Fine romance

This master bathroom, with its warm terra cotta floor tiles and beamed ceiling, is pure Italy
Colored plaster on the walls of the master bed, bedroom, ceiling, estate, furniture, home, house, interior design, property, real estate, room, suite, wall, brown, orange
Colored plaster on the walls of the master bedroom creates a rustic, textured finish. The dimensions of the room were based on the width of the eighteenth century French walnut fire surround, which was purchased before the home was built.

Creating a sense of history in a new home is a subtle art, since old buildings are most often built up layer by layer, with each generation adding their own personal touches.

For the designers of this master bathroom, arriving at a sense of time and place in this case, an eighteenth-century Italian farmhouse was only achieved after months of research, trips to Italy, and carefully choreographed design.

What fired the project was a clear vision from the owners and the design team about what was needed, says designer Julian Cohen. The house needed to reflect an Italian vernacular to satisfy the owners' affinity with traditional Italian design, and to complement their organic vineyard.

And in one of those rare moments of serendipity, a photograph in a book showing an Italian interior inspired the husband and wife design team, and the owners, with a clear direction for the project.

The result is a master bathroom with a rough-hewn, relaxed feel. Stand-alone furniture, a beamed roof, and large terra cotta floor tiles combine to create a traditional ambiance.


A view of Eighteenth Century Italian Architecture was bathroom, cabinetry, countertop, interior design, kitchen, room, sink, gray, brown
A view of Eighteenth Century Italian Architecture was starting point for the deisgn of this new home. The master bathroom combines rustic materials, such as terra cotta tiles, with more refined touches.

"Over and over again, you'll find terra cotta floors in Italy, so we decided to use the idea here," he says.

The tiles, which were custom made in Italy, have a traditional waxed finish and a rustic look that evokes a rural home. The beamed ceiling, with its sky-blue paintwork, is also based on Italian vernacular architecture. The beams were designed to look structural, and installed in some rooms, but not others.

"This was done to create a sense of living history," says Cohen. "It's as if the whole house has been continually worked on over the years."

For the same reason, the window openings in the house are either arched, tapered, or, like those in master bathroom, straight. Nothing is systematic or strictly themed, says Marie Cohen, the interior designer for the house.

"We've created a casual, asymmetric look, but there are little touches of elegance amid the rusticity, which is very European," says Cohen.

A view of Eighteenth Century Italian Architecture was ceiling, door, floor, flooring, home, house, interior design, real estate, room, window, wood flooring, brown, gray
A view of Eighteenth Century Italian Architecture was starting point for the deisgn of this new home. The master bathroom combines rustic materials, such as terra cotta tiles, with more refined touches.

Building a new house allowed the designers to choose the best orientation for the rooms, and to introduce eco-friendly features many of them based on traditional architectural practices.

"People usually use the bathroom first thing in the morning, so we positioned the room so that the morning sun cascades through the sheer drapes," Cohen says.

"The white walls, freestanding tub and marble tops create a light and fresh feel, while the terra cotta tiles and beamed ceiling bring warmth to the room and help to ground it."

The windows on the south side of the house, including the master bathroom and bedroom, have deep sills and shutters, typical of Mediterranean houses. During the day, the shutters can be closed to keep the rooms cool. The 18-inch-thick walls on this side of the house another traditional touch are insulated for passive cooling. Photovoltaic cells provide all the home's electricity, and passive solar energy contributes to the underfloor heating.

Aug 27, 2007

Credit list

Interior designer
Julian and Marie Cohen, ARC Design
Vanity
Custom designed by ARC Design; built by Solid Woods
Cabinetry
Custom stain
Basin
Waterworks
Flooring
Villa Toscana in terra cotta by Italy Home
Tiles
Avalon Antiqued from ASN
Chair fabric
Sutton from Cowtan & Tout
Drapery hardware
Custom design by Marie Cohen; made by Iron Horse Iron Works
Main contractor
Molofsky Builders
Vanity counter
Carrara marble; built by North Bay Monument
Bathtub
Waterworks
Faucets and shower fittings
Highgate in nickel from Waterworks
Wallcoverings
Benjamin Moore and American Clay
Chair
Daphne Chair from National Upholstery Company
Drapes
Designed by Marie Cohen
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