It’s hard to describe the living areas of Boody and Remy Fransen’s State Street home without reaching for the word “not”: not cluttered, not stuffy, not overly formal, not cliché. “A neighbor recently walked through and said, ‘My, it looks so lived in,’ ” says Boody, smiling at what she supposed had been a criticism, “and I said, ‘Thank you.’”
After 30 years, Boody (her given name is Eugenie) should know all there is to know about living in this particular space, an early 20th-century colonial revival double that was converted into a single years before she and her husband bought it in 1974. In its most recent (2003) transformation, Boody reenergized the double-parlor living room by updating the curtains and upholstery and adding a few key furnishings. But those changes only underscored the choices Boody has been making for years, pulling an eclectic collection that includes a lucite-and-glass dining table, artwork by Martin LaBorde and George Dureau, and French antiques and statuary even more solidly together.
“The living room was more leggy,” says interior designer Alix Rico, who has consulted with Boody over the last 10 years, of the previous design scheme. That arrangement, which Rico also helped fashion, created a formal feel through neutral tones, balloon shades and Chippendale furnishings. This time around, Boody was ready for a softer feel that would be grandchild-friendly and sophisticated at the same time. To achieve that, Rico replaced the Chippendale with a modern, 84-inch Century sofa upholstered in pale Botticelli velvet and flanked that with a pair of Kisabeth slipper chairs upholstered in champagne damask. The three together offset the warm tones of the 9-foot by 12-foot Turkish Oushak rug that Boody bought at a Magazine Street merchant’s liquidation sale. Two French side chairs upholstered in peach and brown “Stardust” silk from Jim Thompson strike a playful note, while luxurious antelope silk taffeta curtains with a wide ginger border fall from a loose ruffle at each of the room’s four windows to cast a spell of simple luxury over the whole composition.
Boody waves off the word “decorating” as overwrought and eschews far-flung sources. She simply buys what she likes, with most of her discoveries coming from Magazine Street or from places where she and her husband Remy have traveled. A gallery in Aspen, Co., yielded the charming 1894 Jules Chéret lithograph “Madame St.-Gene” that focuses the living room seating area. In the dining room, a pair of Mario Villa metal chairs sit at the head and foot of the glass-topped table, while eight French side chairs, recently reupholstered in warm-white, woven linen with a subtly patterned gold-on-white Fortuny fabric on the reverse, complete the seating. The Louis XV buffet (c. 1790) and the Louis Philippe mirror (c. 1840) above it both came from Wirthmore Antiques. Across the room, a compelling rust-colored angel painted on seamed canvas by Alabama artist Arthur Price was created for the space after Boody discovered the artist’s work at the home of friend Molly Reily. A contemporary fixture of curving copper wire graced with a single strand of crystals, found at Carole Simone Interior Design, crowns the dining area. Another work by Price—also an angel—hangs on the bottom landing of the stairs in the spacious entrance hall, a clean-limbed space anchored by a bone Tufenkian rug.
The whole floor plan works to channel traffic during family visits and special occasions. Grandchildren make a beeline from the front door to the airy back den, a stone-floored, indestructible-feeling space that opens to the pool. The breakfast room that bridges the kitchen and the dining room adapts to different occasions, with its French provincial table serving as a buffet during family Thanksgiving and a bar on Christmas Eve. Despite the lack of clutter, family is a constant theme throughout the home. Photos of grandchildren beam down from a bookshelf in the breakfast room, while silver-framed portraits of four generations—Boody’s grandparents and parents, wedding photos of her and Remy, and photos of their four children—Remí, Rebecca, Chris and Matt—are neatly arranged on top of the Mason and Hamlin piano at the far end of the living room.
Seated in view of the two bookshelves that rise to the coved ceiling on either side of the living room fireplace, it’s impossible not to note that the two arches leading into the hallway and the dining room are fraternal rather than identical twins: one is rectangular, the other a wide rounded arch, though they have the same dimensions. It’s an apt combination for a house in which so many scrupulously chosen objects come together, despite their origin in different continents and different times.
“I love that myself, mixing periods,” says Rico. “Anything else can look like a stage set. Everything you like will really go together in the end.”
In the breakfast room, the French provincial table is set with blue and white Meissen china. Satsumas made for a nice table adornment, and can be eaten for dessert
A glass and lucite table, surrounded by Mario Villa metal chairs and French side chairs, is the centerpiece of the dining room. The rust-colored angel painted on seamed canvas was created for the space by artist Arthur Price.