Magazine article Sunset

New Arts and Crafts: The Cool and Contemporary House Shows a Twist on a Traditional Style

Magazine article Sunset

New Arts and Crafts: The Cool and Contemporary House Shows a Twist on a Traditional Style

Article excerpt

Though both houses have Craftsman-style character, this interior reflects and redefines the style more vividly. Working with De Mattei Construction and Sunset, interior designer Bethe Cohen and her associates updated elements of Arts and Crafts design--particularly the geometric motifs found in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the Greene brothers. Square and rectangular shapes are repeated throughout the house to unify the interior.

"The patterns are so large they are almost unrecognizable," Cohen says. "But you will see their outlines in the molding, casing, and paneling." The result is a richly layered design in which each room becomes an artful composition of carefully juxtaposed details.

The star of the dining area is a square table with a terrazzo like top made of shards of recycled Chardonnay bottles embedded in polished concrete. Director's chairs have leather scats and backs, a more formal fabric than the usual canvas.

The interplay of light and dark enlivens both rooms, which open gracefully to each other. The mustard-colored dining room walls contrast with the richly grained palm-wood floor. The chandelier is crafted from metal and amber-colored glass, a traditional Arts and Crafts treatment--but its organic shape gives it a modern flair. Blinds of woven reeds add a richly textured, natural counterpoint.

Mindful of how Arts and Grafts--era architects turned stairways into a form of art furniture, the Cohen team shaped the entry hall's stair rail out of alternating bands of painted iron and textured slumped glass. They crafted the wall beneath into Japanese tansu-like storage cabinets. The door to the kitchen is another art piece: a sheet of translucent slumped glass that's a new version of the barn door. It separates the kitchen from the entry hall without blocking light.

In the kitchen, the tone is set by granite counters and sleek stainless steel appliances. The custom-designed cabinets--stained dark cherry to match the red hues in the granite--include pullout corner and pantry systems. The gland has a chopping-block table that can be wheeled out and used as a cart.

The family room is unabashedly contemporary. Bold terra-cotta red surrounds and frames the fireplace wall, which is cast concrete tinted olive gray. The concrete hearth extends along the wall to the right to become a window seat. "I wanted to play up the window seat's strong architectural character, so I avoided covering it with big pillows," Cohen says.

A plasma television, which can be viewed from the breakfast nook and kitchen, hangs on one wail to free up floor space. Four area rags were bound together to form a large abstract design that anchors the space.

The master bedroom and bathroom are designed as a sophisticated retreat. The bed is angled to take advantage of the view of the terraced backyard. Luxurious bed linens in rich copper, chocolate, amber, mid crimson tones echo the palette of the master bath, where amber- and copper-toned glass tiles surround the soaking tub and shower stall. The tub occupies a sunlit corner overlooking the rear yard. A glass wall separates the tub from the steam shower without appearing to confine either area.

The guest bedroom on the basement level is surprisingly light. The lavender and gold hues of the quilted silk bedding complement the taupe walls, crisply outlined with white baseboard and crown molding. The ladderlike display stand reinforces the open, uncluttered look. Local retailer Martino's Interiors provided most of the furnishings throughout the house, including this contemporary bed and the leather benches. …

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