Sun, Sea, And Stone
Maria Shollenbarger -- Interior Design, 7/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
Houses are often decorated with travel souvenirs: masks from Africa, majolica from Italy—keepsakes with both aesthetic and sentimental value. When the owners of a penthouse in Knokke, a chic seaside resort in Belgium, took a trip to Tuscany, the memento that caught their eye and captured their hearts was nothing less than an enormous piece of Calacatta marble. The fact that the 3-by-10-foot block was extremely heavy didn't seem to faze the couple. Actually, the timing was perfect. The Knokke apartment building was still under construction, so they were able to ask Stefanie Everaert and Caroline Lateur of Doorzon Interieurarchitecten to figure out a way to incorporate the marble, literally and conceptually, into the design of the flat.
Far from being daunted, the partners took an immediate shine to the marble's beauty and potential. "It has more veining than Carrara and is so much more expressive," Everaert says. "And the white of the background is whiter." That's a good thing, since white, light, and open were recurring adjectives in the owners' conversations about the 1,400-square-foot space.
The developers' layout had four bedrooms and two and a half baths. However, Lateur explains, "Our clients were more than willing to trade in two bedrooms and a traditional layout." A generously open living-dining area and kitchen now flow organically toward the hallway leading to the master suite. When a door clad in mirror-polished stainless steel swings shut to close off the suite, there's a bonus for the public space: The shiny metal reflects sunlight from the living area's windows and sliding glass door, creating a sense of increased spaciousness.
That open-plan public space, with its 2-by-4-foot floor slabs, showcases the marble to the fullest. In addition, the kitchen island is marble. Built-in cabinetry surfaced in lacquered MDF follows the white directive. Virtually the only departure is the long horizontal Maarten Van Severen storage unit that Everaert and Lateur mounted nearby; its sliding aluminum doors are lacquered turquoise, periwinkle, lime, and cornflower.
Tucked ingeniously next to the kitchen, the guest bathroom scores highest for Calacatta-per-inch. Every surface but the ceiling is marble. So is the diminutive basin cantilevered from the wall—carved out of which are two nautical-inspired porthole windows. Above the sink, a similar round cutout is backed by mirror.
In the open master suite, the Calacatta flood recedes slightly—leaving behind a circle of marble flooring surrounded by walnut parquet. At one edge of the circle, by the window, sits the sculptural bathtub. Opposite, a cylindrical volume, veneered in walnut, supports the marble sink and houses the shower and toilet. Lapis-blue silk bouclé curtains, suspended from a ceiling track that follows the curve of the marble inset, can close off this bathing area from the suite's sleeping quarters. "You can talk but have privacy," Everaert says.
The powder room has just two marble elements, the floor and the rectangular sink. What's proved to be the real conversation piece among guests is the wall tile, punched white ceramic squares that make the room look like it's lined with a patchwork quilt. For finishing touches, the architects added an Ingo Maurer sconce, plus a mirror and a medicine cabinet, both round.
Not marble at all is the flooring in the guest room. For this space, Everaert and Lateur designed carpet in hand-tufted wool. The carpet's ground is white. On top of it, however, swirl deep-gray lines that mimic the veining of a certain stone we know.