By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
Interior designers and architects rarely get a chance to create rooms exactly the way they envision. Clients may reject their ideas because they are too different, or too expensive
The exceptions come when they can participate in a designer show house, or when a client trusts them enough to follow their instincts. Then they are really free to show off their creativity.
We asked five design professionals to explain why the rooms they selected in these pages are their favorite examples of such work, created without constraint.
Designer Joseph Fava
Designer Photographer: Craig Denis
Backstory: Fava designed this sitting room in an upstairs suite for a college student in her parents’ Towson, Md., home. “They allowed me to experiment and to do what I thought would work,” he says. “If I proposed this lamp for some clients, it might be out of their comfort zone. This client wasn’t micromanaging.”
Why favorite: He loves the fresh color palette and texture differences – vinyl on the ottoman, Ultrasuede on the sofa, the sculptural metal lamp and the shag rug. “I was trying to give the room a retro vibe,” he says. “I love the art over the sofa. It almost makes fun of pop art.”
Inspiration: The fabric on the pillows has a mid-century feel that Fava echoed in the acid-green throw and the teal of the walls and rug.
What makes a great room: The unexpected. It is an element in the space that is uncommon and hasn’t been done before.
Designer: Giselle Loor and Brett Sugerman
Photographer: Barry Grossman
Backstory: Clients with three children wanted to fit as many people as possible in the dining room of their Weston home because they entertain often, host charity events and have large Shabbat dinners with friends. They asked for the room to be elegant and practical with a wow factor. The upholstery is leather for easy cleaning and the two custom tables were designed so guests wouldn’t be too crowded.
Why favorite: “We love that the room is such an intimate and elegant setting and how the light goes through the sheers. The whole space is practically enveloped in sheers. We used some of our favorite things – chairs and benches in a formal setting. The sconces that appear to be floating really make a statement behind the sheers.”
Inspiration: The family’s lifestyle. They tried to tone down the Mediterranean-style house and make it more contemporary. But the sheers honored the architecture by showing the archways and architectural elements.
What makes a great room: “Function. I think it’s important that you have a beautiful room, but a room doesn’t work unless it meets the client’s needs and there is not enough room to pull out chairs,” Loor says. “Everything else is secondary.”
Designer: Joseph Pubillones
Photographer: Daniel Newcomb
Backstory: When Pubillones was asked to design a room in a Key West style home for the 2013 Red Cross Designer’s Show House in West Palm Beach, he rejected the typical tropical vibrant colors for shades of sand and driftwood. He illustrated how to mix patterns with a Moroccan patterned dhurrie rug, a zebra-print fabric on an art deco-style chair and a tone-on-tone fabric for a Chippendale settee. Large-scale pieces include an “H” from a remodeled Hermès store and a large pottery lamp from the 1950s. He covered the front of the chests in reclaimed wood.
Why favorite: Choosing the right scale for a small room makes it seem larger. He says this 12 by 15 room with three seating areas could be a case study for a living room in a small urban condo or apartment.
Inspiration: He was inspired by the hand-embroidered Sedona ikat from Beacon Hill done in collaboration with Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia, founders of Ankasa. The design illustrates how to mix different patterns – using the same color palette and varying print sizes.
What makes a great room: “You have to have a combination of ordinary things and a few extraordinary things,” he says. “Not every piece has to shout. The majority should be a backdrop with one or two extraordinary pieces.”
Designer/architect: Lachmee Chin (designer) and Kurt Dannwolf (architect)
Photographer: Ken Hayden
Backstory: This elegant wine room was designed for snowbirds from Montreal who own a penthouse on the 68th floor of the Four Seasons Residences in Miami. The room, about the size of a one-car garage, was designed to hold more than 1,100 bottles of wine. The most prestigious wines are displayed on their side with the label facing forward so it can be read. The clients wanted the wine room to be a transition between the open living room and the home theater. A heavy soundproof curtain that retracts into the wall allows the media room to be shut off when movies are shown.
Why favorite: “They gave us a long leash,” Chin says. “They wanted a homey look but with clean lines. We presented three boards – one very comfortable, one outside the box and one in between. They went with the most extravagant plan that was outside their comfort level.”
Inspiration: The design team was inspired by the wine collection. They used a variety of materials – wood, stone, metal and glass. What makes the design unique is the Black Kosmus Granite walls, a tactile stone of black and silver with a bumpy texture. The beige limestone floor has a brown vein. Both are from Opustone.
What makes a great room: “A great room is something you go into again and again and keep noticing different details,” Dannwolf says.
Joseph Fava: Fava Design Group, 7636 NE Fourth Ct., #103, Miami, 786-536-5380, favadesigngroup.com
Lachmee Chin and Kurt Dannwolf: O’Donnell Dannwolf & Partners Architects, 4601 Sheridan St., Hollywood, 954-518-0833, odparchitects.com
Giselle Loor and Brett Sugerman: B+G Design Group, 410 NW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-929-6949, bandgdesign.com
Joseph Pubillones: Joseph Pubillones Interiors, 4 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach, 561-655-1717, josephpubillones.com