don't want anything to feel too precious, I want you to be able to sit on everything, walk on everything, everything should be usable.
COG: What's your favorite neighborhood or sub-neighborhood in Boston?
MO: I love the South End, everywhere is great, but I really love the South End.
COG: What's your favorite type of property to work in? Single family, brownstones, high rises?
MO: I love single family homes, for sure. Just because you get to work a lot with the indoor/outdoor dynamic, which is nice because you are not taking in just the home, but everything around it. But also, because of the South End, I love brownstones, I love the architecture and the history that you can get there, then juxtaposing with more contemporary pieces, I really love doing that.
COG: What are some of your favorite brands, or go to’s, that you can always count on for a project?
MO: A showroom that I love, who reps a whole bunch of brands, is in Belmont, and it's called Artefact. They are my go to if I need a cool piece, something that is more individual, I'll always go there, and always find something. Then, in terms of brands, I love Verellen for sofas, they're probably the most comfortable sofa you'll ever sit in, and Holly Hunt, i'm basically obsessed with everything that is Holly Hunt.
COG: What do you like most about being an interior designer?
MO: I love the direct impact you have on people’s lives. I love that you can hear what somebody is missing in their home, and then change it and adjust it so that they then have that. Then hearing from the client, you form these relationships that you have for years after the job is done, so I love hearing from them after the fact how they use the space all the time, or how it is completely different just by doing something so small.
COG: Who or what inspires you the most? Where do you search for your inspiration?
MO: I would say talking to the client would be the initial one, because I find each family is so different in how they live their lives and what they like, so it's usually within the first conversation of finding out what they're missing in their home, that is the jumping off point. Then from there, it's often fabrics, or textures. I love texture, so usually some sort of texture will drive me and then I build the room around that.
COG: When you are working on a project do you put emphasis on collaboration with the client?
MO: I really like collaborating, I probably drive collaboration more than other people. I feel like my job is to take what your style is and what you like and elevate it or show you things that you may not be exposed to. So I love to hear what it is that you like and push you a little bit, and learn where to push and where to pull back, more to kind of elevate that clients style.
COG: What are some of your favorite aspects of 6 Union Park?
MO: The natural light. I'm obsessed with the natural light in that unit, it’s unbelievable, to be in a brownstone and to have that much light on both ends of the unit is so rare. I also love the openness of it. The upper living area that flows into the kitchen, I just know how the family will use it, and I know that will be the hangout spot, so I love that.
COG: What are your design plans for the Unit?
MO: So it's interesting actually, the architecture of it is a little more modern and industrial, so we echoed that in some of our material choices like the fireplace tile, and even the backsplash tile. But the clients really like a more kind of modern farmhouse feel. So I think by tiling the whole backsplash wall as opposed to your standard 18 inches we started to bring that in. and then with our light fixtures and furnishings we will just play a lot with reclaimed wood and metals and also really cozy textures to get that cozy, approachable farmhouse feel but still reflect the industrial architecture that's there.
COG: What part of the unit are you most excited to start staging?
MO: The powder room is one of my favorites. I really love small spaces, so we designed that vanity, it was originally just going to be a pedestal sink there, and so we nixed that all together and put in this really beautiful mahogany vanity, and Vessel sink and changed out all of the plumbing to be brass instead of the polished chrome that it was going to be. So I'm looking forward to finishing that and getting the mirror in there, but I'm also excited about that living area. I think it will be really fun to create an over stuffed, comfy space for the family.
I also think the loft space will be pretty cool as well, I think it will be more of a spillover space from the outdoor space which I know the family will use all the time. So I can see us putting loungy-comfy furniture up there, maybe something more modern and low, so we don't block the light. Overall I am just excited to take the more modern architecture and transition it to a more farmhouse industrial vibe.
In part two of our post with Maura O’Malley we’ll explore the furnishings that she and the client chose to finish off this amazing space.