Nate Berkus gives good grey.
He brings it to just about every interior he touches, every collection he designs, every suitcase he packs. And yet, it took 21 years for his design firm to tackle a project in perhaps the greyest city in America, Seattle.
The project? To refresh and modernize the traditional 1960s-era home for the Marras, a family of five. And it spanned two and half years of Nate and his team commuting from all corners of the country. That meant the firm’s Co-Design Director Sasha Adler flying from Chicago, Nate traveling from LA, the two of them, clients in tow, jetting to Manhattan to meet with a preeminent art advisor.
The scope of things gets larger when you consider the provenance of the furniture and accessories that converged in the Marra home. Sarah Burns, the artist who hand-painted the powder room was flown in from Minnesota; the entryway’s Boris Lacroix sconce can be traced back to France, the Nero Marquina marble that makes up the kitchen countertops has roots in the North of Spain.
So: what caused this mass influx of imports – and flight schedules – to descend upon this Cape Cod? It started with Shannon, the design-obsessed woman of the house, realizing that this place they hoped to call home didn’t speak at all to her style, or the way the family lived.
What did speak to her? Interiors she’d seen in magazines and on television that always traced back to Nate Berkus. “We don’t care that you’re on TV, we just really like your work,” Nate says with a laugh, quoting Shannon on the initial call. And after the first few meetings, it was clear that the attraction ran both ways.
Over the course of the next couple years, over phone calls and Pinterest boards and buying trips, the firm worked with the Marra family to bring that taste – along with warmth and understated glamour, to every inch of the home. You can see it in the custom edges on the kitchen island and the monogrammed knobs of the office cabinetry, both flourishes courtesy of the design firm’s project manager, Alison Wilcox.
And perhaps there’s no place where that attention to detail is more subtly evident than in Shannon’s dressing room. NBA worked with contractor Charlie Anderson of Anderson Construction Group to create the leather-topped island and cabinetry after months of quizzing Shannon on her fashion choices and habits. “We get obsessive about closets,” says Nate. “We want to know: how high are your heels? What kind of jewelry do you wear? How much workout gear do you own, because we want to close off that area – no one wants to look at sweatshirts when they’re trying to select a handbag.”
The result of course is a dressing room akin to a work of art, which is fitting considering the scope of great art that lives within the walls of this home. New York-based art consultant André Viana worked with the firm and the Marras to identify the artists and mediums that spoke to them and would kickstart a considered and exquisite collection.
Among their treasures – the dining room’s pair of David Ostrowski paintings, work by Simon Mathers in the upstairs bar area and Ricky Swallow’s bronze triangle plate in the entryway. The kitchen is home to the family’s Richard Serra piece.
Just like Viana helped to coordinate the art selection, the firm approached sourcing for the entire home like creating a collection of custom and heirloom pieces that build gravitas and value. From the lighting (almost entirely made up of carefully sourced vintage and antique pieces), to the case pieces and accent furniture, it’s clear that the artwork here isn’t bound by simply what’s on the wall.
Design history fanatics will recognize rare and culturally significant pieces throughout the home – never rarified, instead seamlessly incorporated into daily life. The master bedroom’s chandelier by Gaetano Sciolari, and powder room’s Serge Mouille sconce; iconic seating throughout by Poul Kjaerholm, Maison Jansen, and Robert Van Horn – specifically, his Lucite ribbon chair. Not to mention the living room’s two tables by Saporiti and Angelo Mangiarotti. Also mixed throughout? Objects by Alexandre Noll, porcelain panels by Anne Barnes, and Julian Mayor’s stacked plywood chair.
Looking for the vintage mirror by Franco Albini? Just head to the upstairs bath.
And if you guessed that things would slow down or get watered down when it came to the children’s rooms, think again. Throughout the domain of the youngest Marras, you’ll find the Albini mirror as well as custom mirrored tables (spelling out one of the sons’ names), an emerald cotton velvet sofa, Adelphi Paper Hangings pineapple wallpaper, and cement tile from Alabama’s Villa Lagoon.
And as the children’s rooms are meant to grow up alongside them, the entire home – while technically “done” – continues to be a work in progress. With every dinner prepared on the custom kitchen island, every family night spent lounging on tufted sofas, every rejuvenating steam within the Statuary marble shower, these interiors, built to reflect family life, become more and more a part of it.
LIVING ROOM: Paint–Skimming Stone by Farrow and Ball; farrow-ball.com. Rug–Sivas Oushak by Woven Accents; woven.is. Daybed–Custom Flora daybed by Cain Modern; cainmoderne.com. Sofas–Custom design by NBA, fabricated by Estudio Furnishings; estudiofurnishings.com. Mirror–Antique gold leaf and sugared split mirror from Old Plank Road; oldplank.com. Lucite chair–Ribbon chair by Robert Van Horn from Designo Karina Gentinette; 1stdibs.com. Porcelain wall panels–by Anne Barres from Magen H XX; magenxxcentury.com. ENTRYWAY: Paint–Wimborne White by Farrow and Ball. Wall-mounted settee–by Poul Kjaerholm; 1stdibs.com. Geometric Console–custom stainless steel geometric form from John Salibello Antiques; johnsalibello.com. Sconce–by Boris Lacroix and Chandelier–vintage from Rewire; 1stdibs.com. Artwork–Plate 21, 2010 by Ricky Swallow from Viana Art. POWDER ROOM: Custom painted walls–by Sarah Burns; sarahannburns.com. Pedestal sink–York Street Studio; yorkstreetstudio.com. Light fixture–John Salibello Antiques. Sconce–vintage by Serge Mouille from Gueridon; midcenturymodern.gueridon.com. LIVING ROOM NOOK: Round table–vintage Carrara Marble Eros table by Angelo Mangiarotti from Caira Mandaglio; cairamandaglio.com. Leather armchairs–vintage Louis XVI-style Bergeres from Old Plank Road. Sconce–by Diego Mardegan from Galerie Glustin; glustin.net. UPSTAIRS BAR: Shelving–custom with White Dahlia glass from Galaxy Glass and Stone; galaxycustom.com. Cabinetry–designed by NBA and built by Charlie Anderson of Anderson Construction Group; andersoncg.com. Sconce–Trapeze 2 sconce by Apparatus Studio; apparatusstudio.com. Light fixture–antique gilded orb flush from Kerson 20th Century Design; 1stdibs.com. Artwork–Titles 2010 by Simon Mathers from Viana Art; vianaart.com. FAMILY ROOM: Sofa–custom by Estudio Furnishings; upholstered in Cotton Velvet from Holly Hunt. Coffee table–March Antiques. Lamp–Luna Table Lamp by Noir; noirfurniturela.com. KITCHEN: Island–custom design by NBA with millwork by Anderson Construction Group. Stools–Square guest counter stool by BDDW Furniture; bddw.com. Appliances–Subzero and Wolf; subzero-wolf.com. Light fixtures–Feanor’s Globe from Hector Finch; hectorfinch.com. SCREENING ROOM: Tufted sofas–custom by Todd Merrill Studio; toddmerrillstudio.com; upholstered in–Suzanne Tucker; suzannetuckerhome.com. Tables–Clear Lens table by McCollin Bryan; mccollinbryan.com. Wall covering and drapery fabric–West Flannelle by Pierre Frey; pierrefrey.com. Artwork–12 Views for Caroline Tatyana by Brice Marden from Senior and Shopmaker; seniorandshopmaker.com. OFFICE: Paint–Skimming Stone by Farrow and Ball. Light fixture–Tile Chandelier by Sonneman from John Salibello Antiques. Chair–custom by NBA and Estudio Furnishings. Desk–vintage brass and leather from Harris Kratz; harriskratz.com. Lamps–Le Louvre French Antiques; lelouvre-antiques.com. Rug–vintage Moroccan Kilim from Nazmiyal Collection; nazmiyal.com. DINING ROOM: Paint–Pitch Black by Farrow and Ball. Drapery fabric–FJ Hakimain; fjhakimain.com. Dining table–custom by NBA; antique base from Old Plank Road. Chairs–Louis XVI-style dining chairs from Artistic Frame; artisticframe.com. Chandelier–vintage by Bakalowits from Oliver Hutzemakers; hutzemakers.com. Artwork by David Ostrowski from Viana Art. MUD ROOM: Cabinetry paint–Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball. Light fixture–vintage from Blend Interiors; blendinteriors.com. BATH: Tile–Fairfax Field from Materials Marketing; mstoneandtile.com. Sink–Urban Archaeology; urbanarchaeology.com. Mirror–antique Italian gilt mirror from JED Design and Antiques; jeddesign.com. Sconces–Hood sconce by Brendan Ravenhill; brendanravenhill.com. MASTER BEDROOM (ENTRY NOOK): Console–custom patinaed steel console with marble top by Rose Uniacke; roseuniacke.com. Chair–Stacked plywood Impression chair by Julian Mayor from Twenty First Gallery; 21stgallery.com. Lamp–Pavilion Antiques; pavilionantiques.com. Light fixture–vintage from Elizabeth Pash; elizabethpash.com. Artwork–Untitled 2013 by Ethan Cooke from Viana Art. MASTED BEDROOM: Wall covering–custom fabric by Loro Piana; loropiana.com. Chandelier–chrome and glass chandelier by Gaetano Sciolari from Flowermountain; 1stdibs.com. Alpaca rug–Patterson Flynn & Martin; pattersonflynnmartin.com. Mirror–vintage from Jean-Luc Ferrand; jeanlucferrand.com. Bed–custom design by NBA and Estudio Furnishings. MASTER BATH: Paint–Wimborne White by Farrow and Ball. Light fixture–vintage crystal basket chandelier from Daniel Barney; danielbarney.com. Vanity–custom from Old Plank Road. Table–Afriba side table by Christian Astuguevielle from Holly Hunt; hollyhunt.com. Mirror–Pillar Mirror from Chloe Alberry; chloealberry.com. DRESSING ROOM: Custom island–by NBA and Anderson Construction Group. Lamps–vintage Murano glass lamps from 1stdibs.com. Light fixture–vintage art glass ceiling fixture by Fontana Arte from Retro Modern. SON’S ROOM: Tufted banquette–custom by NBA. Artwork–Airplane Photograph by Jeffrey Milstein from Viana Art. SON’S BATH: Floor tile–Villa Lagoon; villalagoontile.com. DAUGHTER’S ROOM: Wallcovering–Phillip Jeffries; phillipjeffries.com. Rug–Catalysta by Merida; meridastudio.com. Bed–custom by NBA and Estudio Furnishings. Settee–White on White. Drapery–George Spencer; georgespencer.com. Lamp–vintage palm tree floor lamp by Herman Koegel from Goldwood by Boris; goldwoodbyboris.com. DAUGHTER’S BATH: Wallpaper–Adelphi Paper Hangings; adelphipaperhangings.com. Floor tile–Brickworks by Waterworks; waterworks.com. Mirror–vintage by Franco Albini from Las Venus; lasvenus.com. Sconces–Circa Lighting; circalighting.com. SON’S ROOM: Wallcovering–Madagascar by Hinson; donghia.com. Bookshelves–custom by NBA. Hardware–Wilmette Hardware; wilmetttehardware.com. Bed–Desert Modern Bed from Ralph Lauren Home Collection; ralphlaurenhome.com. Sofa–Soho tufted right arm sofa by Restoration Hardware; restorationhardware.com; upholstered in–Rembrandt vintage brass by Fishman Fabrics; fishmanfabrics.com. Light fixture–Brass Star ceiling fixture from Rewire.