2022 Residential Interior Design Award: Legaspi Courts DesignAuthor:Abigail Stone
While interior design is grounded in the reality of measurements, function and budget, there’s an ephemeral element—call it alchemy, chemistry or magic—that, lit by project, client and designer uniting at the perfect moment, can propel a space into the realm of the breathtaking. Witness this central California project by Edel Legaspi of Legaspi Courts Design that takes this year’s residential crown.
“It all comes down to someone who will allow you the freedom to try the unexpected, who’s adventurous and unafraid,” says Legaspi, who looked to the client, a venture capitalist and recently divorced mother of three, as her muse. “I was really inspired by her,” Legaspi shares. “She’s used to taking risks. She radiates confidence. So it was about how to interpret who she is in a three-dimensional space.”
Legaspi urged her client to dream. “This is your house now,” she told her. “You can do whatever you want.” With its whitewashed walls, semi-open floor plan and large windows, the bright, contemporary home was a complete turnaround from the dark, masculine space she’d shared with her husband. Certainly, its serene interior would be the ideal backdrop for the strong, provocative works that comprised her art collection. “It was a clean slate against which to have fun, to bring in this sleek, modern sculptural furniture to promote that amazing art and do something unexpected,” says Legaspi.
Keeping the overall look streamlined, Legaspi experimented with curves and color and texture. “There’s a push-pull because you don’t want to compete with the art but you also don’t want to create a space that feels like a museum,” she notes. In the living room, an arresting sculpture by Nairy Baghramian and exuberant paintings by Mika Tajima, Jacqueline Humphries and Aaron Garber-Maikovska are balanced by Kimberly Denman’s Cerus armchairs upholstered in long Mongolian lamb hair, her high-back Ares chair covered in a Mokum distressed velvet and Coup D’Etat’s Biomorphic sofa covered in Silk & Sexy mohair by Holly Hunt.
“That the art and the furniture comes together is intriguing because it wasn’t intentional that we were looking to match things. Some of the art came in afterward so it was all very organic.” Legaspi, who studied fashion, likens the process of putting together a room to orchestrating an outfit. “It’s like you start with cool jeans, right, and then you add an awesome wine- colored crushed velvet blouse and then throw a boa around your neck.” That mix of carefree elegance winds its way through the rooms. It’s there in the entryway, which pairs a Kara Walker bronze sculpture with a console from Holly Hunt (“It’s almost like a bracelet,” Legaspi points out). It permeates the powder room, sheathed in a gilded wallpaper from Pierre Frey, and the den, where library ladders painted a bright teal and a pair of dark bookcases balance an arresting pair of graphic Kara Walker works and in the formal dining room the Cube Series by Sol LeWitt feels more intimate when contrasted with Dunn Edwards Wine Stain, a dark burgundy. “When we finished the room, it was white,” explains Legaspi. While she advocated for a strong wall color, believing it would finish the room and distinguish it from the adjacent central hallway, the client was on the fence. “We sent her some swatches anyway,” Legaspi says, “Then about two months later, I got a text from her.” The rich hue imparts depth to the paneled walls. (It also proved to be a great background for Zoom calls; during lockdown the two identical Kelly Lamb God’s Eye tables were commandeered by the client’s children as desks.) Gabriel Scott’s Luna Three Tier chandelier dangles overhead. “Because there’s not much art here, that and the Gubi Beetle chairs become the sculpture in the room.”
The bedroom, its walls covered in Phillip Jeffries’ Sunset Silk Shale pink wallpaper, which settles intimacy over the large room, is the home’s most unabashedly feminine space. “It’s warm and enveloping and sexy and fun,” says Legaspi, a feeling confirmed by the presence of Jim Zivic’s hanging daybed suspended in front of the windows. “It wasn’t in the original plan,” admits Legaspi, who’d envisioned the headboard on the wall, which now showcases a photograph by Matt Saunders. “We went to Ralph Pucci to look at something completely different and I heard her laughter from across the showroom,” Legaspi laughs. “Those moments, when you see clients experiencing things that give them pure joy, those are why I do this work.” She thinks for a moment, “It’s how I wanted her to feel in this home, joyous, like herself, like the badass she is.”