Decorating A Dreamhouse - Boston Back Bay Brownstone (Cont'd) With Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad In Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Written By: Patricia Lynne

Editor: Sarahjoy Crain

In my current SB Journal entry "Decorating A Dreamhouse," I'm imagining that I'm living in a vintage, Victorian-style, brownstone,like this one, in Boston's Back Bay.  Lovin' It!

Architecturally the area is dominated by elegant, Victorian-style brownstone buildings. It's definitely upscale, the Back Bay and neighboring Beacon Hill, are all a part of the prestigious Back Bay of Boston, Massachusetts.  La dee dah, I'm livin' the sweet life! 

Bostonians Reclaim Back Bay Area And Incorporate Economic Development

However, at low water, part of the bottom of the bay was exposed, exposing just a foul-water, back bay site.
One could only imagine what the "Back Bay Area" was like prior to the 19th century. The Bay was literally, as with much of the New England coast, very tidal, with water rising and falling several feet over the course of the day.
The Back Bay was reclaimed through: bringing in fill from Needham and 'back filling the tidal area' was completed ~ and ~ with an extensive economic development plan based on a successful renovation plan in Paris, commissioned by Napoleon III.
Bostonians turned water into clearly one of the most efficient residential areas of New England.

The Back Bay Neighborhood Today
The Back Bay's main thoroughfares emphasize order, with strict regulations producing a uniform and well-integrated architecture, consisting mostly of dignified three- and four-story residential (or once-residential) brownstones. Thoroughfares of Back Bay are wide, parallel, tree-lined avenues and more homogeneous architectural styles. Five east and west corridors run the length of the Back Bay.

The area is well known for its plush shopping areas, and as well as being the home of the Berklee College of Music. The Back Bay is dense with luxury hotels including:

The Lenox Hotel
The Colonnade Hotel
The Westin Copley Place
The Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel,
and - the largest hotel - The Boston Marriott Copley Place

The Copley Square area is close to the Back Bay railroad terminal, and is the eastern nexus of a system of hotels and shopping centers connected by a set of glassed-in pedestrian overpasses. The large Copley Place mall includes the first Neiman Marcus opened in the New England area. These overpasses extend over half a mile to the Prudential Tower and the shops surrounding it.

The 52-story Prudential Tower (known to locals as "the Pru"), thought a marvel in 1964, is now considered an eyesore by some. The Prudential Skywalk, a 50th floor observation deck, is however currently the highest observation deck in New England that is open to the public and offers views of Back Bay, Boston, and surrounding areas. Inside the Pru Building is an urban shopping mall and a Roman Catholic chapel.
The John Hancock Tower which rises to 60 stories and is Boston's tallest building, is located a few blocks away. Recently completed high rises nearby include 111 Huntington Avenue (36 stories, completed in 2002), and the Clarendon (32 stories, completed in 2009). (Boston Back Bay District Data Source: Wikipedia.)

Getting Around The Boston Back Bay

You can have access to anywhere in Boston and its suburbs via the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), but I've found walking is by far the best way to enjoy:

  • the absolutely-delicious shops of Newberry Street (for those of you who are from the West Coast, think Rodeo Drive with major spots of art (of the very avant-garde style)
  • the excellent architecture of Commonwealth Avenue - ranging from chiseled, grand churches to a par excellence collection of gargoyles (don't you love the dichotomy!)
  • first class commercial shops and centers on Boyleston Street like voluptuous Copley Square and a range of restaurants to meet every gustatory delight
  • a quick walk west is crackerjack fun - the major avenues join at Kenmore Square and Fenway Park, the oldest venue used by a professional sports team in the United States (and home of the Boston Red Sox - "Go Red Sox!" )

We're going inside now so please join me as I write in my SB Journal on Decorating My Dreamhouse interiors of my Back Bay Victorian Style Brownstone. My home.

My Dreamhouse Boston Back Bay Formal Entryway

"In a picture I want to say something comforting."  Vincent Van Gogh ~

I also want to say comfort in my surroundings. In my home's entryway - the sense of touch, tactile, materials, forms, shapes are on display for enjoyment. It's part of our home's nurturing, measured out in sophisticating style.

The Channel Bench, made of a non-porous material, is in use here as a table and topped with an unusual but elegant wood sculpture and glass vase of flowers.

Under the table is a truly standout piece - the Kargo Bench - check out its hand-crafted, woven leather with top stitching. Both the Channel Bench and Kargo Bench are available from Powell and Bonnell. (P.S. Do you not love the funky, natural-wreaths being displayed as major wall art?)

My Boston Back Bay Dreamhouse Living Room 

The tall white leather chair was my first pick for this room. I was charmed by its lines, both traditional and contemporary in one piece. The round Strata Side Table is transitional in style but I really like that this Side Table, in a small amount of space, gives me room to display many of my favorite things, which is of great importance to me. Mirror is 42" square, iron framed floating, with inward and outward slanting reflective panes, Echo & Ricochet.

When I am designing, I always endeavor to display things that I love - special books, a vase that makes me feel good because it originates from a country I want to visit, etc. (For more design-concepts info regarding displaying items, click here "Objects Come Alive With Energy.")

Despite the large number of items in this room, it isn't cluttered. Guests are naturally captivated by this room. They like the desk set (which is really an Avenue Chair with its tapered wood legs pulled up to the Mirage Table, which has a cool floating glass top and also has tapered wood legs). They also tend to like the small benches such as the wooden structure bench next to the Kudo Chair and the natural-woven, small, black benches in front of the round side table. Good design stirs energy and/or causes emotion - such as the feeling that is created when momentarily, in our hearts, we're little children who want to sit on all of the fun and whimsical seating spots. These pieces are also available from Powell And Bonnell.

My Boston Back Bay Dreamhouse Dining Room

This dining room is so perfect because it is not elegantly perfect - this is a dining room that has a much more casual presentation. The table with its waxed antique top is absolutely "user friendly". This room is also stunning because it is sweetly proportioned. The style, the wood, and the scale of the legs of the table and chairs are all in harmony. Additionally, the chairs are practical because they are not too heavy in scale which would make them too cumbersome to move around. It's important your guests not feel that the chairs are immovable. The Milton Side Chair and Russell Dining Table are both available through special order from the Something Beautiful Shoppe.

New age philosopher Joseph Campbell is quoted as saying, "Awe Is What Makes Us Move Forward," ....... let's move onto the rest of the house.

My Boston Back Bay Dreamhouse Master Bedroom

Although designer Betty Burgess of Atlanta, featured in Veranda Magazine designed this dreamy master bedroom, I'm including it here (with minor changes) as ideal for my Boston Back Bay dream house.
I'm passionate about the process of passing through the various spaces of my dream house, luxuriating in the functions of the different rooms, enjoying the application of the varying layers of color, texture and form.
The bedroom uses luxurious faux suede from Yoma Textiles called Mockingbird, in the color Stone. It graces the walls, the headboard, the bedskirt, drapery, and seat upholstery.
Speaking of the headboard, is this upholstered one tall enough for you? This thoroughout is some serious glam'. But the room isn't exactly overly so - not too many pillows, the calming, muted-mellow color scheme, even the scallops of the linens have a nice rhythm and feel. The bedskirt is box pleated but still casual.
A bedroom is for the most part a private place. Create this area for your enjoyment only. It is a feast for your eyes, not open to the opinions of others. It is here that your spirit can be open - it is here that your surroundings should be what is most welcoming and beautiful to you. (Photo is from Veranda Magazine, April 2009)

Writing my "Decorating A Dreamhouse" is always a greatly anticipated job for me. The Back Bay of Boston, Massachusetts is an extraordinary venue in our own country. If you've not visited Boston and especially the Back Bay, put it on your must-see agenda.

I could so move to an elegant, Victorian-style brownstone building, in the upscale Back Bay and neighboring Beacon Hill, part of the prestigious Back Bay of Boston, Massachusetts. Couldn't you?

Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad In Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Bonus Recipe

A fresh summer strawberry and baby spinach salad with avocado and bacon in a raspberry vinaigrette that just screams summer - it's been a favorite of mine for years.

Serves:  2
Total Prep Time: 10 Minutes


1 5 ounce package baby spinach
2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raspberry white balsamic vinaigrette (Paul Newman's is good!)

Assemble salad, toss in dressing and enjoy!

Option: Goat cheese or feta also work well in place of the blue cheese.

Option: I like to throw in some fresh peas when available in spring.

Recipe Source: Closet Cooking

Want More "Decorating A Dreamhouse" Journal Entries? Click to read:

If decorating isn't easy for you or if you are in need of some particular interior design assistance, our designers at the Something Beautiful Shoppe will be happy to work with you - working with professional helps assure you get the look you deserve while helping eliminate costly mistakes.

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