The Victorian Big Battery based in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne, will have a capacity of 450 megawatt-hours and will play an important role in Australia’s transition from coal-fired electricity generation to renewables. The new facility will store roughly enough energy to power 500,000 homes for an hour. It will also be used to modernise and stabilise the energy grid in Victoria, where the government has set a policy objective of delivering half of the state’s energy requirement via renewables by 2030.
When the timing was finally right, the couple commissioned interior designer Ivette Arango and architect Antonio E. Rodriguez to realize their vision. The result is a one-level contemporary stucco home with oversize doors and windows that frame views of the lush grounds and innovative water features, giving the home the effect of a peaceful island escape.
At the front of the residence, a keystone walkway leads across a serene pool to the entry door, which is protected by an overhang with an ipe wood ceiling. Cantilevered over the water, the house appears to be floating; even its rooflines seem to hover over one another, creating the feeling of several cabanas grouped together, as though it is a resort. “The property is like an oasis,” Rodriguez says. “Although it’s modern with lots of glass, it’s still a cozy house with a really nice tropical feel.”
The foyer opens to the double-height formal living area, where a fire box accented with a heavily textured porcelain complements the home’s large-scale porcelain tile flooring. Maintaining the focus on the lush backyard, Arango kept the home’s walls white and covered the tailored furnishings in a soothing palette of neutral-colored fabrics. “Everything relates, and it feels good when you walk in,” she says. “Nothing jumps out at you.”
In this way, the design honors the clean-lined interior architecture, which features recessed baseboards and open corridors unobstructed by headers. The lighting is equally subtle–and just as important, especially for highlighting the owners’ art collection displayed throughout the residence. “Lighting creates a background,” Arango explains. “It gives the room the mood you want, and it enhances the art and furniture.” The living area’s domed ceiling is back lit, with a merger track system that allows for spotlights to be added to highlight particular artworks and walls. “We like to do a lot of special details with our ceilings, because this is the fifth wall in the room,” says general contractor Ken Gomberg. In the family room, a wood veneer-paneled ceiling that cascades down one wall is illuminated from behind. And also lit from the back, the onyx backsplash of the space’s wet bar appears to glow.
While the new construction fulfills the clients’ desires for different gathering areas, the private spaces have not been overlooked. In the master bedroom, for instance, Arango upholstered the wall behind the bed in fabric and housed the TV within sycamore wood wall panels, creating an enveloping feeling. “This room embraces you,” she says.
Like all the prominent spaces, the master bedroom opens to the backyard, where landscape designer Jesse Plasencia incorporated celestial palms, large oaks to fill in the existing canopy and black ironwoods around the perimeter, blocking views of the neighbors. “It’s completely private and has a resort-like feel,” Plasencia says. “It’s tranquil.”
Adding to that feeling are the property’s many covered patios, which include spaces for exterior living and dining. Detached structures flank the swimming pool behind the home–a guest cabana with its own poolside patio, and a covered seating area in front of a fire pit. “I’m very earthy, and I like the stone, fire and water concept,” the wife says.
Just as the owners envisioned, their new home provides something for everyone, including plenty of room for their children’s friends. And despite its contemporary look, the residence is far from cold, offering a feeling of tranquility without fail. “Even when we come home from vacation, we have that ‘ah’ moment,” the wife says. “It’s such a wonderful space.”
When a Chicago couple with three children decided they wanted a lifestyle change, it set them on an adventure that landed them more than 1,000 miles away in the house of their dreams. “We realized we could live anywhere, as long as it was near an airport,” remembers the husband. “So, we started thinking about where that place would be.” Although they spent hours considering the ideal location, they kept coming back to Colorado, given the happy childhood memories the husband had of camping and skiing with his family in Steamboat Springs. As they researched the perfect town, all signs seemed to point to Boulder, Colorado. “It has everything we want—including access to nature and better weather,” the husband notes.
With their location determined, they set out to build their dream house. “We found a lot in an awesome neighborhood that offers both nature and a great community,” says the husband. “We wanted our kids to spend a ton of time outside, and this neighborhood has great access to trails.”
The next part of the adventure involved building a structure that made the most of the site while allowing the homeowners to live the family life they envisioned. Since they would be managing the project remotely, working with a team they could trust was key. “They were only on the job site a handful of times, and the trust they put in us was extraordinary,” says general contractor Tom Stanko. “Every person there knew the family had a lot of faith in us, and we did our best to give them the house they wanted.”
What that looked like was hard to categorize. The homeowners came to architects Dale Hubbard and Kim Cattau and residential designer Anna Slowey with the idea of a modern farmhouse. “The thing about that term is that it has been used so often, it can mean just about anything,” says Hubbard. “But after talking with the clients, we realized that what they wanted was a family compound on their land—something with deconstructed massing, like a group of buildings you’d find on a traditional farm. We also realized that they wanted ornament that was deliberate, utilitarian and almost industrial in feel.” Slowey notes that the choice of color palette and crisp details advance the concept of a modern farmhouse. “Everything is crisp and beautifully articulated,” she says. “We took the traditional idea of a black and white color palette and modified it a bit, nothing here is a true black—the dark color comes from blackened steel. It gives the house a clean, modern feel.”
The house became a U-shaped structure that, at first glance, resembles a cluster of buildings. In this configuration, one wing is for the bedrooms, the other is a guest suite and in between—or the bottom part of the U—is the public space comprising the entry and a combined great room, kitchen and dining room.
One of the forces that propelled this family from the Midwest to the mountains was a desire for their kids to live outside. With that in mind, Cattau says that the architects designed the house from the “inside out,” making access to the yard and the open spaces beyond priority. “We worked to make the volumes inside feel good, they are comfortable and flow together—it’s an easy space to be in,” she says. “But we also worked to make sure that all those rooms have access or sight lines to the yard and the hills.” In practice, this means that someone could get up from the kitchen table and walk unimpeded through the large sliding doors and into the pool, if they are so inclined. The same goes for the ground-level master suite.
The outdoor space, executed in concert with landscape architect Luke Sanzone, looks like a residential version of a mountain resort. After all, it contains the aforementioned pool, an in-ground spa, a generous lawn and a large fire pit all set against the backdrop of rolling mountains. But this is sophistication for all ages; the boulders surrounding the pool are set in a way that allows kids to climb and, most importantly, leap into the pool. “The home is designed with a series of little landing spots and places to retreat,” says Slowey. “The landscape is no different, it has very intentional destinations to gather. The whole backyard has a very fun feeling.”
It’s a feeling that flows upstairs to the kids’ rooms, which were crafted not only for rest, but for sleepovers with cousins who visit frequently. “We worked in collaboration with designer Megan Hudacky on all the rooms, and we wanted to make the boys’ room feel a bit like a sleepaway camp,” says Slowey. Adds Hubbard, “you could look at the entire project as a sanctuary.”
And after the stress of relocating, a sanctuary was what was called for. “To pack up and move like that was scary,” says the husband. “But it was so much fun to have the vision, and then execute it. Today we walk around in the house we dreamed about, and watch our kids enjoy it as we hoped.” This is one leap of faith that had a happy landing.
In the shadow of Sedona’s red rock formations, The Retreat at Miraval Arizona is a new way to experience a luxurious getaway to refresh both the body and soul.
The resort’s 22 modular, elegant villas and suites with up to three bedrooms combine privacy and community with separate entrances, private pools or spas, indoor-to-outdoor showers and spectacular views. The barrier to nature dissolves via the custom designed, fully retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors, making the splendor of the Sonoran Desert part of your own personal living space.
Exclusive experiences at The Retreat include Life in Balance Spa wellness services, community art projects and private, in-suite culinary experiences. Continue the serenity you find at The Retreat and bring home items from the exclusive Miraval collection, including bedding, robes, candles and crystals.
Betsy Nathan has always been a collector. The daughter of a renowned Chicago gallerist, she grew up surrounded by an eclectic mix of fine and folk art and objects curated from around the world. After a stint in Beijing in the 1990s, where she studied Chinese craftsmanship, she returned to Chicago to open her first showroom, Pagoda Red, in 1997. Last year she moved into a vastly larger warehouse space in Bucktown, where her entire 4,000-piece collection of global fine arts and antiques is now available for designers and the public alike to browse. While there are many treasures to be discovered at Pagoda Red, we called on Nathan to share a few of her other favorite spots for sourcing goods around the city.
ROBIN RICHMAN BUCKTOWN
“Robin is amazing at creating interesting juxtapositions between clothes, jewelry and accessories. I go here to buy Mad et Len Lava Rocks, which are infused with perfume. They release an earthy spirit when you burn them, and I like to use them in the powder room.”
LE LABO WICKER PARK
“In China, I had an otherworldly experience when a friend introduced me to traditional incense–the kind that oozes from trees. It’s impossible to find locally, but it turned me on to rich, gentle, moody fragrances and beautiful incense burners to disperse them. I recently purchased Le Labo‘s amulet (a portable diffuser) as a gift for a friend. It becomes very personal when you infuse the stone within with a hand-blended fragrance specially made for the person you are giving it to.”
ASRAI GARDEN WICKER PARK
“Pagoda Red and Asrai Gardenopened around the same time. We grew up together, so the designers understand our objects and containers. They know how to marry nature’s shapes and colors in fresh, modern ways. They use flowers and greens to frame, rather than overpower, a select object.”
INTERIOR DEFINE LINCOLN PARK
“If you don’t want to wait months for a sofa, Interior Define is a great choice. They feel custom, the process is easy and the price can’t be beat. I’m working with a client now who wants her place finished fast, so we just ordered the Sloan Sectional in a plush onyx fabric.”
PHOTOS: ROBIN RICHMAN, ROBIN RICHMAN; LE LABO, COURTESY LE LABO; ASRAI GARDEN, LUCY HEWETT; INTERIOR DEFINE, CAROLINA MARIANA RODRIGUEZ.
Inspired by furniture designer Sam Maloof, along with Danish modernist icons Finn Juhl and Hans Wegner, former U.S. military officer and woodland firefighter Justin Nelson began Fernweh Woodworking out of his Bend, Oregon, garage workshop in 2015.
A self-taught woodworker who is just as passionate about design, Nelson has a catalog of small-batch minimalist tables (such as the Tripod Tables, below) and chairs, all designed and produced in-house. “I view myself as just a beginner woodworker and designer, and to some extent I hope to always feel that way,” he says. “No matter how much you learn, you should always be overwhelmed and excited by the oceans of things yet to be discovered. I hope to do my small part to keep the craft of woodworking not only alive, but fresh.”
When asked about his 2020 plans, Nelson dreams big: He plans to incorporate several more pieces into his line, including a dining chair, a contemporary lounge chair and ottoman set, and a new ottoman design for his current award-winning sling chair, Fernweh’s inaugural design (above). Nelson intends to move his company’s headquarters to a larger space in Bend as well.
I want to design houses that feel good versus ones that look decorated,” says designer Alison Davin, who transformed a Tuscan-style residence in the Bay Area into a warm and modernist home that’s filled with tactile fabrics and finishes.
From the moment the designer laid eyes on the house, she knew she wanted to peel back the dated details and simplify the aesthetic by filling the rooms with comfortable and tailored silhouettes and plenty of sunlight.
“The property is on several acres and steps down a hillside with three different grades,” she says. “My clients are very easy-going and they bought the house because they wanted it to be a hangout for their children and their friends as they grow up.”
Davin went with a mostly neutral palette. She customized a sofa wrapped in cream-colored linen for the family room, where she also arranged a brown-and-cream striated wool rug, cream-colored embroidered drapery linen and a pair of rush stools.
“I used a whole bunch of different textures,” she says. “I love using texture instead of color because I think it keeps the space calm and warm and gives visual interest that’s subtle.”
In the family room, the designer replaced small arched doors with massive bifold ones that tie the area to the outdoors and let natural light wash over the rich textures that fill the space.
“I think I’ve done a good job if, when a person leaves a house I’ve designed, they remember that it was warm and comfortable,” she says.
There are many reasons to update a home: to make it more current, to expand, or simply to change things up.
All of the above applied for the owners of an Aspen house, but the couple also found another, far more unique reason to invest in a big renovation: uninvited bears.
“They came in through the screens before we had air conditioning,” the wife explains, noting that one giant even feasted on leftover birthday cake.
In addition to adding A/C, interior designer Maria Bordelon and architect Gretchen Greenwood took the home in a more modern direction by installing metal-frame windows, incorporating textural furnishings and introducing unique accents, such as a console table with a glossy automotive finish and beaten copper wall panels.
“We used metals throughout the house but very judiciously to provide a little relief from the heavier materials,” Bordelon explains, noting the result is a far cry from the look the dwelling sported in the 1993 cult film Aspen Extreme when it had a swimming pool in the basement and a rather dated sunken conversation pit. “Everywhere the owners look, something is beautiful, and they enjoy that as their daily environment.”
This house is a great example of how contemporary can be really warm,” says designer Kam Davies of a residence she recently designed for a young family in Snowmass Village, Colorado. “There’s just something approachable about it. It’s meant to be lived in.”
The homeowners, Christine and Andrew Light, had been living in San Francisco but wanted to return to the Centennial State and give their children the outdoor lifestyle–skiing, hiking and biking–that Andrew had enjoyed as a kid. They also envisioned a house that allowed them to enjoy the surroundings right from the comfort of home.
The resulting design offers massive windows and an L-shaped deck, all of which focus on Mount Daly in the distance. “We wanted to maximize views and get light in at every opportunity,” says architect Bill Lueck, who added dormers to the upper floor, as well as a large glass panel at the entrance.
Inside, Davies echoed the landscape with a neutral palette and sculptural furnishings, like the Noguchi coffee table in the living area. Color she left primarily to artwork by local creatives.
“Both Christine and Andrew have a solid appreciation for the arts, and Christine has a great appreciation for Asian culture–its restraint and simplicity,” Davies adds. “The interiors here are all about texture and tone as opposed to a massing of things.”