Warm and modern with a touch of whimsy: That was designer Jeffrey Neve’s directive for the interiors of his clients’ Lafayette hillside residence. Introduced to the project by residential designer Steven F. Kubitschek, who created the architectural framework, and general contractor Jeff Stone, Neve wanted to balance the clean-lined structure with wood (walnut adds richness throughout), color (especially blue, which is found in nearly every room) and organic pieces (a nod to the rugged East Bay landscape).
“They didn’t want a traditional house,” Kubitschek says. “They wanted a cleaner, more contemporary home.” To this end, he and Stone used a mix of gray siding and dark stucco on the exterior, creating a sleek, modern look. But upon approach, a wood door hints at the integration of natural elements to come. “It has a purposely understated exterior, but it opens into an incredibly sophisticated interior,” Stone observes.
It’s a style that veers far from the couple’s former abode, which was more classic, but the wife was ready for something different. “She wasn’t afraid to take risks and wanted everything to be completely fresh, down to the dishes,” Neve says, noting that the only pieces the couple brought to their new dwelling were from their artwork collection.
The designer was given plenty of freedom with his approach to the interiors, but it was important to understand the couple’s style leanings. One driver: those shades of blue, as the wife loves the color. Navy draperies in the foyer and family room were the jumping-off point. The hue serves as a calming neutral in some spaces, such as the cozy family room, where subtly patterned blue-and-gray seating and a fireplace clad in walnut allow the views to take center stage. At other times it adds drama, like the powder room’s indigo-and-gold wood-veneer wallcovering and jaw-dropping blue granite sink, which play against brass mirrors and pendants.
The color is also used to create that much-desired whimsy. In the dining room, sky-hued pendants pick up the pale blue and aquamarine shades in a biomorphic Amy Genser piece. Touches of gold and black in the artwork, as well as a dark table, keep the look sophisticated. The result is a space that can be enjoyed outside of formal dinners.
But it’s the main bedroom—with its hand-painted wallpaper in charcoal, dove gray and sage on an ivory backdrop, and curtains that morph from cream to deep teal—where Neve took the fun to another level. “The drapes are beautiful—they are a big moment,” he says. “They are balanced by softer wallpaper, which makes the room soothing.”
The primary bathroom is a lesson in how to create a light and bright space while still using dark and dramatic materials. The key, Neve says, was adding large windows. The sun-filled space allowed him to use honed black marble with gold veining in the shower and a deep green vinyl wallcovering without creating a cave-like feel.
This was an important feat, as making the home at one with the outside was crucial. Sliding doors in both the dining room and main bedroom lead to thoughtfully designed outdoor living spaces. “Keeping with the overall theme of a crisp, modern look for the landscape, the hardscape utilizes clean lines and subdued materials,” landscape architect David Thorne explains.
Such thoughtful elements are found in every aspect of the design and led to the project’s success. “We captured the California lifestyle while maintaining the seclusion, views and sun exposures both within and outside the house,” Stone says. “The clients feel that we created their dream home.”