After nearly eight years of renting a tiny apartment in the center of Asolo, in northern Italy, Guido Chiavelli and his wife, Sabrina, were ready to find a house outside of town and start a family. The Chiavellis traded in their cramped flat for a renovated farmhouse in the country. Architect Filippo Caprioglio paired the indigenous sandstone of the existing structure with teak mounted on two-foot-wide panels for the exterior. Locally sourced Italian slate covers the ground floor rooms.
In 2009, designer Peter Fehrentz moved to Berlin and purchased a flat in Schöneberg, Germany, a neighborhood in west Berlin. Apartments seldom come on the market in the neighborhood—so when this one did, he pounced, despite the fact that it held little aesthetic appeal. Fehrentz removed walls to illuminate the space and create an open plan. In contrats to his airy, white Hamburg home, Fehrentz chose a dark, elegant palette peppered with a few flashes of color for his Berlin flat. He painted the old wood floors a very dark eggplant that reads as a warm black.
In San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood, a 17-unit residential structure dubbed 1234 Howard is clad almost entirely in anodized aluminum. Designed by Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc., the building is a bright white abstraction of the city’s vernacular. In the penthouse unit, the "nighttime" quarters, clad almost exclusively in white, are the analog to the dark-toned "daytime" space. The "daytime" living quarters in the penthouse are dark, from the floor to the furnishings.
Architects Emilie Bédard and Maria Rosa Di Ioia gave Erik Rydingsvärd’s top-floor apartment in a Montreal triplex a subdued, modern look that evokes his native Denmark. The floors are Douglas fir and the walls are spruce, painted white. In the master bath, a dowdy tub was replaced with a standing shower designed by the architects. The dark tiles by Ceragres mirror the black ceiling.
Rather than indulge her impulse and strip away this 1925 San Francisco home’s traditional flourishes—the French doors, baseboard trim, iron fixtures—modern architect Abigail Turin embraced them, creating what she calls “a dialogue between minimal detailing and a traditional backdrop.” Something the 40-year-old architect noticed immediately was how the house becomes brighter toward the back. So she played off that quality by embracing the dimness of the front living room, which faces the street, by painting the walls—and all the wood flooring in the house—a dark slate, the effect of which is surprisingly cozy.
Residents Cathryn Barmon and Mark Deutsch were not particularly fond of their first real estate investment, a West Village flat, upon purchasing it. "This place was a filthy dump when we bought it,” says Barmon, “I didn’t want to go barefoot until we’d redone the floors." They agreed to gut it entirely and, now, have no intention of leaving anytime soon. The floors were sanded and painted a deep matte black, making the apartment look much bigger than it is.
Actors David Alan Basche and Alysia Reiner rework their Harlem town house with an eco-sensibility and an eye for smarter spaces. A specific focus on sustainability guided every detail of the project. Their determination has paid off, as the family now enjoys a bedroom for Liv that has a custom play space, an attractive wood-clad wall on the landing, a refurbished kitchen and outdoor space, and a third-floor master bedroom suite with an updated bathroom. The second-floor landing features chalkboard paint under the stairs, and dark tiled floors.
Mathieu Vinciguerra’s comic book collection is massive, and he knew it would be a challenge to accommodate them in any apartment. That wasn’t the only problem with the 635-square-foot space he bought in Paris for about $400,000, however. The apartment was a cramped, grubby little rabbit warren with six rooms, six doors, and lots of pointy corners. During renovation, in a 21st-century homage to both the compartmentalization of Hausmann-era interiors and graphic novels, dozens of custom boxy shelves filled the spaces, now highlighted by saturated colors, boldly contrasting with the white walls and dark floors.