Text by Lisa Wallace
The image conjured by the name of architectural firm SAOTA is one of dramatic spaces and monolithic structure —sleek bold statements on modern living. Family homes aren’t the first thing that spring to mind. But, with his home, Stefan Antoni combines these two elements in defiance of expectation, creating a space with all the spectacle of an Atlantic Seaboard showpiece that also responds to the practical needs and complexities of family life. Stefan and his wife, Carla, designed this house with all that in mind, improving on where their previous home fell short. ‘It was much more of a couple’s apartment and we were finding we needed to adjust how we were living now that there are four of us,’ explains Carla.
That’s not to say the house doesn’t make a notable architectural statement. A big expansion in size as well as a departure in aesthetic, the thinking was towards massive open-plan and double-volume spaces and tasked zoning. Built over four floors, the areas, although open-plan, have definite identities. A simple redwood and grey-shale façade that opens on to a sculptural courtyard and leads into an entrance gallery serves as a taste of the impact ahead. Sculpture, dramatic volume, far-reaching views and raw textures — rock, timber, concrete — are the cornerstones of the look of this house, designed to maximise the setting and develop a patina over time. ‘I want the imperfections of the house to show,’ says Stefan of the aesthetic that feels like a step forward for the Atlantic Seaboard archetype.
Art plays a pivotal role here, with select pieces forming the initial impression — the first piece once inside the door a massive dug-out canoe. The couple has always wanted a dedicated gallery and aims to fill out the space with special pieces. This dream space was pivotal in developing the feel of the house as a whole, with its large expanses of wall, new spaces and simple approach to adornment. Furnishings are minimal, to allow the layering of finishes to really shine. ‘With so many raw materials in the house, we thought it best to keep lines simple and neutral,’ explains Adam Court of OKHA, who worked on the look of the interior with Stefan.
‘We consciously emphasised the different roles of each zone, shifting the mood from room to room. We wanted the space to surprise,’ explains Stefan. The effect is exactly that — from cocooning and comfortable in the family-room wing, its hunkered down L-shape centering on the courtyard and focusing on functional living spaces, solid and secure, to all-out contemporary cathedral in the double-volume living area with its rippling concrete feature wall and commanding views.
Although sea-orientated, with the pool terrace to the west, it also leads off to the courtyard garden on the east, access to both by way of sliding glass doors, which open it up so completely that it’s little more than a roof. The way the living level is configured means that the children are visible at all times, whether they’re playing outside, watching TV, or swimming in the pool. A brilliant combination of challenging architecture and family practicality. Bedrooms, too, were configured with children in mind, and all three interlead through sliding doors closest to the matching window seats in each, massive frames in which to sit and appreciate the picture-book sea views.
Adam Letch and SAOTA