NEW YORK STATE
These Manhattan clients acquired a horse farm in upstate New York and decided to build a house from scratch. We were commissioned to invent the interiors, and were involved almost from the inception. The gabled rustic stone house, with vast expanses of steel casement windows, was designed by Tasos Kokaris Architects, and is reminiscent of a country manor house designed for William Randolph Hearst in the early 20th century.
With an abundance of space to work with, the challenge was to create unity, flow and meaningful yet understated decorative relationships from room to room. This we achieved by concentrating on a repertoire of rich, resonant materials–artisanal plaster, cerused oak paneling, planed stone floors–and a muted palette of taupes and driftwood greys which, rendered in the pigmented plaster, achieve a subtle glow. Accents of burgundy, red and persimmon are provided by fabrics and objects. Dark wood floors and sisal carpeting and rugs assure continuity throughout the house.
The overall effect of these rooms is manorial, the reenactment, in 21st century America, of great country houses, both here and abroad. The public spaces invite entertaining on a grand scale, yet they never lose their warmth and dignified informality.
In furnishing these spaces, we looked to eras much earlier than his favorite late 19th and early 20th centuries. The scale and mood of the rooms seemed to demand a more massive, even rugged approach, with 16th and 17th century European carved oak chests and tables an appropriate choice. Interestingly, the use of these pieces from a remote time did not result in period rooms, but in an aura of timelessness. Combined with comfortable large sofas and club chairs upholstered in highly textured fabrics such as washed linen and chenille, the early pieces take on a new relevance, even modernity.
The living room is a study in soft greys and mellow burgundies, with sofas by Jonas Upholstery. The stool is 19th century, made from whale vertebrae; the tree-trunk table is of petrified wood, and the mirror over the fireplace is from Herve van der Straaten. The custom chandelier from Daniel Berglund is made partially from discarded jet-engine parts.
A custom daybed features a leather surround trimmed in nailheads; the mattress and bolsters are upholstered in linen, with an intricate Suzani textile from Uzbekistan for color. The lacquered steel table is designed by Konstantin Grcic; the delicate low-voltage floor lamp is as minimal as a lamp can be.
In the guest bedroom, diamond patterns form a leitmotif in the structure of the steel headboards and in the woven sisal rug. The chairs, by Thomas O’Brien, add a modern incarnation of the Arts & Crafts period.
A sofa upholstered in dark green chenille complements the grey of the artisanal plaster walls, adding textural interest. On the table, a Tibetan vessel in vibrant red-orange is juxtaposed with an ancient Greek sculpture fragment.
In the hallway, artisanal plaster walls in a pale cocoa offer a variation in palette. A massive 16th century Roman Renaissance table hosts an array of bone-colored artifacts, including a large stone lamp, pottery of various eras and a work on paper by James Siena.
The double-height dining room, with a library catwalk above the dining area, is a tour de force of light and shadow. Above the mantelpiece is a photograph of the interior of a cave by Jeff Whetstone, which, in tones similar to that of the cerused oak paneling, seems to have been created just for this room. The chairs are French, c. 1900, with their original leather upholstery, from Lucca Antiques. The enormous refectory table is custom; the chandeliers, vintage Sarfatti.
Warmth, informality and honesty in materials infuse the Kitchen, where open shelving holds white porcelain and hand-made tiles face the wall behind the stove. Other materials include Uba Tuba granite, stainless steel and cerused oak.
Rugged elegance characterizes the master bedroom, where the rug is of woven suede, the bedcover of handwoven raw silk. The sling back chairs are by Frederik Kayser, c. 1950. The antique trunk is Korean.