This light-filled 4,131-square-foot, three-bedroom triplex penthouse has a full townhouse feel all the way from its front-facing master suite to its open-concept living-dining-kitchen level to its family-room with private roof deck, outdoor kitchen and gorgeous city view.

Tired of condos that feel like rooming houses and homeowners’ associations that look like cities of strangers? Well, the newly renovated penthouse triplex unit at 212 Commonwealth Ave. in the Back Bay provides an antidote to each.

This light-filled, 4,131-square-foot, three-bedroom triplex penthouse has a full townhouse feel all the way from its front-facing master suite to its open-concept living-dining-kitchen level to its family-room with a private roof deck, outdoor kitchen and gorgeous city view. It is one of only two units in the building, enabling you to share common concerns with a neighbor rather than a committee.

The brownstone-trimmed brick building provides a neighborly welcome home as well. Built in 1879-1880 by Vinal & Dodge in a French Academic rowhouse design by Peabody & Stearns (architects of the Custom House Tower), it handsomely projects its townhouse image with scrolled brackets and an oriel window with scrolled urn-topped pediment. Brick pilasters and corbelled cornices grace the penthouse unit’s first-floor bedroom level.

Choo & Company of Quincy and Anthony Catalfano Interiors of Boston created a classically trimmed, open-concept renovation that honors the building’s history while catering to contemporary tastes for space, light and privacy.

The family-room loft is invisible from the street, set back to conform to the Back Bay Architectural Commission’s guidelines. It provides generous front-deck space.

The tastefully-trimmed common stairway hall is convenient for visiting your downstairs neighbor and accessing your two deeded parking spaces in the brick-paved rear court. It also provides direct elevator access to your unit’s first and second floors so you can go right home to bed or your guests can go straight into the dining and living rooms.

The bedroom level offers a warm welcome with one of several white oak floors throughout the unit, ample wall space for art and a common bath with a subway-tiled shower and herringbone marble-tiled floor down the hall.

The laundry closet with the Electrolux side-by-side washer and dryer under a sorting counter faces the elevator. The stairway to the common level is at hand on the left and the master suite is on the right.

The spacious northwest-facing master bedroom lets you wake up to a picturesque view of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall from two windows. Additional light pours in through a transom over the door to the master bath, which continues the view from this level’s third window.

The master bath - a palace of ash-gray AKDO marble on the floor, walls and a twin-sink vanity - culminates in a glazed roomy shower/tub alcove boasting three showering options (overhead rain shower, wall fixture and hand-held), a soaking tub with designer faucet and all-marble walls – one in a tiled pattern of circles interlinking into quatrefoils.

The rear second and third bedrooms have sizable double-door closets. One bedroom has an en suite bath with a subway-tiled shower and herringbone marble-tiled floor like those in the hall bath.

The stairway and elevator take you to the second floor’s dining room so guests and family can come right in and sit down to dinner.

The central dining room separates front living-room entertaining from rear kitchen cooking while flowing into each area for both guest and host convenience. Also convenient is the adjacent mahogany wet bar, complete with glassware shelves and cabinets, wine-bottle cubbies, a long granite counter, a Sub-Zero wine cooler and a door to a large storage area that can be a “wine cellar.” Facing this is a handy powder room with a brass-trimmed vanity and a marble floor tiled in geometric patterns.

The façade-spanning living room, graced with picture-frame moldings, lets guests enjoy the Mall views, hear music from the ceiling’s surround-sound speakers, warm up by the classic gas fireplace resembling a traditional wood-burning one and peruse books, pictures or art displays from the flanking shelves before going in to dinner.

Informal dining or breakfast can be enjoyed in the kitchen’s generous eat-in area with a cabinet-flanked window seat.

The custom kitchen by Trinity Design of Dover, N.H. is well equipped for both imperial and informal meal preparation with Imperial Danby marble wall and island counters, Wolf stainless appliances including a six-burner gas range, a two-door Sub-Zero refrigerator with a freezer drawer and classic white paneled cabinetry.

The island has barstool seating, a sink with a gooseneck faucet and twin chandeliers with glass shades. A smaller sink is by the window between the range and the convection/microwave oven for quicker cleanup. All three windows have a rarity: mirrored reveals to augment the southeastern exposure at breakfast time, as well as the sense of space.

The entertainment continues upstairs in the top-floor family-room loft, courtesy of its full wet bar with shelves and a Sub-Zero wine cooler and the copper-paneled roof deck – courtesy of its deluxe DCS grill with Wolf cabinetry, Paradiso stone counters and sink.

The deck has room enough for al fresco dining amid a potpourri of historic Back Bay rooftops and radiant sunsets - with no skyscraper obstructions.

Offered at $8.9 million, Unit PH at 212 Commonwealth Ave. combines townhouse autonomy with neighborly warmth.

For more information, contact Glenn Forger of Olde Forge Realty at 617-293-2395 (mobile), 617-799-5818 (office), or


- “212 Commonwealth,” Back Bay Houses,

- Back Bay Architectural Commission, Guidelines for the Residential District, adopted Feb. 14, 1990, Bay Guidelines for the Residential District_tcm3-13458.pdf

- Bunting, Bainbridge, Houses of Boston’s Back Bay (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967), p. 425.

- “Peabody & Stearns,” Wikipedia, last edited May 2, 2020,