Mairi Beautyman -- Interior Design, 10/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Drive about 15 miles east of Zurich, along the lake, and you'll hit the Gold Küste, or Golden Coast—a name that refers simultaneously to the area's wealth and sunny southern exposure. When Iria Degen Interiors was hired to design half of a new two-family house in the Gold Küste village of Herrliberg, she encountered 3,500 square feet of panoramic water and mountain views. The three-story building features the maximum number of windows that area zoning laws would allow. (Reflections off the glass could interfere with boat navigation on the lake.) "From every room, you can either see the lake or at least sense where it is," Degen says.
If the architecture speaks to the lake, the interiors are oriented toward a very different body of water: a swimming pool where Degen's client, an avid triathlon competitor, does his laps. The existence of this private spa, complete with steam room, isn't even hinted at by the ground level's open-plan living and dining areas and kitchen—with the warmth of their teak flooring. But a certain coolness begins to gather with the multiple gray tones of the private spaces.
The master suite, which occupies the top level, faces the lake through windows draped in luxurious folds of soft gray suede. A gray so dark it's almost black appears in the bed's woven wicker headboard. And that color is echoed inside the glass cube of a master bath, causing the two rooms to read as one.
Several design elements are shared by the master bath and the main level's bathroom, used by guests and the client's son. In addition to transparent glass, both rooms have stainless-steel shower and sink fittings, white porcelain sinks, and anthracite-lacquered MDF vanity counters. "This lacquer is so highly resistant that it's usually used for cars," Degen says. Behind the sinks, she applied a textured concrete. To achieve its deep matte gray, she shipped the company a fabric swatch.
She had intended to carry the concrete through to the master bathroom's shower, but there was no waterproof version available. Instead, she chose panels of brushed stainless steel. "You'd be more likely to find them in a kitchen," she says. "But they really blend in and play with the light."
The play of light and water intensifies in the lower level's 480-square-foot spa. Blue glass mosaic tiles flow from the bottom of the pool to the top of the walls. In the cylindrical glassed-in steam capsule, next to the pool, the blue tile covers the floor and climbs up the wall behind a teak-slat bench. To be really swept away by the water, however, step into the pool—where powerful jets create currents for resistance training, triathlon-style.