How A Designer Channeled Global Accents For Clients


Designer Cynthia Spence used her clients’ diverse background and their love for all things handmade to create a Cupertino home that’s both personal and worldly. Here, she reveals how she achieved that with this project.

This is a new home, but it has a patina. I added rustic ceiling beams for a handcrafted feeling reminiscent of traditional New Mexican buildings. It’s perfect because the wife craves anything that has a handmade look, and she spent part of her young life there. Those beams add a big dose of the hand-hewn to this new house.

How else did you weave the cultural backgrounds of the clients into the design? Inspired by the husband’s Indian background, we layered colorful, vintage textiles throughout the rooms. In the living room, the pillows on the sofa are made from those fabrics, and we used a Central Asian rug to make a pair of poufs. The custom console is another good example. I looked at images of carved doors from both India and New Mexico for inspiration and used similar details in the design of this piece, as well as the doors to the master suite.

How did you strike the perfect balance between rustic and refined? I love the way old and new work together here. For instance, I put a pair of antique red Indian chests in the open space under the modern metal-and-glass staircase. I placed them on metal bases, and the shared material helps tie the two elements together. In this home, the mash-up of cultures and periods makes for a one-of-a-kind experience.