Perfectly Patterned: 5 Homes With Picturesque Wallpaper

Sitting Room

Few things transform an everyday interior space like carefully chosen wallpaper—whether classically botanical or bold, bright, and modern.

Silver Lake Jewel

Los Angeles Sitting Room
Los Angeles, California | Simon Beardmore, Sotheby’s International Realty – Brentwood Brokerage

On a quiet hilltop in Silver Lake, this delightful two-bedroom home features charming living and dining rooms and two versatile rooms that serve as office or additional guest spaces. Dating to the 1920s and painstakingly updated and maintained, it is filled with eye-catching architectural and design details, including exposed beams, roman clay walls, oak floors, a hand-painted kitchen floor, custom tilework, graceful archways, and distinctive wallpaper that contributes to the decorative allure in a number of rooms.

Colorful Prewar Co-op

New York Living Room
New York, New York | Jeremy V. Stein & Marc Fichera, Sotheby’s International Realty – Downtown Manhattan Brokerage

A skillful renovation of this “classic 7” in the famed Astor Court building respects its historic prewar aesthetic while adding modern comforts and conveniences. Highlights include a bright living room with handsome wood paneling and a wood-burning fireplace, a welcoming dining room with wallcoverings from Studio Zen, a custom-designed and -finished kitchen, and three private bedrooms secluded in their own wing along with a powder room with whimsical wallpaper from Voutsa.

Inviting Elegance in Houston

Houston Texas Living Room
Houston, Texas | Martha Adger, Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty

Exemplifying traditional elegance, this stately brick manor in the gated Houston community of Stablewood encourages entertaining with its inviting living spaces, multiple outdoor areas, summer kitchen, and heated pool and spa. Other highlights include a cook’s kitchen with an island, a family room, a generous primary suite, three guest suites, a study, a media room, and a versatile space with a full bath above the two-car garage. Intriguing use of stone, paint, wood, and wallpaper creates eye-catching surfaces and elements throughout.

Park Avenue Panache

Park Avenue Dining Room
New York, New York | Serena Boardman, Sotheby’s International Realty – East Side Manhattan Brokerage

Occupying the entire third floor of a distinguished Park Avenue building that dates to 1914, this immaculately maintained six-bedroom residence enjoys a desirable circular floor plan, sunny southern outlooks, and verdant treetop views. Its inviting public spaces—each of which is warmed by a wood-burning fireplace—include a generously proportioned corner living room, a wood-paneled library, a study, and a spacious dining room with classically inspired botanical wall coverings.

Uncommon Contemporary

 

Floral Wallpaper In Bathroom
West University Place, Texas | Vickie Driscoll, Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty

On a beautifully landscaped lot with a pool and an enviable outdoor kitchen, this striking four-bedroom contemporary home features an array of unique spaces, from an Italian-inspired kitchen, a glass-enclosed wine room, and a family room with a warming dual-sided fireplace to a media room, a handsome study, and a peaceful primary suite. Nearly every space boasts uncommon luxurious finishes, including superior fixtures and appliances, lacquered cabinetry, and distinctive tile and wallpaper.

Discover luxury homes for sale and rent around the world on sothebysrealty.com

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.


Fabulous And Functional: 5 Home Offices That Inspire Productivity

Aesthetically pleasing home office
For the busy professional, having a home office can be non-negotiable. These studious, aesthetically pleasing spaces in homes from East Coast to West boast designs that balance elegance and efficiency.

Upper East Side Sophistication

Manhattan home office
Robert E. Doernberg, Sotheby’s International Realty – East Side Manhattan Brokerage

High above Lenox Hill, this six-bedroom duplex condominium is flooded with light and revels in stunning skyline, East River, and Central Park views. Highlights include an open-plan living room with plentiful windows, a formal dining room, an eat-in kitchen, a den, and a gym. A corner office with two exposures enjoys an impressive panorama of the city that never sleeps, while the library has numerous built-ins and another iconic view. Four wraparound balconies offer further opportunities for appreciating the vista.

Greenwich Grandeur

Greenwich home office
Leslie McElwreath & Joseph Barbieri | Sotheby’s International Realty – Greenwich Brokerage

        On 8.23 colorful acres, this 18,954-square-foot Georgian estate is a majestic retreat. It offers eight bedrooms, formal living and dining rooms, a Smallbone kitchen, a family room, a wine cellar, a theater, a game room with a bar and concession stand, a dance studio, a gym, a batting cage, an elevator, a dumbwaiter, a five-car garage, a whole-house generator, a resort-caliber pool, and an outdoor kitchen with a pizza oven and three grills. The mahogany-paneled office includes an upper gallery with a striking brass railing.

Urban Oasis

Sunset Strip Home Office
Tyler Jacobs, Sotheby’s International Realty – Sunset Strip Brokerage

In the heart of Hollywood, this distinctive residence was built by the family of President William Howard Taft in 1922. Blending Italianate and Craftsman styles, it offers four peaceful bedrooms, a formal dining room, a solarium, a remodeled gourmet kitchen, a wine cellar, and an office with verdant wall treatments and French doors to the lush backyard oasis, which includes a pool, a spa, and a fire pit. The property also features a one-bedroom casita secluded at the end of the long private driveway.

Wine Country Getaway

Wine Country Home Office
Cheri Stanley & Jennifer Parr, Sotheby’s International Realty – Wine Country – Sonoma Brokerage

Abundant oversized windows and multiple decks allow for enjoyment of gorgeous wine country views from nearly every vantage point of this Sonoma estate. The 7.14-acre property includes a four-bedroom main residence, a guesthouse with a private entrance and driveway, a wine cellar, a freestanding art studio, two detached garages, and a hot tub. In addition to fluid spaces for living, dining, and entertaining, the home features an office or library with handsome wood built-ins and a wide sunny window.

Lincoln Center Luxury

Downtown Manhattan Home Office
Mara Flash Blum, Andrew Harris, & The Field Team, Sotheby’s International Realty – Downtown Manhattan Brokerage

Introduced by a stunning foyer with a sweeping sculptural staircase, this dramatic duplex perched atop Lincoln Center features a great room overlooking Central Park, a dining room with views of the Empire State Building, a bar clad in black marble, and a dazzling kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances. Opaque glass doors divide the primary bedroom and its en suite bath from the sizeable office, which enjoys its own enviable view. Residents benefit from direct access to culture, music, theater, and dance. Discover luxury homes for sale and rent around the world on sothebysrealty.com

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.


Natural Wonders

THESE STONES ADD A DURABLE, UNIQUE, AND BEAUTIFUL TOUCH TO ANY ROOM THEY’RE USED IN

The innate character, the unique graining, the colors that take their cue from the earth—there’s so much to love about natural stone. Using it throughout your home, whether iterated for countertops, walls, flooring, or accents adds a singular beauty that can’t be replicated. “No two pieces of stone will ever match completely, as veining and color are all made by Mother Nature,” says Gioi Tran, founder and principal designer of San Francisco-based design firm Applegate Tran Interiors.

Each type of stone has a distinctive range of natural patterns all its own. For a cleaner look, you’ll want stones with more uniform or solid backgrounds. For a complex appearance choose stones with scattered veining, says Mary Dimichino, senior designer at Bakes & Kropp cabinetry in New York. “The finish, whether polished or honed, also impacts the appearance of natural stone. It can transform a surface’s texture, color, and reflectivity,” she says.

And because of its inherent imperfections, natural stone is forgiving—the more flaws, the more interesting the look. But perhaps its most useful quality is durability. “Natural stone is hard-wearing and provides a durable surface for flooring, kitchens, and bathrooms while also relatively being easy to clean, hygienic, and nontoxic,” says Maneli Wilson of Maneli Wilson Interiors in New York. And it’s entirely environmentally friendly. “It does not require any artificial processes or chemicals for manufacturing, unlike many other man-made engineered building materials,” she says.

GRANITE

One of the strongest of all-natural stone varieties, granite is a low-maintenance option that’s heat- and scratch-resistant, making it ideal for outdoor and high-traffic spaces such as laundry rooms, mudrooms, and kitchens, Wilson says. Many types of granite are speckled with flecks of color, while others have veining and swirls similar to marble.

Made of many types of crystals, each slab of granite has unique coloring and veining and is often sold in shades of white, beige, black, blue, green, or gray, Dimichino says.

It’s great for kitchen counters and backsplashes, fireplace surrounds, and in tiles as a feature wall, Tran says.

 

Granite Fireplace
Granite adds a nice touch to a fireplace designed by Maneli Wilson.
Photo Credit: Chandler Pierce Architecture

 

  “While granite was looked down upon for decades, it is finally having a well-deserved comeback,” says Phillip Thomas, founder and principal of Phillip Thomas Inc., a design firm in New York City.    

 

Quartz Countertops
A kitchen designed by Phillip Thomas uses quartz. Photo Credit: Eric Piasecki

 

“I have had a number of commissions lately that specifically ask for granite. New discoveries in granites that have the same qualities of quartz and marble are definitely driving this resurgence,” he says. “It has incredible depth and texture and is warm underfoot.”

Before working with natural stone, Wilson recommends obtaining stone samples to check for color, or actually visiting the stone yards themselves to see the stone in person. “Color, veining, and natural characteristics will vary from slab to slab,” she says. She also suggests having any stone surfaces resealed once every six months to ensure longevity.

 

Luxury Kitchen
This kitchen is also designed by Phillip Thomas, feels as luxe as can be. Photo Credit: Michael Mundy

 

ONYX

A type of marble, onyx comes in varying degrees of patterns and a rainbow of colors, including popular hues like jade, mint, light pink, and warm tan.

Tran loves the glamour and translucency of the material and uses it for feature walls, bathrooms, counters, and even furniture. “The veining, variety of colors, and vibrancy make this material genuinely spectacular; it’s perfect to be backlit as either a feature wall, powder room vanity, or even under a bar counter,” he says.

“A unique attribute of onyx is that it’s translucent and can be backlit for a wow effect,” Wilson says. “However, the downside is that it is also very soft and prone to cracking. It should be used selectively to ensure it stays away from areas of high traffic and frequent use,” she says.

It’s typically featured as an accent. “Its translucent quality, warm color tones, and beautiful veining can be stunning in the right application,” says Donna Mondi, founder and principal, Donna Mondi Interior Design in Chicago. It’s pricey, “but perfect for a floating vanity or accent wall insert.”

“It is so beautiful and unique that it’s almost like lining your home in jewelry,” Thomas says. “I love to use onyx in bathrooms because it gives the space a warm, luxurious glow.”

TRAVERTINE

A porous limestone sedimentary rock, travertine has a uniform look and feel with its characteristic pores and pits gracing its surface. Depending on the variety of travertine, these pits can be small and sporadic or very large and frequent. The colors of travertine are more neutral than other types of natural stone, and they range from ivories and creams to darker taupes or browns. “Color swirls and waves throughout [travertine] bring energy to a space and lend a more modern aesthetic,” says Young Huh, interior designer, Cosentino Design Alliance based in New York.

Travertine can also be iterated in various finishes from honed and polished to brushed and tumbled. “It’s the most suitable material for damp or humid environments, cladding walls, fireplaces, and bathrooms, since it’s naturally porous and breathable,” Wilson says. “It is also a great choice to use around swimming pools and bathrooms and shower floors, as unpolished travertine does not become slippery when wet,” she says.

TERRAZZO

Terrazzo is a composite material that uses chips of natural stones such as marble, granite, quartz, glass, or shell that are combined with epoxy or cement. And it’s extremely resilient and durable. “Typically poured in place for floors, the price tag is high, but you can find many options of premade terrazzo in tile formats which are a great way to incorporate it into bathrooms and kitchens,” Mondi says.

With its wide range of colors and patterns, terrazzo provides an abundance of design flexibility. “Terrazzo is low maintenance, nonporous, and incredibly durable, making it ideal for flooring applications in both residential and commercial spaces,” Wilson says. Since it’s made of recycled glass and stone chips, it also makes for a highly eco-friendly material option, she adds.

And it can be customized to fit any color plan and precast into a multitude of shapes to create furniture and cabinets, Tran says. “Because it’s a composite material, you can mix in different colors and insert all sorts of stones and metals,” Thomas says.

“Based on 18th-century Venetian pavement, terrazzo has come a long way and can be custom poured, shaped, or even made into tiles that can be chic and elegant for inside pools and bathrooms,” Tran says.

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.


Haute Home Happy Hours

HOW TO STYLE AN AT-HOME BAR-—FROM CLUBROOMS AND COCKTAIL LOUNGES TO TAPROOMS AND TAVERNS

As if we need another reason to love life at home, the home bar is enjoying a renaissance. Haute happy hours are the new splurge.

For decades, home bars have routinely taken over basements, displaced spare bedrooms, and usurped garages. But they’ve evolved, says Deirdre O’Connell, chief executive for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. Bars are enjoying greater prominence in our homes. “They’ve moved from the basement to the main level,” she says. They’re now front and center in living rooms, family rooms, and busy hallways.

Imbibing in style starts with imbuing the space with warmth and hospitality. Some home bars channel the vibe of a favorite lounge, taproom, or saloon. Others take design inspiration from their surroundings. On the Gold Coast of Long Island, N.Y., the sophisticated yet welcoming bar of a Cold Spring Harbor estate is an open-concept entertainment destination. It includes a glass-enclosed wine room, home theater, card table, pool table, and even a massage room. “Anything you need to be entertained is there. It’s extraordinary,” O’Connell says.

Regardless of whether the aesthetic is playful, whimsical, retro, or dramatic, the goal is the same: to create a functional, flexible, and inviting spot to wind down with a glass of wine after a long day, or entertain a roomful of guests with their drinks of choice.

Good design enlivens the space, elevates the experience and is “reflective of lifestyle,” O’Connell says. “And that’s even more important now, when home has become a destination as opposed to just the place to lay your head.”

HARDING TOWNSHIP NEW JERSEY

Beechwood is a 30,000-square-foot residence set on 15 acres of private land in the secure hamlet of New Vernon, with features including a carriage apartment and pool house. Designed by WESketch Architecture, its classic “butterfly plan” provides elements of constant discovery for the observer and ensures the remarkable size remains a surprise for visitors as they make their way through it. Spaces include an oval-shaped great room, three-room wine grotto, and an English pub on the main level, the inspiration for which was derived from two copper pendants picked up on a trip in London. Bold selections of Jerusalem limestone floors, Roman-brick ceilings, cashmere wall coverings, and 13 imported fireplaces from Italy and Portugal, selected by designer Frank Delle Donne, are carefully woven throughout to portray quiet elegance. Located just 35 miles from midtown Manhattan, Beechwood is a work of art created with brick and mortar.

 

$22,000,000 | Property ID: 5DLJ7S | klsir.com | Kienlen Lattmann Sotheby’s International Realty | Go to property

 

          LAS VEGAS NEVADA

This is a stunning property in the MacDonald Highlands community, which offers seamless indoor/outdoor entertaining: A central great room opens to an expansive resort-style patio and pool with a swim-up bar overlooking the golf course. Another star feature is the full-size old world pub-style bar, perfect for entertaining.

Two grand primary suites and four all-inclusive guest suites give everyone ample private space. The carriage yard features climate-controlled garages to accommodate 11 cars and a recreational vehicle. This hotel-inspired villa is only minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, two airports, and an abundance of outdoor attractions.

This is a stunning property in the MacDonald Highlands community, which offers seamless indoor/outdoor entertaining: A central great room opens to an expansive resort-style patio and pool with a swim-up bar overlooking the golf course. Another star feature is the full-size old world pub-style bar, perfect for entertaining.

Two grand primary suites and four all-inclusive guest suites give everyone ample private space. The carriage yard features climate-controlled garages to accommodate 11 cars and a recreational vehicle. This hotel-inspired villa is only minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, two airports, and an abundance of outdoor attractions.

 

 

$12,900,000 | Property ID: SE4HKK | lasvegassir.com | Las Vegas Sotheby’s International Realty | Go to property

 

NEW YORK CITY NEW YORK

Over the span of a decade, Jimmy Fallon and his wife, Nancy Juvonen, combined and renovated four apartments over three floors to create an eclectic home like no other in New York City. Perched atop the southwest corner of Gramercy Park East, it celebrates the structure and architecture of that historic landmark while transforming the space into a unique home, with the original window frames, casings, and hardwood floors restored throughout.

With 4,950 square feet of space, including six bedrooms and five bathrooms, the pièce de résistance is the saloon room. This spectacular entertaining space features a custom-designed and fully equipped wet bar, with a vintage stained glass barback and a gas fire with stone hearth.

 

$12,500,000 | sothebysrealty.com | Sotheby’s International Realty – Downtown Manhattan Brokerage

 

NICASIO CALIFORNIA

A one-of-a-kind American Sukiya is available for the first time in bucolic Nicasio, West Marin. A labor of love, the estate and winery are a convergence of Japanese philosophy and California wine-country living at its finest. Consisting of a 3,000-square-foot main residence, a 2,200-square-foot guesthouse, a wine cave, a separate barn, and a 50,000-gallon spring-fed pool, West Wind Estate sits on 32 acres and serves as a functional winery. One standout feature is a 2,400-square-foot climate-controlled wine cave, the only one of its kind in Marin, that has 12-foot ceilings, a custom wine bar, an event space, and a prep kitchen ideal for catered gatherings.

 

 

$18,500,000 | Property ID: MGZJ9M | goldengatesir.com | Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty | Go to property

 

COLD SPRING HARBOR NEW YORK

Located on Long Island’s famed Gold Coast in the picturesque waterfront community of Cold Spring Harbor, this estate offers resort-style living in the solitude of 6.2 acres and a beach with mooring rights, yet is within easy striking distance of New York City. Every room is designed for elegant entertaining: a palatial dining room, an elegant living room, a state-of-the-art kitchen, and an adjacent great room with stone fireplace create an effortless flow. To wind things down, decamp to the movie theater or retire to the sumptuous master suite with fireplace, sitting room, private balcony with hot tub, and a pair of indulgent master bathrooms. When the outdoors beckons, there’s a pool with a slide and waterfalls, and a tennis/sports court.

 

 

$12,950,000 | Property ID: 3333174 | danielgale.com | Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty | Go to property

 

BOSQUES DE SANTA FE MEXICO CITY

The use of stone, wood, and metal as the main design components add an organic harmony and subtle elegance to this property, built by architects Bernardi & Peschard, with windows that open onto a forest setting. Among its features are mafi floors and high wood-covered ceilings.

The window walls of the open-plan living space, which includes a lounge, dining room, and bar area, integrates the inside with the magnificent gardens and extraordinary views.

$4,850,000 | Property ID: B7VJH5 | sothebysrealty.com | Mexico Sotheby’s International Realty | Laura de la Torre de Skipsy & Mariana Méndez | Go to property

 

SUNDANCE RIDGE ST. KITTS

The Sea for Miles estate is the embodiment of natural beauty, with views of the island of St. Kitts and the Caribbean Sea. Located in the private Sundance Ridge community on the island’s southeast peninsula, the 16,000 square feet of luxury living space includes an 80-foot infinity pool and expansive outdoor covered and uncovered seating and sunken lounge areas, which extend the entertaining space from within through retractable glass doors and shutters. The wine cellar and tasting room design is reminiscent of a 1920s speakeasy.

$16,000,000 | Property ID: FJY4X5 | stkittsnevissir.comm | St. Kitts & Nevis Sotheby’s International Realty | Go to property

 

BEVERLY HILLS CALIFORNIA

Luxury and tranquility meet in this captivating reimagined single-story four-bedroom sanctuary, situated behind private gates in Beverly Hills. Indoor-outdoor harmony is meticulously defined by the open-floor plan leading to a spacious pool and garden grounds. An artfully placed open-air glass atrium showcases a Japanese maple tree and oversized solid oak front door offering breathtaking curb appeal. The massive great room features Italian limestone flooring as well as high ceilings, both bathed in natural light from multiple skylights, and the bar area seats five.

$17,380,000 | Property ID: XG2MT4 | sothebysrealty.com | Sotheby’s International Realty | Sunset Strip Brokerage

 

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.


Squaring Away Your Walls

USING GEOMETRIC SHAPES TO GIVE YOUR INTERIORS A BOOST OF STYLE

When walls collide with geometric shapes, an uninspired space can suddenly have a strong point of view. Whether iterated as patterned wallpaper, mirrors, or artwork in shapely frames, the effect can be subtle or statement making. “Geometric shapes are very dynamic and carry a lot of visual weight,” says New Jersey-based Jennifer Matthews, co-founder and creative director at Tempaper, a line of removable wallpaper. “If they are small, they can add textural interest, whereas larger shapes create bold movement in a room.”

“When mixed with more traditional motifs, they lend a freshness to the designs,” says Los Angeles-based designer Stefani Stein. Meanwhile, the repetitive nature of geometrics lends an organization to a room, so there’s an automatic symmetry.

“Don’t be afraid to use geometric shapes, regardless of your overall style direction,” says Tulsa, Okla.-based designer Mel Bean. “An all-neutral space with limited layering of geometric shapes and patterns is an entirely different experience from a colorful, complex, extensive use of pattern and color.”

SHIFT SHAPES

Combining different shapes creates an interesting tension, Matthews says, like pairing oval sconces or circled mirrors with scalloped wallpaper and a diamond rug or bold-tiled flooring. New York-based Barbara Karpf, founder and president of DecoratorsBest, an online retailer for high-end textiles and wallpapers, recommends mixing different geometric patterns together when they have varied scales. “A small, tight pattern works well with a large open geometric—one pattern could have a touch of a color that is prominent in the other pattern,” she says.

 

Marimekko Wallpaper | DecoratorsBest
Marimekko wallpaper, from DecoratorsBest in New York, adds a chic geometric look to a living room space.

 

WORK WITH WALLPAPER

The easiest way to apply pattern to walls is by using wallpaper. “Geometric wallpapers range in effect from youthful to sophisticated,” Bean says. “The iconic Hicks hexagon wall covering is an elegant classic. And for a bold, modern approach, I love Cole & Son’s Geometric II paper,” she says.

“A wallpapered statement wall can form foyers from simple hallways, home offices from cozy corners, and separate dining areas from living spaces,” Karpf says. Keep in mind, a small, repetitive pattern works everywhere, whereas a big, bold pattern will work best on an accent wall, she says.

And, when considering color, generally, the lighter the hue, the subtler the experience, says Newton, Mass.-based designer Liz Caan. “Geometric patterns with high-contrast colors will always veer into bold and graphic territory, so be mindful when choosing your palette.”

Using geometric prints has another benefit: They can hide a multitude of sins. For one project, Manhattan-based designer Timothy Brown used a multicolor tonal stripe to hide some millwork he didn’t want to remove but also didn’t want to highlight. They also “allow you to control the direction and flow of a space, whether you want to cast focus on an area or guide the eye away from a less savory spot,” he says.

 

Tempaper Wallpaper | Alison Pickart
A bathroom with Tempaper wallpaper, a bathroom designed by Alison Pickart with patterned walls.

 

MIX MEDIUMS

Combining geometrics with other patterns adds interest and can balance out the look. “A stripe or geometric pattern on a printed grasscloth wallcovering can soften the crisp nature of a bold print,” Stein says. She suggests trying a variegated stripe, monochrome geometric, or tonal variation for a dramatic backdrop that won’t overpower the other elements of the space. Caan prefers to play with “opposites” when it comes to wallpapers, such as mixing a bold stripe or geometric with a floral. “When the colors are copacetic and the scales are varying—creating some relational value—the end result can have a dramatic effect, but one with a softer edge thanks to the floral balancing the sharp lines of the geometric,” she says.

 

Tempaper Wallpaper | Alison Pickart
A bathroom with Tempaper wallpaper, a bathroom designed by Alison Pickart with patterned walls.

 

THINK BEYOND WALLPAPER

There are other mediums in which to shape your walls, too. “Our favorite method, which introduces rich texture and architectural interest, is through applied moldings,” says Chicago-based designer Tom Stringer. “We’ve used a repeating geometric motif at various scales in applied moldings, and then again in other areas in carved screens to layer pattern and texture into a stark white interior.”

Stringer has also utilized painted designs, which he achieved by taping off patterns and then painting in contrasting colors to create geometric motifs on walls.

Geometric shapes, when applied to upholstery, help create depth, says Chicago- and San Francisco-based interior designer Alison Pickart. “I’ve used ceiling-mounted drapery in hallways that have utility and closet doors that needed to be concealed yet still be accessible,” she says. She also loves to use tiled geometric patterns, whether on kitchen walls or bathroom backsplashes to incorporate interest.

 

Geometric Tiles | Liz Caan
A kitchen designed by Liz Caan features geometric tiles.

 

STRIKE A BALANCE

“The biggest impact comes from either using them in excess or very thoughtfully in small, understated doses,” Caan says.

Brown considers every aspect of the room when working with geometric shapes to create an overall symmetry.

“Any room is a mix of geometric shapes—from added furniture to the decisive lines of windows and doors. Focus on the scale of any pattern or shape so that it all works together,” Brown says.

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.


Mixing Metals

Mixing Metals

COMBINING FINISHES AND SHEENS LEADS TO AN INTERESTING LOOK FOR INTERIORS

Bronze, brass, nickel, chrome—metals make for some of the most luxe and layered finishes in the home. And the beauty is, you don’t have to choose and (and stick with) just one. “Combining different metal finishes and sheens gives the impression that a design evolved over time,” says Killy Scheer of Scheer & Co., an interior design firm in Austin, Texas. “It’s a great way to create depth and a look that feels collected.”

KEEP THINGS BALANCED

While incorporating several metals into one space sets an inspired tone, most designers suggest selecting a main material that’s repeated throughout. Scheer recommends using a dominant metal and then choosing a few supporting iterations to use as accents. “If you’re working with several different components, make the dominant metal an easy one to match across different brands,” she says. “Chrome looks basically the same no matter the manufacturer, whereas oil-rubbed bronze can vary. In that case, chrome would be your dominant metal and oil-rubbed bronze can be an accent; just be sure it all comes from the same manufacturer, so the finishes always match.”

Vancouver-based designer Stephanie Brown also prefers to identify one metal as the architectural finish. “It makes for a consistent appearance throughout the home,” she says. “We’d typically use it on door hardware, railings, plumbing fixtures, lighting, and cabinet hardware. We then bring in one or two other metal finishes throughout as special accents.”

The reason it’s often best to stick with one lead metal is the look can get jumbled when warm and cold tones are all vying for the spotlight, says New York-based designer Ghislaine Viñas. It’s important to establish a hierarchy. If you’re working with brass, for example, have the doorknobs, hardware, and architectural features like faucets rendered in brass, and accessorize with other warm metals like copper or gold leaf. “This helps create a cohesive, balanced space,” Viñas says.

Another way to create balance is by playing with the way different materials and surfaces reflect light, says Cara Fox, owner and lead designer of The Fox Group in Salt Lake City. She suggests mixing a finish such as unlacquered brass—a living metal that patinas over time—with a high-lacquer paint that’s really glossy. “Similarly, a matte black or satin nickel paired with velvet or another shimmery fabric creates a beautiful contrast of sheens. Linen paired with a shiny metal will create the same effect,” Fox says.

 

Kitchen | The Fox Group
A kitchen designed by The Fox Group, pulls off the look with pendant lighting and door and cabinet hardware. Playing with light is one way to mix materials, says Cara Fox, owner and lead designer of the firm. | Photo Credit: Scott Davis

 

CONSIDER THE COLOR PALETTE

Metals have either warm or cool tones, and whether you stick with all one temperature or mix things up is a matter of preference. For example, Mary Maydan, founder and principal of Maydan Architects in Palo Alto, Calif., prefers using one color family. When the color palette is white and gray, for instance, she often adds metals in cool tones such as chrome, stainless steel, or silver. “That said, it can be nice to add an accent metal, like copper, that is not in the same family to give warmth to the room. Often, we’ll do this with an accent piece, like a copper metal sculpture in a library,” she says.

The key to creating a curated look is repetition, says Nicole Michael of Nicole Michael Designs in Los Angeles. “For example, if a living room light fixture is aged brass, introduce it again through an accessory, a drinks table, a decorative mirror, or even picture frames,” she says. “When you repeat colors, it helps your eye travel through the space, creating balance in the room.”

CREATE CONTRAST

In an effort to avoid a too-industrial feel, temper the look with other textures. “Natural materials such as stone and wood always mix well with metals—but, really, the key to mixing anything successfully is creating the right contrasts,” Scheer says.

In a more eclectic or traditional interior, Brown might play off brass accents such as light fixtures with rich hues on furnishings, like jewel-toned velvets or cognac-colored leather. In a more minimal interior with black and rose gold metal, she keeps furniture and textiles soft and monochromatic in shades of gray and white with textural variation.

“One metal finish we consider a neutral is stainless steel,” Brown says. “To me, it’s the equivalent of blue jeans; it’s so common and understated that it usually doesn’t factor in as a metal and you can easily put other metals with it in the same space.” For instance, stainless kitchen appliances can be paired with one or two more metal finishes on the cabinet hardware, plumbing, and lights.

 


Living Room | Ghislaine Viñas
A living room in Los Feliz, Calif., designed by Ghislaine Viñas, mixes metals in a chic, slightly subtle way, by creating a hierarchy of materials. | Photo Credit: Garrett Rowland

 

CONSIDER THE SPACE ITSELF

Just how and where you mix your metals matters. “A bathroom is a great place to mix metals,” Michael says. For example, the cabinet and door hardware can be one finish, the light fixtures a second finish, and the mirror and plumbing fixtures could be the third finish (consider looking for a two-tone piece to help tie everything together), she says. “Never mix finishes between plumbing fixtures: If the faucet is one finish and the shower head and trim are a different finish, it will read as a mistake.”

Lighting fixtures and furniture—a vintage gold lamp and a matte black metal coffee table—can provide a great opportunity for mixing metal finishes, Brown says. But this effect can also be achieved through the use of accessories—matte gold sculptural objects and picture frames on your shelves are an easy starting point, she says.

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.


Minimalism—But Make It Warm

Minimalism—But Make It Warm

HOW TO PULL OFF A SLEEK LOOK THAT STILL FEELS COZY

“Many people have a misconception that minimalism and starkness are the same thing. That’s not true,” says Ximena Rodriguez, principal and director of interior design at CetraRuddy in New York. “Minimalism and warmth do not have to be contradictory principles. For us, a neutral color palette, materials, and textures are the building blocks of warm minimalism,” she says.

At its core, and when designed well, a minimalist home offers a calming environment and a sense of serenity, Rodriguez says. “A cleaner environment creates more space for your mind to concentrate on positive ideas, goals, or tasks.”

Making it feel warm and welcoming is a matter of thoughtful restraint. As Michael Rath, CEO, owner, and director of design services at Trilogy Partners in Frisco, Colo., says, “The path to simplicity is a careful inventory of what is most important and what is not, and that which is becomes the place, and that which is not has no place.”

Nina Magon Minimalism Decor
Nina Magon sticks to complementary hues and textures to create interesting minimalism.

CAREFULLY SELECT THE COLOR PALETTE

While it seems standard practice, minimalist spaces needn’t be stark white. “Color has a big impact on mood, and we’re seeing a movement away from brighter whites and toward warmer neutral tones that offer a soothing effect,” Rodriguez says.

Similarly, architect Elisabeth Post-Marner, principal at Spacesmith in New York, prefers to use quiet colors and textured neutrals, which instill a sense of calm. “Keeping the palette ‘quiet’ allows you to combine different colors,” she says.

Minimalist spaces don’t need to be monochromatic, either. Post-Marner opts for a tonal vibe or uses colors in the same family. For furniture, this might mean using cherry and walnut finishes, which live in the same midbrown family or a range of neutral tones and textures that complement one another.

Rath also goes for neutrals but adds in a burst of color here and there. He looks to calming contrasts as well, such as lighter straight-grained wood finishes with a charcoal gray backdrop.

To maintain a sleek and consistent vibe, and promote a cohesive flow, Nina Magon, of Nina Magon Studio in Houston, uses a trio of hues that are similar in shade and tone and incorporates a range of tonal textures. “To create visual layering that adds warmth and subtle richness, stick to a certain group of complementary hues and bring in a range of different textures and fabrics for visual interest,” Magon says.

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ADD DIMENSION

Texture is one of the easiest and most effective ways to make a space feel more inviting. “Mixing texture is essential to creating a warm and interesting space,” says Samantha Gallacher, co-founder of IG Workshop, a Miami-based interior design lab and founder of Art+Loom, a line of handcrafted rugs. Think textiles, such as rugs and window treatments, and layered textures (textured wallpaper, chunkier weaves on furniture), she says.

Rugs in particular add visual interest, dimensionality, warmth, and texture without cluttering a space or taking away from the bare beauty of minimalism, Magon says. Incorporating a few different textures can help keep a space varied and welcoming—especially if the colors are neutral and complementary, Rodriguez says. “This is where materials play a role. For kitchens and bathrooms, there’s interest now in stones that feature unique patterns and colors, such as blue and green tones, which bring a much warmer feel than a standard white marble,” Rodriguez says.

Gallacher brings the color palette to life using a gradation of neutrals throughout a space by way of natural elements such as wood, marble, and concrete. Lighting also comes into play. “Lighting that’s concealed or integrated into millwork, for instance, can be very minimalist, but it can also adjust over the course of the day to match circadian rhythms and have a positive influence on mood,” Rodriguez says.

Rath recommends organics such as wood and leather. “Wood and other organics introduce subtle natural patterns that are interesting to behold. Sheen is relaxed, not shiny, and warmer in appearance. Simpler straight grain woods in cabinetry are the way to go,” he says.

Artwork can also bring a sense of dimension, interest, and texture. “Featuring your favorite artwork, or a few curated accessories displayed in smaller moments, can go a long way toward adding style and warmth,” Rodriguez says. And when well-placed, art adds personality and makes a space feel like home, says Anne Carr of Anne Carr Design in Los Angeles. “While you don’t want to over-accessorize, make sure to incorporate personal touches such as vases, framed photos, and coffee table books,” she says.

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GO GREEN

“Plants bring life and energy, and their rich colors are wonderfully contrasted against a simple neutral palette,” Rath says. They also lend a sense of tranquility and a connection to nature that has proven health benefits like air purification, Rodriguez says. “If your home offers great views of a natural green landscape, you might not need much greenery within your interior spaces. Even so, it only takes a few strategically placed plantings to bring that feeling of nature into your home in a way that contributes to a warm minimalist mood,” she says.

Rodriguez also prefers to incorporate greenery on balconies or other indoor/outdoor spaces. “Landscaping or adding plantings to these areas visually integrates nature into your living space without crowding and cluttering the home,” she says.

Post-Marner loves to incorporate philodendrons, in particular, but with restraint. “When purchasing plants, a minimalist philosophy should be used as well. One five-foot-high philodendron in a living room as opposed to five smaller plants,” she says.

If you don’t have a green thumb, Carr suggests using fresh, rotating arrangements. “They’re a great way to keep things interesting while bringing some life to the room.”

Contemporary Home by Nina Magon Studio
A contemporary home designed by Nina Magon Studio.

CLEAR CLUTTER

The first principle of minimalism is a clutter-free space. For that, storage is essential. “It should be everywhere and yet not obvious,” Rath says. “I recommend incorporating flush-mounted surfaces that hide everything with an option to open and grab whenever you may need it.”

“The beauty of minimalist design is the ‘less is more aesthetic,’ so the less clutter that is visible, the better,” Magon says. She suggests hidden storage elements such as benches, ottomans, furniture pieces with drawers, and flush push-to-open millwork.

Getting creative with storage is key to successful minimalist design, Rodriguez says. “We like to find ways to conceal storage within our designs for a room by integrating closets into wall paneling, for instance.”

Dining Room by Ximena Rodriguez
A dining room with pops of color by Ximena Rodriguez.

 

Lounge by Elisabeth Pot-Marner
A lounge area by New York-based Elisabeth Post-Marner.

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.


The Lure of Linen

The Lure Of Linen

AT HOME ANYWHERE, THE MATERIAL IS MEANT TO BE ENJOYED AT ALL TIMES OF THE YEAR

As relaxed as it is regal and as approachable as it is precious, there’s a duality about linen fabric that makes it work for both a casual space by the sea or a chic loft in the city. “Linen is at once both elegant and organic. It truly lends itself to any style of space from the most minimal to truly traditional,” says Grant Trick, of Grant Trick Furnishings in Irondale, Ala.

Made from the fibers of the flax plant, linen has an earthy touch that renders it versatile for drapery, upholstery, bedding, and wallpaper. “It feels simultaneously modern and earthy,” says Marea Clark of Marea Clark Interiors in San Francisco. “Inherent textural qualities make it interesting.” It’s that same versatility that enables it to be iterated in many different weaves and finishes, from the lightest translucent to the heaviest weave, says Susie McLaren, creative head of residential interiors at SHH, an architecture and interior design practice in London. It can be woven into jacquard patterns and multicolored herringbones, and can be hand, screen, or digitally printed. “Either natural, bleached, or dyed, its character always comes through,” McLaren says.

Linen is generally strong and hard-wearing, and its character improves with washing and age. Light and midweights are perfect for formal pleating and embroidery, while washed and stonewashed varieties are ideal for a more relaxed look, McLaren says.

The material is also naturally anti-microbial and resistant to mildew, “which is especially good for humid climates,” says Kristin Hildebrand, lead designer and CEO of KH Interiors based in Southern California. “Its fibers are so tightly woven, they won’t loosen over time, making whatever linen you have in your home last longer,” she says.

How and where to render this fabric within your walls is only a matter of the style you seek for your home.

Modern & Earthy Design by Marea Clark
San Francisco-based interior designer Marea Clark uses linen for upholstery and drapery, since she sees it as both modern and earthy.

LET IT COME TO LIFE

Linen can be used in just about every room in your home—as furniture fabric, upholstery, or as “linens” for the bedroom or dining room. For a beach bungalow, lightweight linen curtains look breezier when unlined. Heavier weight-lined and underlined linen drapery befit a more formal living space. Phillip Thomas, founder and principal of Phillip Thomas Inc. in New York City, often uses a heavy flannel as lining when he wants to give panels more structure.

Hildebrand loves to use linen for roman shades in window treatments. “Sometimes we select solid neutrals for a shade, and other times we mix it up with a patterned linen. In both scenarios, the soft organic feel of the fabric has a beautiful effect,” she says.

As upholstery for furniture, linen can be rendered in myriad ways. Sofas can be tightly upholstered or swathed in loose covers for a more casual and versatile look, McLaren says. Slipcovers are a smart choice for high traffic seating because they can be easily switched out and laundered. Linen also partners well with other fabrics. “Linen upholstery with leather piping is always a smart combination,” McLaren says.

In the bedroom, linen is perfect for headboards and bed bases. “It’s absorbent and breathable, which makes it naturally hypoallergenic, so it’s ideal to use in bedrooms and particularly for bedding,” McLaren says. She also uses embroidered antique linen sheets as throws for sofas and embroidered linen for window blinds. “Vintage linen sacks can be reused for upholstery and cushions and mixed with other fabrics for a totally unique look,” McLaren adds.

And instead of the often-used grasscloth wallpaper, try a linen option. “It really warms up spaces by softening walls that might otherwise feel stark with paint,” Clark says.

CONSIDER THE FABRICATION

“Linen is available in a wide variety of textures and patterns that open up the opportunity for dynamic and creative interiors,” Thomas says. The beauty of it is it can be integrated into both formal structured furnishings as well as more relaxed, informal furnishings, he says.

Trick suggests using washed linens for slipcovered pieces wanting soft and imperfect textures. “Expect cushion covers to grow a bit over time; flip often and fluff feather inserts,” he says. He also loves linen velvets for upholstery, which he says can be formal or relaxed. “I love that they come from the mill already having a gorgeous patina that just gets better with age. Linen velvet ‘wears in’ and doesn’t wear out like cottons and synthetics. The more you live on it, the signs of use just add a layer of authenticity that you don’t get with some other velvets,” Trick says.

As a breathable fiber, it’s cool in the summer and warm in winter, McLaren says. For cooler months she suggests layering it with other materials such as wools, cashmeres, and faux fur for a cozier vibe. “In summer, floaty unlined white linen at open windows and loose linen couch covers in paler, more summery colors” are ideal, she says.

Miami-based designer Constanza Collarte of Collarte Interiors considers linen a go-to fabric because she’s able to use it year-round. “I tend to favor laundered or washed versions—in fact, the more wrinkled and casual looking, the better for that lived-in look,” she says. “It’s organic and adds a ton of texture to any room and it takes on color beautifully in more muted tones.”

Chic Linen Bedroom by Constanza Collarte
A bedroom designed by Miami-based Constanza Collarte uses linen to pull off a chic lived-in look.

HANDLE WITH CARE

It is important to understand (and embrace) the potential for wrinkling with linen, Thomas says. “If that’s not something you can stomach, then I recommend staying away from the fabric or using a blend, such as linen cotton, which is called union cloth.”

Although linen is strong, the lighter weights can eventually deteriorate in time with excessive washing, McLaren says. “Open weaves on upholstered furniture can be vulnerable to catching and tearing, but this would be similar to any open weave fabric.”

And, like every upholstery fabric, linen benefits from regular maintenance. “Vacuuming at least once a month to remove surface dirt will extend your linen life a lot. And if you have an accident, probably best to call a professional upholstery cleaner,” Hildebrand says.

EMBRACE ITS IMPERFECTIONS

Because linen is hydrophilic, meaning it absorbs moisture from its environment, don’t expect perfection, Trick says. “Drapery, in particular, will almost always stretch and shrink. When it’s installed and steamed, it will grow; when heat is running in cold months, it loses moisture and shrinks,” he says. “This is what makes it special and what makes it more fabulous than synthetics—like a living, breathing thing.”

For upholstery, Trick recommends having the fabric knit-backed to improve the tailoring and help prevent some of the natural stretching that occurs on cushions, pillows, and bedding. Just ensure you use the correct weight and finish for its function, McLaren says. She suggests using a robust heavyweight linen for fixed upholstery and a soft fluid finish for drapery. “Embrace its character and tendency to crease; it’s all part of its relaxed charm. Washing it will soften the structure and may lighten the color, but that’s part of its appeal and character to be celebrated.”

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.


What’s New In Art, Architecture, And Design

THE BLENDING OF ART AND SCIENCE, MULTIPLYING PRIMARY BEDROOM SUITES, AND THE RETURN OF LAID-BACK COTTAGE-STYLE INTERIORS

Art is building on its scientific cred, residences are getting multiple primary suites, and the down-to-earth cottage look is back. Here are the latest trends in art, architecture, and design.

Art

High-tech science has become a creative force in the art world.

London-based artist Susan Aldworth explores the human identity, or as she puts it, “what makes us who we are,” in works that are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and Guy’s Hospital. Her interest in the “human mind, especially consciousness and our sense of self,” has led to collaborations with scientists.

For her suite of prints Transience, she helped develop a technique to capture the authentic marks of the brain on an etching plate. And her large-scale installation Out of the Blue, comprising 106 antique garments embroidered with words spoken by epileptics and suspended from the ceiling, is moved by computer-programmed pulleys to correspond to the algorithms of electrical activity in an epileptic brain. “Science,” she says, “offers fascinating explanations and methodologies to explore the world with.”

Klari Reis, a painter based in San Francisco, experiments with new materials and methods for her scientifically themed works. Using epoxy polymer, she explores its interaction with a variety of dyes and pigments, creating compositions on aluminum and wood panels that are characterized by colorful under-the-microscope smears, bumps, and stains. Her installation Hypochondria consists of hand-painted petri dishes mounted on walls in groupings of 30, 60, or 150 pieces. Reis, whose work is on display in the Peninsula Shanghai hotel, Morgan Stanley in New York City, and the Stanford University Medical Center, collaborates with biomedical companies. She says she is “driven by curiosity and my desire to explore and document the natural and unnatural with a sense of wonder and joy.”

Klari Reis’ work includes hand-painted petri dishes.
Klari Reis’ work includes hand-painted petri dishes.

ARCHITECTURE

In grand estates, one of the latest luxuries gaining popularity is a series of primary bedroom suites akin to a five-star hotel. Sometimes they are two separate suites; in other instances, a pair of bedrooms shares a central bathroom.

Bobby McAlpine, the founder of the interior design and architecture firm that bears his name, says he’s designed several over the years. “When a pair of homeowners such as two couples or siblings share a vacation property, double master suites are the order of the day,” he says. “Other requests are for an upstairs master for use now and a ground-floor master for the homeowner to ‘age’ into in the future.”

The look of two primary bedrooms can create a symmetry, he says. He created mirrored primary suites in his first house, a move he described as “smart and downright pretty.”

For a client with a summer home in St. John, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Elissa Morgante, a co-principal of Morgante Wilson Architects in Evanston, Ill., designed a pair of main bedroom suites—one on the first floor and one on the second, creating chic symmetry.

A primary suite—one of a pair— in a St. John home designed by Morgante Wilson Architects.
A primary suite—one of a pair— in a St. John home designed by Morgante Wilson Architects.

DESIGN

Cottage style—that humble-chic aesthetic—is making a comeback, particularly in accessory buildings such as carriage houses and pool houses.

“The human scale of the cottage is a perfect mix of softened roof lines and quaint, well-scaled facades,” says architect Kevin ten Brinke, a principal of KT2 Design Group in Sudbury, Mass. With interiors characterized by painted or decorated furniture, weathered finishes, floral fabrics, a garden-in-bloom color palette, vintage features, and natural textural accents like baskets, cottage style is “a great way of exploring more fun expressive details that would otherwise be too informal for the main residence,” he notes.

A kitchen by KT2 Design.
A kitchen by KT2 Design.
Cottage chic kitchen
Feels cottage chic.

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.