Building a house on the side of a cliff is not an easy endeavor. That’s why Kim and Carolyne Megonigal put together an experienced crew they knew they could trust.
Among the team was interior designer Courtney Zeithing, who is Carolyne’s sister, along with architect David Olson, and builder Robert McCarthy, a close friend. “This was a family affair,” Carolyne explains. “It was a labor of love for all of us.”
The result is a modern home that cantilevers over the edge, offering panoramic views of California’s Newport Bay and the ocean beyond.
Zeithing consulted closely with the architect on the entire project, helping to select finishes throughout.
“There’s a balance of materials that’s pretty consistent,” Zeithing explains of the mix of stone walls, custom mahogany cabinetry and metal details, such as the sculptural stairway that connects all four floors.
“We like the same things, so it was easy and really fun,” Carolyne says of working with her sister on the project. It’s a sentiment both siblings share.
“We spent days and days together,” Zeithing explains, noting that they agreed on nearly everything. “We enjoy each other’s company, so it was great to be able to spend so much extra time with her.”
There’s a little bit of magic to this house,” designer Marcus Mohon says of the southern European-inspired home he decorated for a couple in Austin. “It makes you want to sit down and linger.” Overlooking Barton Creek, the spacious abode exudes approachable old-world elegance through cozy furnishings and mottled-stone walls. “Every space is stylish but comfortable,” the designer says. “We eliminated the concepts of ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ from the interiors.”
After purchasing one of the last available lots in the coveted neighborhood, the owners collaborated with their close friends architect Gary Koerner and landscape designer James Hyatt, whose project manager was Christopher Olson, to develop the basic form of their new dwelling. This resulted in a U-shaped home, in which the main living areas are flanked by the kitchen and the master bedroom. Taking advantage of the breeze and magnificent views, the residence also features outdoor living spaces with a pool in the center. “This property is about various courtyards and rooms that bend around a large courtyard to the rear of the house,” Koerner explains.
A feeling of privacy sinks in from the moment guests approach the front door, accessed through an outdoor entrance behind a courtyard with an antique gate. Adding to the ambience, a gas-burning lantern ties in with both the large glass-and-steel entry door and the steel windows throughout the home, which enhance the views. “We designed the windows to be oversized, with glass to the floor, so your eye is drawn outside when you enter the room,” explains architect Charles Travis, who further developed the original plans and designed the interior architecture. It’s one of the thoughtful ways the team injected contemporary elements into the design. “There’s a seamless blending of different architectural themes that gives this house an authenticity,” Travis says.
It was in this spirit that builder David Dalgleish and his crew approached the project, utilizing time-tested techniques. “The owners were interested in authentic craftsmanship,” he explains. The plaster on the walls, for example, was mixed on site and shows bits of sand in its composition. The stone walls were hand-chiseled and sanded to enhance the aged appearance. And the wrought-iron railings along the outdoor areas were forged and twisted without relying on welding tools. “Even though the home features materials used in southern France centuries ago, they were used in a very crisp, edited way.” Travis says. Case in point: When Dalgleish, who also installed the massive reclaimed ceiling beams, laid the limestone flooring, he carefully detailed the line between the flooring and the plaster walls with a razor blade. “When you can’t cover something up with a piece of trim, there’s no tolerance for error,” he says.
With a simple materials palette as the foundation, Mohon’s selection of furnishings and artwork brings the home to life. “The interiors reflect the wife’s wardrobe of textural neutrals and elegant, understated jewelry, combined with an old-world attitude,” he says. A tactile hide rug layered atop a larger area rug, for example, introduces texture to the living room and defines a seating area featuring a number of custom pieces, including a chaise and a sofa near a large stone fireplace mantel.
Along one wall in the space, a tapestry hangs above a deep-brown antique wood table, punctuating the neutral palette. “A little touch of iron and dark wood creates a strong contrast and highlights everything else,” Mohon says. Likewise, in the adjacent dining room, a striking iron-and-wood chandelier illuminates a sofa settee and a mix of chairs around a circular table.
Nearby, in the kitchen, the designer paired white-oak cabinetry with marble countertops and a monolithic custom-plaster hood. A pair of simple iron pendants illuminate the mammoth-sized island, which is equipped with ample storage space, and tie in with the large-scale sconces flanking the range. “They look like a pencil sketch–a simplified version of an older lantern,” Mohon says. And throughout the home, many bespoke touches exist in the form of doors, like the ornate antique one from Spain the designer customized for the powder room and the leather-paneled doors that mark the entrance to the walnut-paneled den.
Now settled into their European-inspired abode, the owners linger in every room, especially the large outdoor living area–an ideal spot for entertaining visitors or simply sharing wine and conversation with each other. “They love the house,” Mohon says. “It functions great for their large family or just the two of them.”
For designer Carter Kay, the owners of a particular Buckhead townhouse in Atlanta are more than clients—they are friends, former neighbors and fellow parents. Perhaps that’s why she’s successfully devised interiors to fit their lives throughout several moves and two decades. “We met when we were neighbors on Broadland Road and raising our children,” says the husband. “One summer, Carter went with us to Paris and helped us select furnishings. Since that trip, she’s done four more primary homes for us, using all the same pieces.” Adds the wife: “We loved what she did, and we haven’t even thought about buying new furniture. We enjoy our things now as much as we did 20 years ago.”
But when the couple’s two sons left the proverbial nest, that concept was put to the test. Having lived in large homes for many years, they decided to downsize to a four-story townhouse better reflective of their new family dynamics. Kay’s time-tested instincts told her what her clients were after, so, working in concert with design partner Nancy Hooff and project manager Catherine Branstetter, she tapped residential designer Caroline Reu Rolader and general contractor Kevin Kleinhelter to make the new residence a fit. “Before the remodel, this was a typical 1980s townhouse with small rooms and a confined kitchen that didn’t suit the wife, who loves to cook,” Kay explains. “We worked with Caroline and Kevin to get the bones just right—then we added the icing on the cake.”
Rolader knew transforming the kitchen would indeed be a priority. “The traditional floor plan was rather dated,” she notes. “All of the rooms were separated from one another, and the kitchen was enclosed; working in there would have felt very removed.” She solved the problem by opening the cooking space to the adjacent living and dining rooms on one side and the keeping room on the other. A wet bar was quickly converted into a working pantry—a place where the wife can not only store sundries, but also use small appliances beyond the sight lines of guests. Kay took the newly expanded kitchen as an opportunity to make a design statement by painting the cabinets a spirited marigold. “My past two kitchens were white, so I was more than ready for some color,” says the wife.
As the project continued, the team focused on expanding and simplifying, making doorways larger and wider to link rooms and share light while eschewing ornate molding in favor of more streamlined trim. “A simple backdrop was best for their eclectic furniture and art,” says Rolader, nodding to a collection ranging from Auguste Garufi to Dennis Campay, and even including a work by Kay’s son, Colorado abstractionist Will Kay. Upstairs, all interior walls on the fourth floor were removed, turning the home’s topmost level into a loft-like office for the husband.
As design moved on to the decorative layer, the couple’s cherished collection of furniture and art served as an indispensable guide. “The wife documented all of the items she wanted to use, so we were able to take them into account during the design process, making sure there were places for the art and furniture,” Rolader explains. And that’s precisely how this residential designer prefers to work. “I love incorporating pieces that have meaning and memories,” she says. “That approach shows personality, and too often that’s something you don’t see. A home should be a living, breathing extension of the owners themselves.”
Kay believes the key to selecting furniture and art that would last these clients the better part of their lives was focusing on the classics and listening to the heart. “Classic will stand the test of time—be it a Jean-Michel Frank chair or a Directoire-style chest,” she notes. “You should also purchase things that speak to you. When I was shopping in Paris with the couple, we weren’t looking for anything in particular, but we ended up finding a chest, a desk and a pair of French chairs—as well as several other antique pieces. The idea is that they bought things they loved, and those pieces are still with them today. For this house, we purchased just one new piece of furniture: a smaller dining table.”
The third key, Kay says, is to buy pieces that will survive the years. “If you want something that will last forever, invest in heirloom quality,” she notes. “Many of the owners’ pieces, such as a pair of French armchairs covered in velvet, only get better with age.”
But just because the homeowners didn’t purchase new furniture doesn’t mean it doesn’t look new. “Carter’s genius is adapting the things we love to a new place,” the wife expresses. “The way she has arranged it here, everything feels new again.” One could say the owners have a fresh perspective of their own, too. “This house is warm and welcoming,” says the husband. “We feel like we are living our dream of a city life.”
When it comes to decorating styles, sisters Abigail Vickers Cowan, Emily Vickers Kowal and Devon Vickers Davenport, cofounders of Denver home goods shop Worthing Co., are as different as can be, but each seems to have acquired the gene for skillfully mixing old and new. “We inherited our love of finding unique furniture from our grandmother, who took the time to teach my mom, who in turn taught us,” Cowan says. “All three of us think outside the box: Just because a door is a door doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a shelf or a headboard.”
That ethos is evident in the trio’s new Highlands Square house-turned-shop, where stylish accessories–from Pickwick & Co. candles to vinyl floor cloths in eye-catching vintage patterns–complement one-of-a-kind industrial- and farmhouse-style furnishings and accents. “When we select furniture for the shop, we look for character; something that looks like it has lived a long life,” Cowan says. “We definitely see the beauty in the proof of history.”
There’s something special about seeing your art come to life, and award-winning designer and artist Elizabeth Sutton is about to do just that on a citywide scale. In collaboration with leading paint provider Janovic, Sutton has created five distinct color palettes of Benjamin Moore paints.
Each one will live large in Janovic NYC stores, murals in Yorkville and Hell’s Kitchen, and vinyls in Chelsea and Long Island City. Inspired by Sutton’s experiences, the palettes have whimsical names like “Head in the Clouds” and “New York Goes to the Eden Rock, St. Barth’s,” a nod to Sutton’s partnership with the luxury hotel.
“All my designs are inspired by my love of color,” Sutton says. “I wanted to give my eye to Janovic customers, encouraging them to bring a splash of color to the special spaces in their homes, as I do in my own.”
A ccording to interior designer Holly Ogden, a house with well-proportioned rooms is the best primer for timeless and tailored decor. When it came to a home in Arcadia by residential designer Alan Gorzynski, Ogden had a canvas with practically perfect scale. “The clients had specific ideas about square footage and not being wasteful,” she says. “Every space has great intention in terms of how it’s used. From an interior design standpoint, this allows us to keep things well-edited and simple.”
The homeowners, Nancy and Adam Millstein–a couple with two grown children–moved from northeast Scottsdale to Arcadia to be closer to the vibrant city center. “We wanted a change,” says Nancy, who is retired from mortgage banking, which continues to be her husband’s line of work. “This house is a three-minute bike ride to downtown, where all the shopping and restaurants are.” Still, there’s a feeling of being removed from the hustle and bustle, as the backyard faces Camelback Mountain. “This part of the city is very lush,” Nancy says. “There are rolling lawns and orange, grapefruit, pomegranate, fig and olive trees everywhere.”
Although the lot was idyllic, the existing home left something to be desired. “It was built in the 1950s, and the roof was caving in,” Nancy explains. “It wasn’t salvageable.” The couple cleared the parcel and commissioned Gorzynski to design a 5,500-square foot structure that would fit with the architectural fabric of the neighborhood. “You could call what we created a French look,” he says. “It’s soft-spoken and elegant.” Steeply pitched roofs, wood shutters and a low perimeter wall made of stacked Telluride stone mark the front elevation, which features bright, textured cladding. “The exterior siding is washed with white mortar and is a combination of stucco and reclaimed Chicago brick,” says general contractor Brett Brimley, who managed the construction.
While the faÃ§ade is reminiscent of something you might see in the French countryside, the interior displays a different aesthetic. “It’s a little more modern and clean,” Gorzynski says. There’s virtually no detailing or casework around the doors, walls or windows, which are framed with black aluminum for a minimalist look. The layout, however, is less straightforward. “It’s a meandering floor plan, which makes it more comfortable and interesting,” the residential designer says. “When things are perfectly centered or symmetrical, a home is stagnant.”
The fresh spaces gave Ogden a blank slate to create an equally elegant interior. “The house has a very warm, approachable feel,” she says. “Because there’s not a lot of color or pattern, I overemphasized texture.” Playing off the honed-limestone fireplace in the living room, she chose a sectional sofa wrapped in textured linen, wing chairs covered in black leather and a wood coffee table that references the space’s wood ceiling beams. “The different textures and finishes add layers,” she explains.
In the nearby dining room, she juxtaposed wood, leather and metal, outfitting the space with a cantilevered wenge-wood buffet, leather chairs, chrome chandeliers and a 14-foot-long walnut dining table–perfect for the clients, who love to entertain.
Throughout the home, furniture silhouettes combine classic and contemporary styles. “I like it when you love a room but can’t put your finger on what exactly makes it what it is,” Ogden says. “My goal is to look at an interior as a whole.” The living room’s wing chairs and collection of antique Chinese pottery are traditional, but the low-slung sectional and the coffee table have more of a modernist presence. And although the interior designer gave the entry a classic feel with a traditional-style settee and an oil portrait, she set a contemporary tone in the master suite by appointing a custom-upholstered bed with clean lines and an understated chaise lounge. “My clients wanted the master to feel like a chic city hotel,” she explains.
Outside, landscape designer Jeremy McVicars matched the grounds to the house using DC Ranch stone, iceberg roses, Little Ollie hedges and Bradford pear trees. “We created a nice mixture of formal plantings with more organic wall and paving materials to have a transitional relaxed feeling,” he says.
A fresh escape in a vibrant area, the Millsteins’ new home is a comfortable haven for the couple–not too big, not too small, but just right. “There’s a wonderful humanistic scale,” Ogden says. “This house is more about what we didn’t do as opposed to what we did. It’s thoughtful and restrained.”
First impressions are undoubtedly important, but they can also be deceiving. For instance, this sprawling Coral Gables residence with deep eaves and wide covered porches, despite its Old Florida-style charm, is actually a recent addition to its posh gated community. And though the home’s orderly faÃ§ade conveys a certain formality, a more casual vibe prevails indoors. “Our style isn’t entirely traditional, but it isn’t modern either,” the wife says. “We found a good balance.”
That sense of equilibrium took a while to achieve. Three-and-a-half years ago, the couple–then parents of two young children–outgrew their Miami Beach apartment and embarked on an extensive house hunt. Ultimately, they decided on a 1970s home set on a 1 1/4-acre lakefront lot complemented by a hammock of old-growth live oak trees. “The house didn’t really have the proper layout for us,” the husband recalls, “but we couldn’t find anything else we liked.”
A new structure was clearly in order, and to produce one that would suit their needs, the couple turned to an accomplished team that had already worked together on several projects: designers Charlotte Dunagan and Thomas Diverio, architect David Johnson and general contractor Tom Mackle. The entire endeavor required nearly three years, as the team pored over every detail. “We went back and forth for months on the design of the moldings alone,” Diverio says.
When it came to the big picture, maximizing the property’s best assets was a top priority. To emphasize the stunning waterfront view, Johnson emulated a convention of Old Florida-style homes: He ran a central corridor from the front door straight to the back of the house, perfectly aligning it with the swimming pool in the yard and the lake just beyond. Dunagan and Diverio meticulously played up the interior spaces by specifying the striking combination of dark walnut flooring, white walls and moldings and light-colored linen draperies throughout. Walnut is also employed on the kitchen’s custom island, which highlights the white perimeter cabinetry, while Calacatta marble counters and a mosaic-tile backsplash add a note of elegance. “There is a lot of white in this house, and walnut is a nice way to break it up and add warmth,” Dunagan says.
Accents in many shades of blue were also used to add interest to the light and airy backdrop. “The clients love a casual-elegant look with a beachy vibe,” Dunagan says. “The house is a reflection of who they are.” In front of the living room’s custom fireplace, for instance, a striped navy rug offers a cozy contrast to armchairs upholstered in camel-colored wool and white linen. In the dining area, indigo tufted chairs with paisley-print backs soften the clean-lined mahogany table.
A vibrant triptych and a blue sectional sofa bring a primary-colored punch to the family room, where multiple textures appear courtesy of a rattan chair, a raffia-wrapped coffee table, a sisal rug and a chandelier made of beads and pearls. The tongue-and-groove paneled ceiling, accentuated by exposed beams stained to match driftwood Dunagan found at the beach, gives the room “a more casual flair,” she says, “and the chandelier adds oomph.”
The mood is more subdued in the master bedroom, where a neutral grass-cloth wallcovering stands out against the glossy white moldings, window casings and ceiling. The subtle slate hue on the bench at the foot of the bed is echoed in the adjacent master bathroom’s pale-blue marble-topped vanity, custom basket-weave floor tile and standalone shower.
Like most of the home’s prominent spaces, the master bedroom and bathroom feature French doors that open to a vista of the manicured grounds by landscape designer Michael Sapusek. A screen of tall Alexander palms blocks the neighboring house from view and “creates a graceful, wispy edge that drives the focus toward the backyard,” he explains. On the front lawn, he planted several large oak trees that appear indigenous to the property. “It was neat to see a house be transformed, in a matter of days, so it looks like it has been there forever,” Sapusek says.
And just as the Old Florida-style structure seems to have existed for generations, the owners, who have since welcomed a third child into their family, intend to enjoy the residence for years to come. “Building the home was a really fun experience,” the husband says. “It ended up being one of the biggest events we’ve experienced in our life so far.”
At first glance, the handcrafted pieces that comprise Colorado custom furniture company Sjotime Industries’ first line of ready-made residential furnishings are striking in their simplicity.
Crafted of white oak, these modern tables, seats and accessories rely on subtle details—notched tops that expose the end grain of subtly angled legs, the linear quality of rift-sawn wood—to catch the eye. But according to Sjotime (pronounced “show time”) founder Dan Sjogren, this style, which takes cues from Scandinavian furniture designs, is anything but simple. “The attention to detail, the primacy of materials in their natural state and the elegance of execution and composition…is a very challenging aesthetic to achieve,” he says.
To pull it off, he and his team use modern technology and time-tested techniques to build each piece. The finished products are sold online and, as of last summer, at the Sjo Room, a storefront in Denver’s Golden Triangle neighborhood that Sjogren designed to feel like an apartment. “There’s an uncluttered, Scandinavian vibe to the interiors that’s meant to highlight the personality of each piece while giving customers a feel for how the furniture and artwork might work in their own homes,” he says.
Driving through suburban New Jersey, it’s common to glimpse old, gracious homes through the trees. At first sight, this shingled dwelling appears similar to its 19th-century neighbors, but the crisp black-and-white exterior hints that this home offers something a bit different. As architect Douglas Wright says, “This is a Shingle-style with swagger.”
The home is nearly two decades younger than many of the nearby buildings, and the originality that is foreshadowed on the exterior becomes a full-blown artistic expression inside, which was the goal of the owners, a creative couple with a taste for the unconventional.
When they purchased the land, it contained a 1950s-era house that had been built after a larger lot was divided. “The former house had many quirks, and there was no way to update it to the clients’ taste,” says Wright. So, they decided to raze the existing building and start anew. “They wanted the exterior to have a seaside, Hamptons feel,” says Wright. “But they also wanted to do something appropriate to this area.”
The architect, along with interior designer Fawn Galli and general contractor Brinton Brosius, created an interior that indulges in modernity with nods to the past. “The detailing inside is tradition in the abstract,” Wright says. “For example, the molding suggests the delicate, curving trim of the more senior homes in the area, but is more clean-lined and angular.” According to Brosius, that molding is a prime example of the bespoke elements that define the house. “None of these details are anything you can just go to a store and buy,” Brosius says. “It was all made by us for this home.”
The idea of handcrafted, personality-driven design was picked up by Galli for the interiors. “My inspiration was the owners and their sensibilities,” she says. “Like them, the decor is unselfconsciously hip.” That translates into spaces like the dining room located near the entry, whose statement piece is a table that’s literally crawling with character. “It’s white and covered with black images of ants, beetles, millipedes and moths–absolutely the last things you’d want to see where you eat,” the interior designer says. “The piece makes a gesture of surrealism and fantasy that keeps things interesting.” The insect-adorned item is juxtaposed with a heavily ornamented 18th-century commode and more clean-lined elements such as midcentury influenced chairs and the linear, bulb-encrusted light fixture.
That’s not to say every aspect of the home is high-spirited. “The way you make it work is to allow the punchy elements to exist between restful, neutral moments,” Galli says. “By balancing them, you create an interior that’s engaging and interesting, but also quiet and comfortable.” The living room, though marked by exclamation points like bright-pink ottomans with brass bases and a rose-colored glass lamp, falls into the restful category. The soft gray walls are the backdrop for a custom, L-shaped sofa upholstered with a plush fabric. Equally cush are a pair of overstuffed leather chairs and a vintage Viggo Boesen chair covered with a fluffy, off-white lambskin.
Another room with quiet notes is the master bedroom, done in soothing shades of purple and gray. Pale lilac walls establish an air of calm, as does a custom bed in a sumptuous deep-purple velvet. Silver tones found in the sunburst print on the drapes crafted from Jim Thompson fabric and in the abstract pattern of the wool-and-silk rug from Chused & Co add both texture and soft color.
Because outside living is very important to the family, landscape architect Cheryl Brown and landscape designer James Doyle created grounds that, similar to the interior, play with classicism and present-day cool. “We have a very traditional, symmetrical design that’s mixed with contemporary elements,” Brown says. “There are boxwoods alongside wilder-looking native plants; a lawn sized for tossing a football with the kids and areas for grilling.” A pool house with massive glass doors provides an oasis for those enjoying the outdoors. “The wife wanted to load up a golf cart, drive it down to the pool house and not need to return to the main house for the entire day,” Wright says. “Everything they need is here.”
The same might be said for the entire project. “When we met, they were spending many summer weekends away,” says Wright. “But after the house was completed, that’s tapered off significantly. In a place like this, being at home is like a vacation.”
The vibrantly colored, quintessential prints that made American fashion designer and socialite Lilly Pulitzer a Palm Beach icon have adorned shirts, skirts and the brand’s iconic shift dresses for decades. (Fun fact: The intricate designs were originally intended to camouflage juice stains when Pulitzer operated fruit stands back in the 1950s.)
Now, thanks to an exclusive service offered only at the Worth Avenue flagship boutique in Palm Beach, Florida, ladies can snag a textured gold crossbody bag or cork-inspired clutch with nailhead detailing, both bearing the signature “Lilly” emblem, and hire the shop’s in-house artist Melissa Sixma Lingo to hand paint a design of their choosing.
Whether it’s a theme borrowed from one of the line’s popular prints, like “Pinking Positive” or “Mermaid in the Shade,” or a portrait of your prized pooch, one thing’s for sure: Your custom Lilly bag is one you won’t see coming and going.