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Modern renovation with additional features new great room, designer furniture pieces

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Contemporary remodel by architect Nestor Santa-Cruz with Boffi kitchen, influenced by Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern design

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An appreciation of contemporary art often goes hand in hand with a passion for design classics.

But, as this project demonstrates, a distinctive, contemporary classic interior that showcases significant pieces doesn't need to take itself too seriously – it can also provide a lively, informal living space well suited to busy, modern lifestyles.

The owners of the house undertook a major renovation, with an addition almost doubling its size. They commissioned Nestor Santa-Cruz to design the interior and oversee the architectural detailing, an evolving process the owners describe as a "creative collaboration".

"We love the Art Deco era and classic modern design," says one of the owners. "Nestor was given the job of curating, editing and translating our requirements. In terms of design aesthetics, our tastes are very similar."

Santa-Cruz says one of the first tasks was to open up the spaces – doorways were widened and made higher to create a more spacious, free-flowing interior that would provide sightlines through the house.


"It was also important to provide a variety of formats for living and entertaining," the designer says. "The owners and their guests have the freedom to move to different areas during the course of an evening. But every room is connected to the exterior view, and to key artworks."

Santa-Cruz says the owners' existing art collection was a starting point for the interior. The rest of the design was influenced by their appreciation for the Art Deco period, and classic modern furniture from the '20s right through to the present.

"A traditional English or European-inspired interior was not the look required for this project. The owners wanted a far more eclectic, contemporary design.

"I was most concerned, however, that the interior should not look contrived. I wanted it to look as though it had been put together by the owners themselves. Not everything has to match, for example."

Santa-Cruz says creating an interior with objects and furniture of different styles comes down to careful editing.

"It is all about finding a common design language, so these items can begin to talk to each other. For this project, that language came from an international understanding – the owners are well travelled and could appreciate the value of the pieces we sourced in Paris, New York, Buenos Aires and online.

"In every room there is a balance, and it's not just a balance of colour and texture, but also a balance in the provenance of the pieces."

Much of the design was influenced by the work of Jean-Michel Frank, a French interior designer working from the mid '20s through to 1941.

This influence can be seen in the living room, which has a quiet formality. The room features a grand piano, a white '70s Serpentine sofa by Vladimir Kagan, a '70s gazelle sculpture that is an Art Deco motif, a blue cracked lacquer coffee table by Edouard de la Marque, and a contemporary diptych artwork by David Bell.

"Throughout the house we added table lamps of different styles – when the owners found it hard to choose between two lamps we found a home for both," the architect says. "This also ensures there is an element of playfulness about the interior design – it is not too serious."

The library room, shown above, has an Italian aged-leather sofa and chair designed by Peter Marino. Because there was a shortage of bookshelves due to the large number of windows, Santa-Cruz custom designed a custom iron and gilt sofa table with shelves.

The owners' existing light oak dining furniture, including a table with legs in a traditional pineapple design, was stripped of old varnish and restored to look like the original models from the '30s. The formal dining room also features a handmade wallpaper that resembles parchment – a Jean-Michel Frank reference that reappears elsewhere in the house.

The great room, which resembles a garden room, has a more relaxed, informal look, but here again designer pieces feature strongly. A Norman Foster dining table is teamed with Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs and two Arne Jacobsen Swan dining chairs. The room is also distinguished by a sculptural floor lamp by Noguchi, a Mies van der Rohe Barcelona coffee table, B&B Italia armchairs, a Flexform sofa in dark chocolate brown, and a vintage Beni Ourain Moroccan tribal rug.

A Boffi kitchen with white polyester and dark wood veneer cabinets has an integrated design that keeps much of the functionality hidden from view.

Julia Walter of Boffi Georgetown says the freestanding wall of cabinets fits with the overall aesthetic of the house

"Aluminium spacers provide unobtrusive handles, and everything else is also concealed, with just the two ovens highlighted in the centre."

Bedrooms continue the warm colour palette, with bold patterns and textural contrasts helping to enliven the spaces. A dramatic crystal chandelier that was in the owners' original dining room adds a quirky touch of glamour to the sleek, contemporary dressing room.

First published date: 28 July 2015

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Credit List

Remodeling architect David M Knudson
Interior designer Nestor Santa-Cruz IIDA with architect Pedro Aguirre (Washington, DC)
Kitchen manufacturer Boffi spa
Flooring Oak in existing area; American walnut in addition
Floor lamp beside dining table Noguchi
Furniture Various, including B&B Italia armchairs, Mies van der Rohe Barcelona tables, Edouard de la Marque coffee table, Peter Marino sofa by Poltrona Frau, Flexform sofa, Norman Foster dining table by Tecno, Arne Jacobsen Swan dining chairs, Hans Wegner Wishbone dining chairs; Danish pieces from Furniture From Scandinavia Gallery
Pendant over dining table in great room Orten'zia by Terzani
Kitchen cabinetry Boffi wood veneer in Graphite Grey Oak; polyester in white
Hardware Blum
Storage systems Boffi
Countertops Honed Nero Assoluto granite
Ovens and refrigeration Gaggenau
Cooktop, ventilation and microwave oven Wolf
Dishwasher Miele integrated
Bathtub Boffi Swim
Vanities and basins Boffi Universal with basins in Corian
Bathroom faucets Boffi Minimal and Cut series
Master suite cabinetry Boffi Ebony in bathroom; Ikea in dressing room
Shower walls Carrara marble
Rugs in bathroom Ikea
Recessed ceiling lighting Lightolier
Vanity backsplash Elitis wallpaper
Master bedroom wallcovering Ralph Lauren Home Collection @@@ Story by Colleen Hawkes ***