by Becca Bergman Bull and Colleen Egan | April 3, 2017

When applied to a person, “moody” isn’t especially flattering. But describing a room? The term conjures up mystery and quiet, rich fabrics and deep colors — a melancholy afternoon spent with a gothic novel or hushed conversations amid candles and red wine. At the other end of the visual spectrum are luminous rooms replete with gleaming surfaces, clean-cut modernist angles and sandy neutrals or stark whites mixed with pops of color. The feeling is energetic and uplifting, the inspiration often sky, sea or light. Which do you prefer?




Rafael De Cárdenas / Architecture at Large, New York City

In a five-bedroom home in London, Rafael De Cárdenas and his team worked with limestone, hardwood and natural materials, creating a restrained palette that mirrors the steely sophistication of the city outside. In the living room, works by Yayoi Kusama, Sol LeWitt, Tauba Auerbach and Mark Grotjahn hang on walls covered in a pale purple linen. A pair of Christian Liaigre slipper chairs sit opposite a mohair sofa from Todd Merrill; the New York dealer also provided the Charles Paris floor lamp in the right-hand corner. The vintage settee from Alan Moss is flanked by two Hervé Van der Straeten side tables from Maison Gerard. Photo by Simon Upton



Amy Lau Design, New York City

For a Hamptons house in Water Mill, New York, Amy Lau used both chromatic accents and textured neutrals to set off the clients’ art collection, including, in this living room, eight pieces from Anish Kapoor’s “Shadow” 2011/12 series. In the warm, colorful space, she combined a Harvey Probber sectional with three side tables that she custom designed with Silas Seandel (the brass bases) and Brenda Houston (the agate tops). On the far side of the sofa are a custom Cloud table by Jacques Jarrige from Valerie Goodman Gallery and, beyond that, a set of Paul Frankl chairs and a game table from Studio 111. Other pieces include a Vladimir Kagan Sloane sofa, a pair of Giò Ponti chairs from maison et toi with custom ottomans from Dune and, front right, a 1960s Sfumato glass floor lamp by Carlo Nason for AV Mazzega from Lobel Modern. Photo by Thomas Loof



Fox-Nahem Associates, New York City

When a couple in Greenwich, Connecticut, asked Fox-Nahem Associates to update their traditional home to better suit their collection of blue-chip contemporary art, they requested gallery-like white walls. But Joe Nahem made the case for color — perhaps most dramatically in the dining room, whose walls are slicked in Pantone Pine Needle spray lacquer, an effect the clients liken to being in a “luscious, magical forest.” He also convinced them to add some contemporary design alongside their art, commissioning a bronze chandelier with porcelain blossoms from sculptor David Wiseman through R & Company. To the left, a Richard Prince canvas hangs above a Christophe Côme sideboard from Cristina Grajales Gallery. Photo by Peter Murdock


Cullman & Kravis Inc., New York City

For a house in Sagaponack, New York, Cullman & Kravis sought to combine sophistication with the laid-back serenity befitting a seaside retreat. “Taking our cues from the sky, sand and ocean, we designed a bright and airy room with pale woods and glass accents,” Ellie Cullman says of the dining room. As in the rest of the house, the designers blended custom with classic and contemporary pieces. They commissioned the dining table with a verre églomisé top, surrounding it with 1940s sycamore side chairs attributed to André Arbus from Newel Gallery. Hanging overhead is Studio Drift’s Fragile Future Chandelier, 2011, made of bronze, LED lights and dandelion seeds. A Pat Steir painting adorns the wall behind the dining table. Photo by William Waldron



Jeffrey Alan Marks, Santa Monica, California

“I often use a kitchen as a palate cleanser for the rest of the house,” says Jeffrey Alan Marks, who designed this rustic-meets-industrial kitchen in Austin, Texas. “Simplicity wins in a room that has to meet a multitude of demands from residents large and small.” The farm table is from Chateau Domingue, and the mesh metal chairs are from Kuhl-Linscomb. Photo by Douglas Friedman


Kelly Behun | STUDIO, New York City

When describing the kitchen of her family’s Long Island, New York, beach house, Kelly Behun sums up her design inspiration in two words: “Comfort first!” She wanted multiple seating options, so she chose a long wooden bar and metal stools, for casual, buffet-style summer lunches, and her studio created the custom round walnut dining table for family dinners at night. Above the dining table is a 1940s French wicker-and-iron hanging lamp from Van den Akker. “The wicker casts a really lovely warm glow,” she says. The carved Balinese hand-shaped barstools “were purchased with my kids in mind, so they could talk to me while I’m cooking,” Behun says. Photo by William Waldron



Suduca & Mérillou, Toulouse, France

In Toulouse, France, architects Suduca & Mérillou completely overhauled a 1930s apartment, getting rid of several small adjoining rooms and narrow corridors. They then “re-unified” the whole space by covering all the walls in mahogany — “As Jean-Michel Frank did with oak,” notes Thierry Mérillou, “but mahogany is more spectacular.” Suduca and Mérillou are also decorative arts experts and operate Galerie Saint Jacques, from which they sourced many of the pieces for the apartment. In the entryway, a 1930s modernist sculpture sits atop a Biedermeier pedestal table. The 18th-century chairs on either side are by Delaizement, a French cabinetmaker who, per Mérillou, inspired Jean-Michel Frank. The wooden plate on the table is by Alexandre Noll and the drawings hanging on the wall by Robert Couturier. Photo by Manolo Yllera


MR Architecture + Decor, New York City

David Mann, of MR Architecture + Decor, gave his own country house, in Hudson, New York, an almost monastically clean palette, painting the surfaces in every room the same white, with a glossy finish for the moldings and trim and a chalky one for the ceilings and walls. Greeting visitors is a mantel created by the French sculptor Hubert Yencesse for a house Jacques Adnet worked on, which Mann repurposed as a console. Two Pierre Chareau–like chairs flank the doorway, along with a pair of 18th-century baguette candle sconces that have been electrified. On the right hangs a Turkish tulu rug, and overhead is a Moroccan brass chandelier. Photo by Simon Upton



Francis Sultana, London

The dramatic entryway of this London townhouse features a grand piano and an equally grand Georgian staircase. So designer Francis Sultana chose pale stone flooring and white paint embedded with glass particles to reflect the light from the upstairs windows into the area. The homeowners have an impressive art collection, and this foyer contains paintings by George Condo and Keith Coventry, along with Mattia Bonetti‘s Metropolis torchiere and Sevilla cabinet. Photo by Ricardo Labougle


Christoff:Finio Architecture, New York City

Christoff:Finio Architecture was tasked with clarifying the design of this country home in Sagaponack, New York, which had gone through an ill-conceived renovation in the 1980s. “This space was designed to let the outdoors pass right through it, so its users feel as much a part of nature as possible without ever walking out the door,” says Taryn Christoff. “It’s lightness and airiness are in contrast to the two existing, readapted old barns that it connects. Although it is modern in form, its warm textures and colors get along well with the rustic qualities of the barns.” Vintage chairs by Walter Gropius surround the e15 dining table. The credenza is by BDDW, and the shelves above the stairs are lined with Native American art and objects. Photo by Scott Frances




Devas Designs, London

Philippa Devas, of Devas Designs cites two influences for the dusky, tranquil look of this home on the western coast of Ireland. One was the 18th-century building’s seaside setting and former life as a fishing lodge, which is expressed in seashells and other marine artifacts throughout the house, as well as in the “smoky green” of this cloistered library. The other visual touchstone was the Bloomsbury group, a 20th-century collective of English artists, intellectuals and writers that included Virginia Woolf and her sister, the artist Vanessa Bell. “The inspiration arose when, having seen The Hours, our clients loved the colors used in Virginia Woolf’s house in the film. Many Bloomsbury colors are dusky and subtle, so we opted for subtle tones of blue, gray and green.” Photo by James Balston



Emily Summers Studio, Dallas

For this light-flooded penthouse apartment for real-estate developer H. Ross Perot Jr. and his wife, Sarah, Texas designer Emily Summers created a sleek, airy look inspired by the wraparound views of Dallas skyscrapers. In Sarah Perot’s office, Summers warmed up the space with custom African teak cabinetry, on which she hung One More Day 4 by the contemporary Hungarian artist Zsolt Bodoni. A 1960s chrome desk refinished in shagreen and pair of Ward Bennett’s 1966 Envelope chairs complete the elegant tableau. Photo by Stephen Karlisch



Hubert Zandberg Interiors, London

In the master bedroom of his own London bachelor pad, the South African–born designer Hubert Zandberg set a monochromatic tone with several black-and-white graphic art pieces — including a painting by Mustafa Hulusi, a Wolfgang Tillmans photograph and a framed Zulu skirt (partially visible). A mohair carpet, black herringbone curtains and dramatic bed of his own design add to the dusky mood. (The antique daybed upholstered in bright chrome yellow is meant to “relieve the eye,” he says.) Of course, nothing is entirely black and white. By day, Zandberg says, sunlight pours into the space through three windows and bounces off silvery threads woven into the curtains onto the crisp white walls. “The room feels surprisingly moody by night and bright and dynamic by day,” he concludes. Photo by Simon Upton


2Michaels, New York City

North by Northwest inspired this bedroom,” Joan Michaels, of 2Michaels, says of a project in the Upstate New York town of Garrison. Indeed, Edgar A. Tafel, the architect who designed the house in 1948, was mentored by Frank Lloyd Wright, who inspired the look of the house that features so prominently in the classic Hitchcock movie. To jibe with the mid-century aesthetic, the designers selected distinctive, slightly rustic furniture from that era. In the bedroom, this includes a 1950s lamp and low-slung chair from Weinberg Modern and a Swedish rug from Doris Leslie Blau, whose warmth provides a counterpoint to the stone wall. Photo by Jeff McNamara



Peter Mikic Interiors, London

“Everyone likes a snuggle in a cozy room, and choosing the right colors help tremendously,” says Peter Mikic, who combined a bedroom and a bathroom to create a master suite in the London home he shares with his partner. “The high ceilings allowed for a warm color on the walls, and the silk wallpaper reflects lots of sunlight during the day. In the evening, the coziness is warm and relaxing, which is what I’m looking for in any bedroom.” Mikic designed a countertop, sink and vanity mirror using bronze, walnut and antique marble. “Texture and pattern give the depth I need here.” The mid-century pendant in the reflection is by Guglielmo Ulrich, and the portraits in gilded frames depict relatives of Mikic’s partner. Photo by Kate Martin


Kelly Hoppen Interiors, London

For a high-rise apartment in China, Kelly Hoppen, M.B.E., devised this sleek bathroom, the inspiration for which was Parisian chic in an international context. The walls and floor are Calacatta marble with polished brass inlays, borders and details. The Corian sink and storage unit is custom made. The wet room features the Harmony tub that Hoppen designed for Apaiser. “Bathrooms are very much private spaces in which to refresh and relax. They need to be practical rooms, but it is so easy to create something different,” the designer writes in her new book, Kelly Hoppen: The Art of Interior Design (Rizzoli). “The objects and elements you choose to display can be used to change the mood of the room from feminine to masculine.” Photo by Shenzhen Lv Feng

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