Designer Forum: A minimalist contemporary aesthetic leads design for an expansive home – May 2023
By Oshri Adri and Jillian Dahlman Bhatia
When moving from a small New York apartment to a sprawling house on Long Island, a young but established family called us in to help overhaul and personalize the new space. The move offered the chance to distance themselves from the traditional style of the reds and florals in their previous home and embrace a minimal and contemporary aesthetic. The 5,000-plus-square-foot project included a complete overhaul of the existing materials and an all-encompassing design.
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
The clients not only wanted to surround themselves with a clean and streamlined aesthetic, but they also wanted something easy to maintain. We considered tile, but the majority of the home had existing wood floors that were in good shape. The hardwood, which is the predominant material in homes in this area, had been installed when the house was built in the 2000s and lovingly maintained by the previous owners, who originally designed the home. As such, we decided to maintain the footprints of both the hardwood and tile, used in the entryway and kitchen, though both materials got a modern upgrade.
With its yellowish stain, the wood looked dated, so we had the floors sanded and stained in a neutral midtone. We paired that with a large-format porcelain marble-look tile that gives the space an air of sophistication. Real marble is often the material of choice in foyers, a chance to splurge on something decorative, but the size of this one made that impractical. In addition, the homeowners were worried about durability and didn’t want something that would have to be sealed or that might change color.
When selecting the tile, we were careful to avoid anything that looked fake-a common problem with matte marble looks, which provide the slip resistance needed for everyday life. Calacatta Silver porcelain from Kashi Tile had just enough sheen to keep the material from looking printed while keeping it safe for the family of four.
Laying the tile presented another challenge. The veining has varying thicknesses, and we wanted a random design to avoid any groupings that would make the rest of the space feel empty and artificial. To ensure this, we personally laid out about a dozen tiles in order to show the contractor our vision.
We carried the same tile into the kitchen to create a cohesive and modern feel. While many clients prefer hardwood in the kitchen, changing out another material for wood can be difficult if it meets existing wood elsewhere, as the stains won’t match. So, while hardwood is preferred for resale value, we counsel our clients to consider the value of their everyday lives and whether the transition will bother them.
For the master bathroom, we chose a complementary marble look for the field tile. Porcelanosa’s Soul Frost Pulido provides a spa-like backdrop for the oversized soaking tub, with its subdued marble visual in a polished finish. The double walk-in shower breaks up the space by adding organic texture and pronounced movement, drawing the eye around the room. It features a woodgrain floor tile, Smart Minnesota Ash from Porcelanosa, with a corresponding linear mosaic, Porcelanosa’s Noa-L Minnesota Ash.
The bathrooms offered a chance to introduce some more statement-style selections. We took the tile from floor to ceiling in every direction, in keeping with the homeowners’ desire for easily cleanable surfaces.
Though the children’s bathroom, for the couple’s sons, is streamlined and masculine, it offers visual interest in the striations found in the floor and wall tile. The floor, a zebra-striped wood look, is Ohio from Kashi Tile, and the wall, Porcelanosa’s Yakarta, features a subtle etched linear pattern in a linen color.
The guest bathroom is a little bolder, with a geometric mosaic from TileBar balanced by walls of white subway tile from Kashi Tile laid in a brick pattern. And with its authentic Carrara marble vanity and herringbone floor set against broody black wallpaper, the main-floor powder room speaks of elegance.
SETTING THE TONE
To make the house feel lived-in, we added texture and color through rugs and other accents. The homeowners were averse to what they saw as superfluous details and materials where dirt could hide, but we wanted to make sure the house didn’t feel sterile. Rugs provide an anchor for different spaces, while drapes were used to soften the ambiance. These elements are also in keeping with the character of the home and surrounding neighborhood, which are a little more traditional than the clients’ aesthetic.
The clients preferred a minimalist contrasting color palette, so we used a variety of metals to create interest and help warm up the space through warmer brass accents. Wood elements also help soften the space, and we used art to introduce some color. The only other place the homeowners were okay with color was in the children’s area, so we added a dynamic checkered rug from Flor.
In the master bedroom, we were able to maintain a simple, monochromatic aesthetic while making it feel cozy with a luxurious velvet headboard and a soft polypropylene take on a sisal weave from Prestige Mills, which is mirrored in the wall treatment.
Our specialty lies in drilling down the clients’ aesthetic and adding a fresh spin. While we are normally the project managers, handling all aspects of the design and execution, the homeowner was more involved than is typical in this project. That was partly due to the fact that the contractor did not speak English, and our client was the only one who could communicate with him. Overall, this project serves as a good example of balancing the client’s wishes with our professional expertise to achieve the perfect union. And in this case, the timeline was somewhat tight, with about six months for the renovation stage and six months to decorate the house from top to bottom. To make sure we met the family’s move-in date, we started with the labor-intensive kitchen and bathrooms, and then carried the design out from there.
Copyright 2023 Floor Focus
Related Topics:The International Surface Event (TISE)