Opposite: The sunny breakfast room has bronze doors, a David Latesta Verona
chandelier, a midcentury table with an inlaid stone top and a patinated wire base;
the chairs are from Silhouette. This page from top: Vaulted glazed terra-cotta-tiled ceilings resemble those in rustic European kitchens and are the perfect
setting for a Grand Palais 180 La Cornue stove hood, brackets of Pietra Serena
stone, new sinks, counters and bar tops of green Costa Esmeralda marble, a
kitchen island with walnut and chestnut burl cabinets, and integrally colored
NuCrete concrete counters from Sonoma Cast Stone; Eric Brand’s Zarafshan
fabric-upholstered stools match the shutters and sconce shades, while pendant
lights by Bocci complement Markus Linnenbrink’s Drip series on canvas.
So, for the coffered main dining room, Matthews
chose a 19th-century English mahogany table with
many leaves that can expand the table-for-six up to
22 feet for more guests. The room features a large
wool sisal carpet by Stark, plus a latticed door by
Novato metalsmiths Turner & Taylor that leads to
the stone-and-mahogany wine cellar stocked with
fine bottlings, including those the owners produce.
The wife wanted “the feeling of a classic
17th-century Italian dining room,” Matthews says.
To that end, he included high-backed Italian chairs,
found at auction, to complement the large table. To
leaven the heavy ensemble of table and chairs, he
added contemporary “Couronnes” chandeliers by
Bourgeois Boheme. “Custom buffets were designed
by us for displaying some of their serving pieces and
for storage,” Matthews adds. The subtly patterned
wall finish by TBC is actually a raised arabesque filigree of pomegranate vines rendered in plaster that
is then troweled over with wet plaster. The process
allows the filigree to show through the final layer of
smooth plaster like a shadowy palimpsest.
Many other rooms are filled with refined, valuable works, but the home’s tour de force — the
sunroom loggia — is perhaps its most casual and
Designed as an indoor-outdoor area, it was made
to look like a real loggia, with exterior plaster finishes for its interior walls. The room’s arched openings are infilled with glass in bronze frames, “as if
they were added later,” Matthews says. The shaded
room allows sun in only during the cooler, later
part of the day. During the hottest months, a fountain in the room helps cool things off, and in the
winter, an inglenook around the walk-in fireplace is
the spot for cocktails, even on the coldest day. “The
challenge was to make the fireplace work properly,
because it is harder to control smoke from an opening that is too large,” the designer says.
What gives the room its distinctive air of the casual high life from 1950s Italy is a pair of woven
wicker wing chairs from J. F. Chen in Los Angeles.
They dominate the side of the room, where a wall
is festooned in the Roman style, with a collection
of architectural flotsam such as Italian excavated
terra-cotta fragments and a 16th-century stone
medallion carved with a coat of arms from Naples.
Suspended from the wood and terra-cotta ceiling,
a vintage chandelier comfortably coexists with two
ceiling fans that, when the summer air becomes too
hot and too still, stir the dolce vita nicely. n