In the dining room, Frank’s influence is abundant. The French minimalist designer of the 1930s and ’40s, credited with creating the Parsons table, was also famous for parchment-covered walls and luxurious but subtle finishes like shagreen and mica. The same understated elegance defines the dining room, where Santa-Cruz surrounded a Parsons dining table with Directoire-style chairs covered in brown velvet. The designer chose to showcase the clients’ figurative art collection in a salon-style display of canvases. A yellow painting with red accents by Mauricio Luengas over the sideboard inspired him to buy the geometric artist’s models and group them on the table as a gift for his clients.
On the ceiling, an abstract gilded mural is a classic Frank finishing touch. By moving the doorway from the dining room into the kitchen—closer to the outside of the house—the designer was able to align it into an enfilade with the doorway into the teal-blue den. Here, Santa-Cruz was able to rescue a typical 1950s den with a jolt of bold color. “One of my favorite Farrow & Ball colors, Stiffkey Blue, brings cohesiveness to the room,” he says, “and it covers the old wood paneling.” And in the kitchen, now visible from the den through the dining room, blue ceramic tile of the clients’ choosing gave the space a bit of color.
The master bedroom, situated in the treetops, is an oasis of calm and texture. “We enlarged the windows to invite the outdoors in and create the feeling of being in a garden room,” says Santa-Cruz. He also covered the walls in a basketweave of
faux-wood wallpaper for more of that Frank-style restraint. “Jill wasn’t as enamored as Ann was of the treatment,” he says.
“Once it was done, we were all pleased with the effect.” Blackout draperies cocoon the room, and substantial valances added structural definition. Furniture from the clients’ previous home furnished most of the space; the only new addition was vivid yellow stools. The designer suggested the Fornasetti plates on each side of the mirror. “Every room should have a touch of the whimsical,” he says. “It cannot all be so serious.” With smart structural changes, bursts of color, and devotion to the proven principles of a design legend, Santa-Cruz has created a home that is as livable as it is luxurious.