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Sophia Markoulakis | Photo: Matthew Millman | June 5, 2017
The Wiseman Group deftly designs around an art collection within a family-friendly estate.
Blue-chip art and teen sleepovers don’t usually coexist in the same sentence, let alone under the same roof, but that’s exactly what these Atherton homeowners wanted when they set out to design and furnish their 16,000-square-foot home on a private 2-acre lot. The result is a California contemporary compound that offers this active family of four enough living space for each to spread out and pursue their passions, while still coming together in a setting that exudes warmth and harmony.
“Collecting art is a passion for the couple; it’s something they do together,” says Paul Wiseman of the Wiseman Group, who oversaw the home’s interior design with associate design principal Jessica Redondo. Taking cues from builder Pacific Peninsula Group, the challenge was to create a space with enough light to properly display their collection, says Redondo. “They wanted the home to feel like a really cool art gallery, and they wanted the art to be seen first, but not feel like a cold showroom,” she notes. Wiseman—who worked with the clients and their art consultant, New York’s Jane Richards—acknowledges that it can be tricky working with consultants because, ultimately, it is a home. “They are usually very focused on the art and best ways to display it, like in a museum,” he says. Deciding on the finer details such as mounting and lighting was a collaborative process. “I think we worked well together,” he adds. “Our goal was that the art be mixed in a way that makes the home not museumlike, but comfortable so that the art can be enjoyed.”
The collection—which includes minimalist Sol LeWitt, multimedia artist Christian Marclay, Palo Alto-based multidisciplinarian artist Xiaoze Xie and iconic American painter Wayne Thiebaud—is ever-evolving, whether pieces are on loan to a museum or gallery, or simply rotated for pleasure. The design team devised clever ways to hang art while still addressing the needs of the family. For instance, they installed a subtle metal detail that runs horizontally on the stone fireplace in the living room. It accommodates art, as well as holiday stockings. That linear line is one of many that runs throughout the house and grounds the art. “We always like to find a thread in the architecture that we can relate to,” Wiseman says, adding: “It’s a very horizontal house. Everything has very strong, horizontal direction. Our carpet and sofa designs have a subliminal reference.”
The designers also sought out textiles and finishes that were flexible enough not to distract, yet provide interest. The living room’s vibrant pillow fabric from Zimmer + Rohde was found by the clients and became the staple fabric for the color palette. Accents of blue, pink, orange and yellow were liberally dispersed, from the blue leather Gallatin dining side chairs by Caste in the dining room to the yellow hues on accent pillows in the library to the chairs upholstered in an orange Glant fabric, placed around the banquette in the breakfast nook.
Though the home has seven bedrooms spread out over the main and upper levels, only three of them are used as sleeping quarters. The remaining four function as offices for both homeowners; a library; and an art studio for their daughter, who is a senior in high school. On the lower level, there’s a bunk room that sleeps eight, a gym with a digital driving range and a spalike bath, a game room, and a home theater. According to Redondo, the main level has beautiful light wells at the windows, which, when combined with the white stone walls, illuminate the subfloor spaces. In addition, a large skylight at the top of the multilevel steel and glass staircase keeps the floors visually connected. “It’s a very intimate home, even given its size, and I think a lot of that comes from the people who occupy it,” she says. “There’s a fantastic cohesiveness between the home’s architecture, the art collection and the generous homeowners.”
Originally published in the May/June issue of Silicon Valley