‘An HGTV experience’

Graphic designer showcases clean lines, natural elements in Brooksby apartment home

Created date

September 17th, 2019
Ahead of his move to Brooksby Village, Dave Lopes sketched a design for every room in the new apartment, tweaking the details until he achieved just the right look.

Ahead of his move to Brooksby Village, Dave Lopes sketched a design for every room in the new apartment, tweaking the details until he achieved just the right look.

Before Dave Lopes sees a project in real life, he sees it in his mind’s eye.

“I’ve always been a visual guy,” says Dave, a graphic designer. “I’ll sit and sketch out a project and then tweak it as the concept takes shape.”

Dave used the same approach when he and his partner moved to Brooksby Village in June 2019. 

“I made sketches of every room, and gradually the design concepts took shape,” he says. “Now here we are, months later, and it’s been incredible to see those ideas come to life.”

Dave credits Brooksby’s custom interiors department with executing his vision, giving a special nod to the enthusiasm of Nate Kennedy, custom interiors coordinator.

“The first time we met Nate, I showed him my sketches, and something sparked,” says Dave. “I got a text from him that evening. He was thinking about the design and the best way to execute it. That was the moment I knew we were going to enjoy a great collaboration.”

A three-year journey

Dave and his partner’s journey to Brooksby began three years earlier when they’d visited friends at the Peabody, Mass., Erickson Living community for Sunday brunch.

“Right away, we saw the potential in what Brooksby offers,” says Dave. “We’re into health and exercise and meditation and social engagement, and Brooksby has all of those things. We were living in a condo in Chelsea [Mass.] at the time and didn’t have access to those amenities. Not only that, but we couldn’t walk out our door and see ducks and ponds and wildlife the way you see them at Brooksby Village.”

The pair joined the priority list, putting down a fully refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve the apartment home of their choice so they’d be ready when the time was right for a move.

“Over the course of three years, we visited Brooksby for lunches and dinners, we joined residents on an excursion to see a show in Boston, and we looked at floor plans,” says Dave. “We saw and absorbed a lot about Brooksby during those three years and felt very comfortable making the move. We couldn’t wait to get here.”

The perfect canvas

When Sales Manager Gina Fernandez showed Dave and his partner a northeast-facing one-bedroom, one-bath Ellicott-style apartment, they knew it was the one.

“We knew it when we saw it,” says Dave. “Natural light streamed through the window. We loved the generous size of the bathroom. The layout was streamlined and efficient. It was just right.”

As all Brooksby apartments undergo renovation prior to reoccupancy, the apartment was a blank canvas awaiting Dave’s creative touch.

“For three years I’d torn anything out of a magazine that caught my eye, either from a functional or aesthetic point of view,” says Dave. “I saw a design by Nate Berkus, a wonderful white look with black accents that struck me as fresh and clean. I was also inspired by a trip to the Encore hotel in Las Vegas designed by Roger Thomas. I looked up in the elevator and saw an elaborate design on the elevator ceiling. It opened my eyes to the possibilities that exist on every wall.”

Collaboration brings vision to life

As Dave dug deeper into the design process with Kennedy, he wondered what limits, if any, he’d encounter.

“On some level, I wondered if Nate would direct me back to the three standard package options, which were beautiful, but I wanted to craft a look of my own choosing,” says Dave. “I never heard ‘no.’ Just the opposite. Nate’s enthusiasm for the project matched my own.”

Dave’s initial black and white inspiration morphed into a deep gray with buttery accents, with white providing an eye-pleasing contrast. He used paint to delineate unique spaces within the apartment.

“We carved out an office space in the living room, using furniture we already owned, and painted it the same gray as the wall to create a visual statement,” says Dave. “We repurposed a desk from Denmark to use as a dining table. All the chairs in the apartment are on wheels, so when we have people over for dinner, we pull up as many chairs as we need.”

In the kitchen, Dave opted for white, Shaker-style cabinets and 4- by 16-inch white subway tiles for the backsplash.

“Nate works with outstanding contractors,” says Dave. “They were meticulous in their attention to detail. They raised the cabinets an inch to accommodate the size of the subway tiles. They also worked within our budget. We initially considered extending the subway tile across a focal wall in the kitchen but realized it would be cost-prohibitive. Nate suggested we paint the wall with chalkboard paint and add open shelving. The result looks amazing.”

Finishing touches

As the big picture was coming together, Dave threw himself into the details, ordering light fixtures, mirrors, and hardware to complete his vision. He scoured Amazon, Walmart, IKEA, and Etsy to find just the right pieces to complement the design.

“I found these incredible reclaimed barnwood cabinet doors on Etsy for our medicine cabinets,” says Dave. “I love the idea that the wood had a life someplace else. They’re decorative panels, but there’s function behind them.”

In the bedroom, Dave repurposed two open bookshelves, placing them next to the bed to act as nightstands. He created a seating nook by the window with clean lines and natural elements.

“We use the seating nook in the bedroom for reading and meditation,” says Dave. “It’s another place to sit and be comfortable. We may have downsized when we moved from the condo, but we upsized our life and our future.”

With the apartment complete, Dave says this new chapter is shaping up to be more than he anticipated.

“It feels like a hotel experience,” he says. “I exercise every morning; the gym is fantastic. Then I have a coffee and enjoy the beautiful landscape and the wildlife. The people I meet are warm and friendly. It’s a great feeling.”

As for his “HGTV experience” working with Kennedy and the custom interiors team, Dave says it’s still a little surreal to see his vision come to life.

“This is exactly what we wanted,” he says. “We made it our home and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”