Thursday, December 2, 2010

Essential Elegance

Earlier this week, I attended a lecture at the Corcoran given by Jose Solis & Paul Sherrill of Solis Betancourt in celebration of their new book, Essential Elegance. I know there are a LOT of beautiful books out this season but this one surely deserves its' place as a stocking stuffer (as said by Solis himself!).Solis Betancourt has been operating out of Washington, DC for 20 years and to celebrate that landmark, they decided to publish a book of some of their favorite projects. One of the first in the book is also one of my favorites (which I've loved ever since I first saw it published), an elegant french styled house here in DC they did in collaboration with Barnes Vanze Architects.Above is the living room. In this remarkable renovation, the team turned a pokey little house into an airy and spacious feeling masterpiece with amazing views. One of my favorite parts of the lecture was that they showed the 'befores' for every 'after' which got a lot of gasps from the audience! The master bedroom above benefited from the use of Portieres, or curtains to delineate space, a common element found in much of their work. The amazing mahogany windows and french doors from MQ windows which fill the house don't hurt either! Another ingenius element that often pops up in their work is decorative mouldings on the ceiling in which all of the ugly necessities are ganged; such as air vents, lighting fixtures and smoke detectors.
The use of natural materials and simple, modern furniture in a classical space was important to the client. Solis stated that their work at the firm is extremely client based and personal. This is evidenced by the broad range of styles seen throughout the book. He believes that the process should be 'amazingly fun' for everyone involved and that the client is the most important part of the process.In another more recently completed project just outside of NYC, Solis collaborated with architect Ward Welch to create a soothing environment for the client as an escape from the city. Solis believes his training as a painter (and also as an architect at Cornell) has trained him to see his interiors as still-lives and he excels at creating vignettes, as in this bedroom above. One of my favorite spaces was a bathroom in the same house. The modern glass sinks benefit from tons of natural light and the contrasting ornate mirrors add a little excitement to the room. I also love when bathrooms are finished like real rooms with pieces of furniture.
In the end, Solis and Paul left us with some great points. The earlier an interior designer is involved with a project, the better and smoother the end result. Solis believes his training as an architect helped his communication skills with clients, architects and the whole building team and believes that a team process is needed for a coherent project.
Editing is the most crucial part of design and Jose likes to work with existing furniture and architecture when possible, but in new ways; thinking outside of the box.
Jose said that entryways are the most important room of any house as they provide the introduction. He believes that no matter the size, it must give the 'story' of the entire house and he likes to include all of the main materials found throughout: stone,wood, iron, etc.
While Jose tends towards the modern and Paul towards traditional, their work together has created some stunning interiors as proved by this book. No matter whether the house is old or new, they like to provide a bit of wabi-sabi to the space by adding age and patina to give a sense of history. This one is a must in the fall line-up of interiors books!
principal photography throughout the book was provided by Marcos Galvany

14 comments:

Kevin said...

WOW the mirror and console from the cover photo are absolutely gorgeous. I must read this book now!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

yes, kevin!! Surely one of the best this year.

Anonymous said...

I think Solis Betancourt is the most talented designer in DC. Hands down the best.
Joe

Dovecote Decor said...

I just saw your comments over at Peak of Chic. I enjoyed your post and thought you would enjoy our latest on an unpublished Playhouse by James W. O'Connor, with a Sister Parish/Bunny Williams living room.
Best,
Liz

John J Tackett said...

Judging from the impact of the first photo, we may be in for a revival of smoked/bronzed mirrored walls!

Picture Of Elegance said...

Sounds like a wonderful lecture. I love the way the mirror is hanging above the sink in the last photo, very creative… Thanks for sharing; now I have this book on my Christmas wish list!

Mel said...

I'd love to turn my pokey little house into an airy masterpiece. Unfortunately, that will require winning the lottery and gutting everything. And we still wouldn't have more than 7' ceilings. Those colonial people were short, you know.

home before dark said...

Just when I think I have to end my book buying spree this fall, here this comes!

ps the etagere you introduced to me is tall, very tall. Did you know that it's not the height of the piece (it was shorter than 8', thought I was ok), but it is the diagonal from bottom to top that is the critical mass? Now the beautiful (and it is beautiful) black and gold beauty resides in my 9' tall dining room and it just took gutting three rooms to move this hunker on its side to the destination. At least this book won't require major alterations...or will it?!!!!

maison21 said...

waaaaaay diggin' the mirrors suspended in front of the windows in that bathroom. i'll have to check the book out further!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I bet the lechture was fantastic, thanks for sharing part with us!

I blogged about this book and a favorite space of Paul Sherrill's recently. I put the book on my Christmas wish list that I gave to my husband and children!!!

Topaz said...

Great post. I stumbled across this book at the bookstore and bought it immediately. And I never pay full price for a book, it was just that good!

Mark D. Ruffner said...

I like the suspended mirrors in the bathroom. To be able to simultaneously look in the mirror and out a window is a delightful luxury - so long as no one on the outside can see my bedhead!

quintessence said...

Oh yes - somehow forgot about this one - oh where oh where am I going to put it?! This year is wreaking havoc with my already crowded bookcases! But this is clearly a must have. Perhaps it was the client but just love the mix - looks so European to me - and that bathroom!

theduchessofH said...

I agree that entryways give the 'story' of the house. I have to say that mine follows his beliefs, and includes all of the materials found throughout.

This is purely a coincident, and something I would never have noticed, if not for your post.