COLOURS OF CALM

In­te­rior de­sign takes a sooth­ing turn with new neu­trals

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents - Words KARA O’REILLY Pho­tog­ra­phy GIOR­GIO POSSENTI

A stun­ning ex­am­ple of the in­te­rior de­sign world’s grow­ing af­fec­tion for pale but

in­ter­est­ing colours – see our in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the New Neu­trals trend on p21 – this home’s sooth­ing pal­ette was Brazil­ian-born in­te­rior ar­chi­tect Lenka Soares’s way of cre­at­ing a co­coon of calm in the cen­tre of New York. After all, life in any big city can in­volve seem­ingly con­stant bus­tle, a bab­ble of ap­point­ments, neon lights and noise. Even on the grand streets of the Up­per East Side, op­po­site the hal­lowed Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art, where this late-19th-cen­tury, seven-storey, seven-bed­room town­house is lo­cated, there’s a need for quiet, con­tem­pla­tive de­sign. ‘My vi­sion for the project was to keep it so­phis­ti­cated and in­cor­po­rate key pieces from the fam­ily’s art col­lec­tion,’ says Lenka. ‘The own­ers wanted to have a spa­cious and mod­ern home that in­cluded a mix of mid-cen­tury fur­ni­ture, as well as pieces from Ital­ian and Brazil­ian de­sign­ers.’ The aim was to give the house a light and airy feel, al­low­ing the key pieces of fur­ni­ture to sing out against the sen­su­ously soft back­drop of browns, blues and creams. It’s the mod­ern way of us­ing muted tones – they have tex­ture and depth, but also a tran­quil qual­ity that is com­pletely cur­rent. ➤

TAC­TILE SUR­FACES

While the colours used through­out this tran­quil home are low-key, Lenka has in­jected an ex­tra feel­ing of warmth through her choice of ma­te­ri­als, mix­ing up fab­rics, tex­tures and fin­ishes. ‘I love the cos­set­ing feel of the liv­ing room, with its leather sofa and vel­vet chair, and the din­ing space, where I have cov­ered an en­tire wall in faux leather and re­cov­ered mid-cen­tury chairs in gor­geous suede.’

TIME­LESS ELEGANCE

Through­out this home, vin­tage pieces sourced from Europe are mixed with new com­mis­sions from Amer­i­can com­pa­nies and Brazil­ian de­sign­ers, al­though Lenka re­uphol­stered many of her vin­tage finds ‘to bring a con­tem­po­rary feel­ing’. It’s one of her sig­na­ture in­te­rior de­sign tricks. ‘I love to mix the pieces al­ready in the client’s house with new ones. I to­tally be­lieve that the en­ergy in a space comes from mem­o­ries, from trav­els, from pieces and de­tails pur­chased through­out life… it is so im­por­tant that a home doesn’t look like a cat­a­logue, with­out any soul.’

EF­FORT­LESS FLOW

The own­ers of this house love to en­ter­tain, so wanted a per­sonal sanc­tu­ary that was also wel­com­ing for guests. ‘The lay­out is per­fect for this, with all of the so­cial spa­ces on the first floor,’ says Lenka. Ton­ally, each room flows gracefully into the next – from pale cream to caramel – giv­ing the home a seam­less feel. ‘The house also en­cour­ages the own­ers’ three chil­dren to ap­pre­ci­ate art and beauty,’ adds Lenka. An abode that’s en­light­en­ing and re­lax­ing – we can all ad­mire that.

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