Old-World Attitude

A designer brings continental charm to a Boston neighborhood.

By Lenore Cullen Barnes | Photography by Eric Roth
Pictured above: Using the homeowner’s favorite color, Wedgwood blue, as a starting point, designer Dane Austin created a dreamy living room with custom upholstery fabrics from Holly Hunt and Lee Jofa and custom light blue and ecru drapery by Kravet. A pair of antique Chinese ginger jars made into lamps flank the sofa.

Home is most definitely where Lisa Gosling’s heart is since designer Dane Austin transformed her new condominium into a warm and elegant haven. Cementing a new friendship was a bonus dividend of the project. When Gosling, a vice president at Century Bank, found a property for sale in Savin Hill, she called Austin, who lives in the area, to ask his opinion. He not only endorsed the neighborhood, but also signed on to help create the sophisticated, relaxed space that reflects Gosling’s British heritage, love of antiques and enthusiastic hospitality.

Designer Dane Austin and his associate, Aga Orlowska.

Working with a designer was uncharted territory for Gosling. “I thought Dane would just take over,” she says. “I didn’t understand that it was about what I wanted but didn’t know how to pull together.”

“My role is as your trusted advisor and guide,” says Austin. “I’m not here to pick colors for you, I’m here to help you pick the colors you love. We offer a bespoke experience, custom tailored to each client’s wishes. We don’t have a signature aesthetic, but a signature process.”

Gosling perused photos of Austin’s completed projects. “We very quickly discovered my tastes,” says Gosling, who moved to the U.S. from Great Britain in 1992. “I always earmarked photos with the same color, Wedgwood blue.”

“Lisa was drawn to things with heritage, that had character and were one of a kind,” Austin shares. “That worked well with this building, built in 1905. We played up the Old World charm.”

Austin describes the inviting living room as an “effortlessly blended mix of English and French country pieces with modern elements. The juxtaposition makes it interesting.” But, he adds, “Nothing is too precious. You don’t need to put a coaster everywhere.”

Open to the living room and kitchen, the dining room serves as the nucleus of the home. While Gosling originally wanted an oval dining table and Austin thought round, the solution came in the form of a unique hexagonal table. “Lisa was skeptical at first but I appreciated that she was willing to consider it,” Austin says. “It’s the task of the designer to nudge a client past their comfort zone.”

Wallpaper from Albert Van Luit & Company, a modern take on classic toile, imbues the space with romance, while the hexagonal dining table is perfect for dinner parties as well as game nights.

A bigger hurdle was the choice of wallpaper, which Austin describes as “a play on a traditional English toile that is modernized with a metallic finish.” Gosling thought it would be too busy, but she eventually trusted the designer. Chairs of different heights surround the table, along with benches that can also be used as extra living room seating or footstools.

Austin speaks often of trust. “My job is to bring clarity, creativity and confidence to a project,” he says. “Educating the client brings clarity; as the client learns to trust you, they become confident that you’re making the right decisions on their behalf.”

Since the pair have become close friends, Austin often enjoys the fruits of his labor. “It’s so rewarding to spend time enjoying the space,” he says. “Lisa hosts lively game nights at the dining table.”

“I’m beyond happy to spend time at home,” says Gosling. “It’s much more pleasant to be here than go out. I really enjoy cooking and entertaining. I’m proud of my home and love sharing it with others.”

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