Inky-black and grey tones layered with warm, neutral woods and textiles create the effortless but thoughtful look the homeowner wanted.
When bank executive Aly Sumar (along with his dog, Polo) was on the hunt for a new home, he enlisted his long-time trusted friend, interior designer Elena Del Bucchia, to assist in his search. Together, they scrutinized countless homes and new builds before Sumar finally settled on a duplex infill in Marda Loop that was on the cusp of the development phase.
Sumar had many ideas on how he wanted his home to look, but needed them refined by a designer. “I wanted the home to look effortless, but also like I put some thought into it,” he says. “It was a little bit challenging for Elena to work with me as I didn’t know exactly what I wanted yet, but I had opinions about everything. In the end, I put my trust in her, and based on her knowledge of my design sense, she was able to come up with an incredible plan for the entire home.”
That master plan involved scrapping the builder’s cookie-cutter blueprint for the space and designing a completely custom interior with strong attention to detail and custom millwork. Exquisite detailing is apparent throughout the home, from the custom cabinetry in the kitchen to the inventive storage solutions found in every room. The custom staircase, built by Spindle, Stairs & Railings with a black-slat feature wall, is a showcase example of the clever and dynamic contemporary design that Del Bucchia injected into the infill.
Designing a kitchen specifically for Sumar
As someone who loves to entertain and cook, Sumar wanted an open-concept kitchen, dining and living area that would allow his guests to meander effortlessly throughout the main floor. While each individual area stands alone beautifully, the entire floor is designed to flow and connect. The monochromatic colour scheme is intentional – the inky-black lower cabinets and Muuto Bell pendant lamp ground the design, whereas the subtle colours found in the furniture, art and accessories project Sumar’s bold personality.
“The first thing people always say when they visit for the first time is how calm and peaceful it is in here,” says Sumar. “I think that is the biggest compliment I could get as a homeowner. I wanted it to be open and clean, with nothing too over-the-top.”
The island countertop is made of a unique material called Dekton, a near-indestructible surface that is ideal for the epic home-cooked buffets Sumar serves up to friends and family. “No matter what, everyone always ends up in the kitchen when they come over, so Elena and I were really conscious of the space around the island during the design process,” says Sumar.
Picking up on design cues
Del Bucchia used the time allotted for selecting finishes and furniture as an opportunity to really get to know Sumar better. “You learn about things like their lifestyle, personality, interests and what they do for fun, what their heritage is, whether they have pets or kids or both,” says the designer. “It is all important to the overall concept.”
As she went to task on filling the home with sophisticated pieces of furniture and fixtures that would fit Sumar’s lifestyle and taste, Del Bucchia’s decision to include warm neutrals and textures into the otherwise predominantly black and white space surprised even her.
“The living-room rug was our inspiration starting point for the rest of the decor,” she says. “Most of the finishes are monochromatic, but once we saw the rug we decided to add more colour. You’ll find those great muted hues in the rug popping up throughout the rest of the home.”
Instead of the dark leather living-room furniture he’s usually drawn to, Sumar fell for a custom Montauk sofa that has an almost vintage-looking soft, neutral, plaid upholstery (his dog Polo happens to love it, too). They kept the master bedroom simple, with a warm walnut Modernica bed frame, matching nightstands and an understated patterned wallpaper on the ceiling.
“The home is very masculine; the finishes and architectural elements are on the contemporary side with modern touches. At the same time, some of the decor has classical elements,” says Del Bucchia. “Aly likes luxury, but only when it is presented in a subtle way.”
Designer Elena Del Bucchia added extra seating and storage into the design of the custom-built slat-wall and staircase.
The custom slat-wall and railing leads to the second level of the home, where Sumar can enjoy the natural light in a small sitting area.
Del Bucchia in the custom-built kitchen, which includes unexpected touches such as this Marcantonio Raimondi Malerba monkey lamp from Dade Loft.
Custom millwork details, such as this built-in bookshelf adjacent to the fireplace in the living room, are found throughout the home.
The minimal master bedroom is kept from feeling sparse with the addition of quirky touches such as the Restoration Hardware wall sconces and the patterned wallpaper on the ceiling.
Elena Del Bucchia’s tips for achieving a personalized look
Focus on finishes
Keep the overall space monochromatic and introduce colour, pattern and texture in other applications. Go the extra mile by focusing on the client’s main interests. In Aly Sumar’s case it was the kitchen and his love of cooking. Del Bucchia made sure to source the best kitchen appliances that also worked with the overall look of the room.
The furniture you pick is important
Introduce unique materials and textures to add impact. The wooden puzzle coffee table from Sanctuary Loft in the living room is both visually interesting and reflects the homeowner’s taste.
Think about accessories and art
The home’s accessories and artwork should always reflect the homeowner’s personality. Showcasing artwork that represents your personal style and taste will express a more natural approach to the home’s overall design.