Classically modern townhouse in South End

BY BARBARA FORSTER/CORRESPONDENT
The living room area is gigantic, offering an incredible amount of seating space, amazing art-gallery worthy walls and an adjacent bump out that is piano big.

“From Bauhaus to your house” is more than a catchy slogan for this South End brick townhouse at 55 Gray St. In fact, the phrase defines the design philosophy that exemplifies this classically “modern” home.

Size is an unusual feature, too. Like most of the homes on this street, the townhouse had the small-scale front-to-back footprint, but as they were built 20-feet wide, the overall effect is one of spaciousness.

In a previous renovation, however, the back of the house was pushed out several feet. The result is an unexpectedly large 1,974-square-foot residence with three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and two half bathrooms, listed by John Neale and Bradford Sprogis of Sprogis & Neale Real Estate for $2,595,000.

A world of modern architecture/design of clean lines, exceptional use of space and extraordinary storage spaces are just inside the mahogany double-door entry and beyond a large, lighted coat closet. Although a spacious “parlor” (on its namesake level) has little decor resemblance to its 19th century roots, its purpose as a beautiful reception area is similar, albeit with a plus one.

Today, this space has a custom built-in credenza (this is the width of the room), topped with Avonite (a solid surface material) and a built-in window seat with a storage drawer. For additional storage, a large built-in floor-to-ceiling wardrobe is on an adjacent wall.

A sizable half bathroom with a pedestal sink is also on this level. The design in the frosted glass door panel echoes the classic modern decor.

On the street level, however, the 21st century takes over. Here, a dramatic two-story living-dining room has a soaring 17-foot high ceiling with two enormous skylights. Given the extension, the living room area is also gigantic, offering an incredible amount of seating space, amazing art-gallery worthy walls and an adjacent bump out that is piano big. A flush-mount brick fireplace and custom wood niche - topped by a cabinet that works well as a dry bar - are attractive, whether in or out of use.

The dining area is more intimate in ambiance, but not capacity. Set in the original floor plan and ceiling height, this space seats six to eight people comfortably, but, of course, can expand exponentially as needed. A grand view of the living room is always on the menu.

Also the width of the house, the galley kitchen is long on counter and cabinet space with an extra-deep built-in floor-to-ceiling appliance (and more) pantry opposite open shelving above a cabinet. An extra-deep utility/storage closet is at one end of the kitchen.

In keeping with the “storage” theme that is one hallmark of this home, a deep closet with open shelving on one side and utility space on the other is on the street level, too. For added good looks, terra cotta floor tiles are a cohesive feature, but practical is also addressed. Access to a private gated way and an in-unit laundry (full size stackable machines) are here, too.

Two generously sized bedrooms share the third floor. One that is currently used as a study has a full closet with sliding doors. These have frosted glass panels identical to others throughout the house. An exposed brick wall is a charming focal point in a spacious guest room with additional built-ins.

The shared bathroom demonstrates that everything old is new and it all works. For example, the Bauhaus-styled etched glass door panel and classic handles (these are installed everywhere) blend seamlessly with current styles of oversized grey subway tile used for the shower surround and on the floor. A bonus is that the bathroom comes with bathing choices. One is, of course, the roomy corner shower with a frameless glass enclosure; the other an extra-long soaker tub.

A wood-burning fireplace is only one highlight in the enormous master suite on the fourth floor. Another is the flush-mount custom wardrobe wall that stretches floor-to-ceiling providing a substantial amount of storage without detracting from the clean sleek architectural lines.

Skylights, however, are exceptional features in this grand-sized space. Although this room has two huge roof skylights, a row of 10 square frames in the ceiling creates a unique multi-window effect. On a practical note, the “windows” diffuse streams of incoming light into a gentle flow that covers the entire room.

Natural light also flows into the stairwell via an “inside” window overlooking the stairs. For complete privacy, the window has a door and can be closed as can the French doors to the master suite. However, as these have piano hinges, they are flush with the walls when open and are the ultimate space savers.

Making the most of storage continues in the en suite bathroom that has three almost flush-mount medicine cabinets. In addition to another skylight, this well-planned room has a huge two-person shower and a striking wall-mounted sink.

Beautifully maintained, including detailed attention to what you don’t see, i.e., the stuff that keeps everything working, this residence has thoroughly modern systems such as four heating zones, a Buderus tankless hot water heating system and central air conditioning. The roof flashing and copper drainpipes are four years old. Another modern perk is that a large single garage parking space at 75 Clarendon St. is part of the package.

One more, but certainly not the last, perk is what’s outside - a spacious roof deck with sweeping views of the beautiful Back Bay skyline. Keep in mind - the townhouse has a southern exposure.

Address: 55 Gray St., South End

BR/BA: Three bedrooms; two full bathrooms; one half bathroom

Size: 1,974 square feet

Price: $2,595,000

Taxes: $15,035.29 (with Residential Exemption)

Year Built: 1865

Features: Four-story townhouse with two-story fully open living-dining room area with wood-burning fireplace and 17-foot ceiling with two skylights; adjacent kitchen with gas cooking. Spacious full-floor master suite with multiple skylights, high ceilings and wood-burning fireplace. Two additional bedrooms with ample closet space. Custom storage on every floor. Roof deck with sweeping Back Bay views. Single garage parking space at 75 Clarendon St. included in price. Central air, new Buderus tankless hot water heating system.

Nearby: South End eateries, shops, boutiques and galleries as well as services along E. Berkeley. Storrow Drive and Route 93 are less than 10 minutes.

Contact: John Neale and Brad Sprogis of Sprogis & Neale Real Estate, 670 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02118; 617-262-1504

Web Site: www.sprogisneale.com

Details for 55 Gray St., South End

21196040007