Decorating with Restraint

By Bertelsen, Ann | Sunset, April 1999 | Go to article overview

Decorating with Restraint


Bertelsen, Ann, Sunset


A limited palette unifies a multifunctional room

Furnishing multifunctional spaces-such as one that combines living room, dining area, and kitchen-can be a challenge. How do you differentiate each functional space without creating a stylistic hodgepodge? The decorating plan for this house in Big Sur, California, designed by Monterey architect David Allen Smith, shows how to use a palette of materials and colors inspired by nature.

Interior designer Barbara Scavullo wanted the interior to be a seamless extension of the house's dramatic coastal setting and rugged contemporary structure-its floor-to-ceiling windows, massive stone fireplace, and exposed wood posts and beams.

The rocky landscape inspired the use of concrete for floors and kitchen counters. From olive green to deep terracotta to sea blue, the colors of nature appear in the fabrics and the concrete. The designer treated one wall as a canvas, saturating it with a golden ochre that was mixed into the plaster and recalls the strong slanting light of late afternoon. Wood surfaces were left unpainted.

The furniture is oversize to fit the scale of the house-the ceiling is up to 16 feet high. "I wanted the furniture to be comfortable and simple, blending into the architecture and the site rather than competing with it," says Scavullo.

A large banquette divides the living area from the hallway and wraps around the corner to pull the eye to the area's primary focal point, the fireplace. Two soft-red, suede-covered lounge chairs separate the living room from the dining room without enclosing either space; an island performs the same function between the dining area and kitchen. …

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