Launch Slideshow

speaking volumes

In a Boston loft the firm dubbed "Urban Living XXL," this kitchen/great room serves as the central gathering place.

speaking volumes

In a Boston loft the firm dubbed "Urban Living XXL," this kitchen/great room serves as the central gathering place.

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    John Horner

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    John Horner

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    John Horner

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Architect Bradford C. Walker, AIA, LEED AP, calls this Boston penthouse loft “Urban Living XXL.” And with 18-foot ceilings and nearly 5,000 square feet of floor area, it lives up to the name. “It’s a true loft,” Walker says—“a big, open, light-filled space, not just a studio apartment being marketed as a loft.” On his first tour of the unfinished premises, the architect decided, “We should play that up … make it feel empty in some ways.”

The resulting build-out celebrates sheer volume with a kitchen/living/dining room Walker describes as resembling “a big Italian courtyard. Everything opens off of that space.” A long wall clad in Koto wood panels forms the inboard boundary of the room. “The kitchen kind of embeds itself into that wall,” says Walker, who set the area apart from its wood surround with a grayscale palette of stone counters, laminate cabinets, and stainless steel appliances and accents. Dark-stained bamboo floors underscore the room’s scale.

The island—a folded plane of figured Ice Flower soapstone that wraps a bank of laminate cabinets—offers a dramatic stage for entertaining at home, and its 20-foot length accommodates ensemble productions. “You can have three or four people helping you prepare a meal if you want,” Walker observes. But the island’s scale doesn’t overwhelm its setting. “It’s a big thing in a big space, and it allows the kitchen to work very informally in this loft setting.”

Informally, yes, but with a hidden assist when necessary. A panel in the sink wall hinges for access to a butler’s pantry with its own sink, refrigerator, and dishwasher. “When it’s closed, you don’t understand it’s a door at all,” which makes for seamless party service, he notes. “You can actually do catered things out of that back pantry.” A second secret door opens from the kitchen into the wine cellar.

project: Urban Living XXL, Boston
architect: Ruhl Walker Architects, Boston, with Arclinea Boston
general contractor: Sleeping Dog Properties, Boston
resources: bathroom fittings: Hudson Reed; bathroom fixtures: DuPont (Corian), Duravit USA, WETSTYLE; cabinets: Arclinea Boston; countertops: Cumar; dishwasher and oven: Miele; kitchen fittings and fixtures: Blanco; lighting fixtures: Cooper Lighting (Halo), LBL Lighting, Progress Lighting; paints/stains/wall finishes: Benjamin Moore & Co.; refrigerator: Sub-Zero