An apartment renovation makes space for music.

This project revolved around a seemingly straightforward if slightly unusual request: the client, an amateur pianist, wanted to create a music room for a nice new piano he was planning to purchase. Although the project scope would also include a new kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living space, the new piano was the priority.


A Grand Statement

Byggmeister's Solution

The client was planning to move into a row house he owned, and his original idea was to take down a couple of walls in the first floor unit to create a space with decent acoustics that could also accommodate occasional gatherings of musician friends for informal recitals. He figured that the remaining space would be more than sufficient to meet his daily living needs.

Because acoustics were important we asked sound engineers from Acentech to visit the site and review our initial design. After assuring us that our plan would result in reasonably good sound quality, they noted almost in passing that the ideal space would have higher ceilings and would be more like a cube than the “half a cube” we were dealing with in the first-floor apartment. Within minutes of driving away from the meeting with Acentech, we got a call from the client. “How can we raise the ceiling and make the space a cube?” he asked.

With that new mandate in mind, designer Josy Raycroft completely shifted gears with her design concepts. The first floor apartment would be left more or less as is. Instead, she started to explore the possibility of combining the second and third floor units by removing the front half of second floor ceiling, thereby opening up a 2-story music space in the shape of a nearly perfect cube. Thus, the project turned from a fairly straightforward floor plan modification of one apartment into a complete reimagining of the whole row house, with the client’s new Steinway D as the focal point. In essence, Josy and the client started with the piano and created the space around it.

With our client's musical needs satisfied Josy moved on to address his more mundane needs; after all, even the most avid pianist needs to cook and bathe periodically. Josy switched the location of the bathroom and kitchen—moving the bathroom towards the middle of the second floor where it would be convenient to the rest of the spaces, and placing the kitchen towards the back. The remainder of the third floor was transformed into bedroom and office space open to the music room below. Products and finishes coordinator Karin Mahdavi worked with the client to select subtle, understated finishes and palates for the living spaces so that they would esthetically support the piano room without competing with it. As a result the living spaces flow seamlessly from and back into the piano space, creating a coherent whole out of the different parts, kind of like a Schubert piano sonata.

Project Location

Cambridge, MA