Jae Joo breathes new life into this historic Boston brownstone without compromising its timeless core

JAN 8, 2021 | By Raashi Dev
The kitchen features restored butler cabinetry, Viking fridge, Carrara countertop, Hardwick white paint by Farrow and Wall, faucets by Lefroy Brooks and stools by Sawkille; Photographs by Shade Degges
The dining room is an emblem of rustic beauty; Photographs by Shade Degges
The Farrow and Wall painted surfaces are paired with artworks and antique accents; Photographs by Shade Degges
View of the green hued bedroom; Photographs by Shade Degges
The spacious outline of the living room opens up the space; Photographs by Shade Degges
The family room is bordered by bookshelves, artworks, cushy seaters and the piano; Photographs by Shade Degges

This 4,330 sq ft Boston brownstone is located in a historic 1885 structure in the city’s Backbay neighbourhood. Jae Joo exclusively crafted it to be a “forever home”. And keeping its timeless aesthetic intact had been the main objective, when it came to curating the finishes, materials, and architectural details.

Joo wanted each detail to feel true to the space. Another ambition was to open up the layout as much as possible, while intricately tying in the tones and maintaining continuity throughout.

So, just inside the home, a piano room is positioned to the left with cosy reading chairs and a restfully wallpapered foyer on the right. The parlour floor is kept entirely open so you can gaze right into the dining room.

The brick walls in this Boston brownstone add a sense of warmth; Photographs by Shade Degges

A corridor takes visitors past a staircase and a powder room with green wallpaper to arrive at the kitchen. The cooking space features restored millwork and a snug reading nook by the bay windows that overlooks the historical Boston neighbourhood. Upstairs are another living room with a mellow fireplace and a home office.

The home office’s old-world charm is synonymous with Boston’s architecture; Photographs by Shade Degges

Another flight of stairs to the second floor reveals the master and guest suites (while a guest apartment is maintained at the lowest level). 

This reading nook features an Urban Archaeology lamp, Pierre Frey fabric shades, De Le Cuona fabric cushion covers, floral pillows by The Apartment, and a Waterford whiskey glass on an antique cocktail table; Photographs by Shade Degges

The ambience is precisely constructed using soft, warm tones across the home, without having the space feel stuffy or aged. Fun, fresh accents like red seersuckers, floral and gingham patterns on pillows and chairs are added to avoid monotony.

The plush bed is laid with an array of accessories that spark comfort and joy; Photographs by Shade Degges

Joo says his goal “was to accentuate the historic beauty of the Boston home. Usually, I work with a lot of modern architecture and this project really made me appreciate the restoration process of building a home. I loved mixing and matching colours, and learned a lot about fabric and how to blend colours.” 

A floral wallpaper by Gracie Studio adorns the powder bathroom; Photographs by Shade Degges

The colour palette is kept simple, comprising mostly of blue and green hues. Ample wood is used around the house to add harmony, warm and textures.

Seen here are Pierre Jeanneret chairs, Apparatus’ Twig 2 light, a framed photo of the homeowner’s ancestor and wool rug from J Namnoun Rug Gallery 7. Partially seen are the desk from 1stdibs and Aerine table lamp; Photographs by Shade Degges

“The most challenging as well as the most enjoyable part was that we weren’t looking to rebuild it all, rather to restore it. Every step we took had to be taken carefully to maintain the integrity of the house. It was divided into many sections with a lot of added embellishments that needed to be changed. All the architectural details found intact were restored,” concludes Joo. 

Scroll to see more images from this Boston home by Jae Joo…

Restored and antique furniture add to the aesthetic of this Boston brownstone; Photographs by Shade Degges


View of the living room; Photographs by Shade Degges


Ample natural light streams into the simplistic bathroom; Photographs by Shade Degges


The piano is placed beside a bookshelf, near the entrance; Photographs by Shade Degges


Another serene, all-white bathroom; Photographs by Shade Degges