The risk with wall paneling is that it can feel a little predictable, but this luxurious home designed by Alepreda Architecture proves that it can still feel fresh, contemporary and a little surprising, too.
In this minimalist retreat, nestled in a forested 12-acre plot in New York State, the wall paneling is an understated but important part of the design, leading visitors around the home, adding texture to walls, drawing the eye upwards and even hiding secret doors that add an element of intrigue.
Vertical lines carved into the panels create a sculptural feel in the home, mirroring the trees and landscape outside and reminding all who visit the home that the real feature is the view from this modern home's windows. 'The interior recognizes that the landscape is far more interesting than the architecture could ever be,' head designer, Alessandro Preda, tells us.
Aside from the unique wall paneling, the choice of natural materials and neutral colors help highlight the spectacle of the changing seasons taking place outside the windows. We speak to the designer to find out the multiple ways this woodland home welcomes with a cocooning feeling of refuge.
Blending interior and exterior spaces
First, the house embraces its woodland location by blending the interior and exterior spaces. This creates a gradient (both visual and spatial) from indoor to outdoor,' says Alessandro.
The interaction with the stunning natural environment is achieved by carefully framing views. 'A single tree, the pond, the moving clouds, a foreshortened panorama below a cantilevered beam, a sloping landscape seen through a trellis wall, and courtyards with varying scales and levels of enclosure.'
The windows are calibrated to maximize views and let in direct and indirect natural light. For instance, the living room's northeast corner opens the room to a naturally fed pond. 'The entry foyer is fully glazed on two sides and the massing also creates various framed views from which to gaze at the landscape.'
Natural furniture and decor
The living room is the heart of the home, where the aesthetic is cozy yet simple and refined. Furniture is floated on a central rug, angled towards the centerpiece of the room - a jet-black fireplace made from locally sourced soapstone.
The floated furniture trick requires you to refrain from pushing all pieces of living room furniture to sit flush against the walls, pulling the furniture in to create zones and a cozy feel, embracing all sides of the sofas instead of hiding certain angles of your furniture. This keeps the room feeling intimate despite the masses of space, white walls, and high ceilings.
'The living room scale is rather large and has a very tall ceiling sloping,' explains Alessandro Preda.
'Moreover, a large portion of the living room is glazed with large windows that touch the floor. The design intended to create an airy and expansive space and connect this room to the forest visually and spatially.'
'Also, having the perimeter floor empty connects the wood floor to the exterior deck, which visually looks like a continuation of the interior floor.'
Wall paneling surrounds the outskirts of the living room, concealing a secret door leading to a powder room and the basement level. This seamless addition keeps the space calm and avoids too much visual clutter, appealing to a minimalist look.
This element hints at traditional wainscoting typical in the North East, and vertical fluted details mimic the trees outside, emphasizing the connection to nature. 'The patterning of the facade boards, batten system and interior paneling, with their verticality and occasionally irregular spacing, hints abstractly at the trees of the forest outside,' says Alessandro.
Overall, the interior material palette is refined, understated, and mostly specific to the region. White oak cabinetry and stained oak wood floor complement the off-white walls.
On the white walls, Alessandro has carefully curated artwork. The artwork was painted by the designer specifically for the project. 'The client did not have an art collection, but we felt it was important to have some abstract paintings on the wall. These paintings are part of a series of abstract, loosely architectural shapes that I have developed as a hobby in my free time. Up close, the paintings show material build-up and have texture.'
When it comes to minimalist decor and pared-back furniture, Alepreda designs and commercializes a line of furniture under the moniker Miduny. 'We prototype all furniture in our Brooklyn workshop and collaborate with Italian artisan to create small batches of unique products,' says Alessandro.
'Given our friendship with the client, in this project, we included several pieces of our own design, including the dining table, walnut bench, ebonized desk, console table, and stool. The mirrors were specifically designed and built for this project.'
Embracing the view
Bardiglio marble tiles clad the entire walls of this space, which has a spa bathroom feel, with teak on the shower floor and vanity. The soaking freestanding tub sits by a large operable window that opens fully to enhance the connection to the outdoors.
'The primary bathroom has a cave-like feeling,' says Alessandro. 'The use of a dark natural stone helps frame the window and propels the gaze toward the exterior.
'The bathing area beyond the glass partition houses a large shower and a tub. This area is fully-clad in stone, and geometrically it's a perfect cube. The simplicity of this shape is essential to maintain the focus on nature outside of the window.'
The color palette
The palette of the home is neutral, with a pop of green from the trees radiating in through the windows. In the primary bedroom, paneling creates a headboard, and soft, moss-colored bed linen creates a cozy bedroom.
'The color palette has muted natural tones and subtle texture to provide a sense of tactility,' says Alessandro.
'The most common material in the palette is wood. The exterior is clad in charred wood and cedar. The interior wood floor has a warm brown stained oak floor. All walls are off-white, and some rooms have an off-white paneling system that gives walls a texture and tempo. Walls are kept neutral so as not to compete with the outdoor landscape.'
Bring a mossy green throw to your bed spread with this Loewe blanket. Made in Italy from a sumptuous blend of wool and cashmere, it's woven with an 'Anagram' and, nodding to the label's cordwainer heritage, is trimmed with smooth leather.
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Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.
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