Modern Jewel

Vibrant color moments and a sure hand with materials make for an inventive, art-filled update of a mid-century masterpiece.

Written by:Amanda Lecky
Photographed by:Eric Piasecki
Designer : A. Villalobos 
Instagram: @avillalobosdesign
â ¢Kitchen cabinets are painted in â  Chrome Greenâ   by Benjamin Moore in High gloss 
â ¢Countertop are Black Pool by Cambria 
â ¢Stove is by La Cornue 
â ¢Backsplash is Elenco Gold Tile by Ann Sacks
â ¢Light over counter is name â  Porteâ   by Urban Electric 
â ¢Flooring is custom terrazzo tiles by A. Villalobos through Concrete Collaborative 
â ¢Set of Plates over the stove are Portuguese Majolica through Christieâ  s 
â ¢Counter stool is The Beetle by Gubi

Cambria design shown: Cambria Black™.

When you’re charged with designing the interiors of a true architectural gem, it can be difficult to balance the need to update and personalize without either destroying the existing character or hewing so closely to the style that the rooms become mini-museums. Such was the balancing act Colombian designer Alberto Villalobos of Villalobos Desio found himself managing when called to work on a home by architect Wallace K. Harrison, the modernist giant behind Rockefeller Center, the U.N. Headquarters, and Lincoln Center. Working closely with his client—who had a true passion for her newly purchased home and its architecture—Villalobos was able to walk that tightrope with equal parts grace and energy, emphasizing and even strengthening the existing attractions while bringing the materials and style of the Katonah, New York, house up to date.

The spectacular kitchen is a perfect example of Villalobos’ approach. Without completely erasing the past, he was able to give it a brighter, more contemporary look by adding oversize windows at one end. “The kitchen ceilings are the lowest in the house, barely eight feet in most areas, so those big windows made a huge impact on the work space and brought light into the adjoining family room,” he says. Villalobos chose Cambria Black™ for the kitchen counters.

“It was the perfect choice, because it’s a true, deep black, and the material is in perfect keeping with our whole ethos for the design—sticking with the kinds of highly functional, durable materials that the modernists favored, while introducing some high-end luxury.” Of course, the most eye-catching elements in the kitchen are the brilliant green cabinets (Benjamin Moore Chrome Green) and ochre tiles. The flooring in both the kitchen and family room is custom-designed terrazzo, another luxe-yet-tough material.

Colorful Personality

The high gloss Cambria Black™ countertops beautifully reflect the gold backsplash tiles while providing another linear element in this graphic kitchen design.

Materials World

“I like to repeat material, for continuity,” says the designer. “We used the same Cambria design with a glossy finish in the kitchen, and with a matte finish for all the fireplaces.”
Cambria design shown: Blackpool Matte™ (fireplace)

The client’s extensive collection of art and photography plays a starring role throughout the design, and while the furnishings and fabrics Villalobos selected are undeniably elegant, they’re also low-maintenance, so visits from the client’s adult children—and their pets—can be worry-free. “We used indoor/outdoor fabrics in most places, and even the dining table in the family room is an indoor/outdoor piece,” the designer says. The result is a home that lives easy in its architectural superstardom, offering its owner a deeply comfortable, personal, art-filled haven with all the integrity its modernist creator intended.

"The client didn't want anything to be too precious—it had to stand up to guests and pets."

Art & Architecture

Unexpected splashes of color—the tobacco-brown ceiling, the stairs carpeted in a green ombre effect—inject the dining room and foyer with a jolt of energy.
Cambria design shown: Blackpool Matte™ (fireplace).

Wow Factor

Natural stone as art was the owner’s goal for this striking space. With its deep color and bold gold movement, Cambria Princetown™ was the perfect choice for the vanity and shower wall inlay.

Paint Picks

Chrome Green paint.
Hidden Valley paint.
Jet Black paint.

From left: Chrome Green HC-189, Hidden Valley 1134, Jet Black 2120-10 all from Benjamin Moore & Co.

Get the Look

Explore the designs featured in this story.