The Best Things Take Time: A Bright Boston Row Home for a Family of Four

By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

Abby and Jon Wyss know the importance of taking your time when making a home your own. Force the process and you end up with a poor facsimile of the space you imagined—one full of your things, but not a home that’s for you.

So when the couple bought this 50-year-old Boston row home in 2014, they chose to work slowly and meticulously. From a reimagined floor plan and a bespoke staircase to new flooring and a sofa custom-made for the space, not one thing in this soft, bright row home was made in haste.

Tile work The Wysses decided to flank the original marble fireplace with neutral, Moroccan-inspired tile

Demolition To mark the beginning of their enormous renovation project, Jon and Abby hosted a party to demolish the original stairs

Floor plan A completely open first floor makes it easy to keep an eye on kids seamlessly host guests

Kitchen Bright and happy colors make the Wyss home an ideal place for play

Making use of space The architect made use of every corner, even those easy to overlook—here, they tuck a home office behind the custom sofa

Entertaining A stocked home bar makes it easy to pivot between family living room and entertaining space

Custom furniture Nearly everything about this row home is custom, including this expansive teal elbow sofa

Transition Neutral walls and large windows open out onto a walled urban patio perfect for entertaining

Floor plan The Wysses had the architect open the entire first floor into a single, broad space

Backyard On the walled patio, line and texture play off each other in the form of wood plank walling surrounding angular stairs

Outdoor kitchen Both inside and out, the Wyss home is designed for family dinners and plentiful get-togethers

Outdoor dining Wood plank walls provide both warmth and privacy

Patio seating An outdoor sofa prolongs patio time and late-night conversations

Urban lawn Despite being in the middle of Boston, the Wysses still manage to incorporate a lawn into their walled backyard

Hidden playroom Underneath the living room stairs, the Wysses daughters enjoy a playroom perfectly their size

Color contrasts Light marble countertops set off the burnt blue cabinets in the most peaceful manner

Minimalist dining Another way to do minimalism—a gorgeous, loud, floral wall offset by a simple farmhouse table and a few candles

Bedroom colors The color continues to the second floor in this peach and teal bedroom

Color Contrasts More color contrasts between cabinetry and countertop spread the continuity throughout the house

The little things Little details, like the Moroccan-inspired bedside tray continue the loud patterns throughout the home

Kids' closet The playfulness seeps into the girls' closet with pompom garlands and colorful drawings

Cool colors The children's rooms are kept cool and soft, with fewer and quieter patterns

Subdued patterns When patterns are used in the girls' rooms, they take on a softer color palette


Boston, MA

Square footage



Abby and Jon Wyss bought the house in 2014 and live here with their two girls, Letty and Marlowe, and their English bulldog, Bubby.


Abby stays home with their daughters, and Jon works in finance.

A history of the home

As told by Abby Wyss

Our brownstone condo was added onto the others around it about 50 years ago. There are two units above us.

The stairs were the biggest key factor in this house. In fact, before when we bought the apartment, we brought in a contractor to make sure we could open it up and put a metal staircase in. This area used to be a huge closet that broke up the space. We then completely gutted the apartment and outdoor space.

The floors in the entire apartment were typical oak, and we changed to wide planks in a grey/white color. The back wall in the living room used to be closed cabinets, and we opened it up and added a bar and a computer station.

The fireplace was marble and we put clay tile in to relax the vibe. The kitchen had a small butcher block island and was more L-shaped with the countertops. We ripped it all out.

We hired a contractor to do all the work. He needed designers to help create the idea of the stairs so we hired out for that as well.

Why did you choose this home?

Our friends were going to put it on the market but came to us first. Jon and I knew we had to scoop it up with the Boston real estate market being insane. It was key with it being three bedrooms, having outdoor space, and a parking spot. Tough to find in the city!

Describe your architectural/decorating style.

Scandinavian and bohemian with a West Coast vibe.

Where did you find inspiration for the remodel?

Pinterest or my brain.

Tell us about a favorite memory here.

Our pre-renovation wall/stairs smash party! But really—having both of our girls growing up in this home is the best!

What do you love most about your home?

We love the efficiency of our home. It’s so open—no dead space at all. We’ve created something for every nook!

Do you have a favorite piece of furniture in the home?

Probably our couch. The designers [of the staircase] actually helped with it! It was custom-made to fit the space, with a slipcover for any spills from our kiddos!

Do you have a favorite room?

The kitchen. Our entire first floor is so open, which makes it feel like the floor is one big room. A couch in the kitchen—why not?!

What has been your favorite DIY project in the home?

We haven’t done much DIY, but both Jon and I have truly been so hands-on with creating each room.

In terms of true DIY, maybe the menu board in our kitchen. It slips over our breaker unit, which was such a sore sight to see when you walked in. We knew we needed something to cover it, and a menu for the week was perfect!

What is one project you’ll always outsource?

Painting! We have lived in many apartments (in Florida and in NYC) and we always painted rooms ourselves! Never again.

What advice would you give to other homeowners?

Take your time making a home your own. We have lived in other spots where we want to quickly fill up the space to make it feel like a home. But this home truly feels like us. We built it to our exact taste and have created a home—and it feels awesome.

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