Excerpted from Washington Home & Design Magazine, Jan/Feb 2012
Once ridiculed as “antipasto on the Potomac,” the Watergate complex designed by Italian architect Luigi Moretti has become one of Washington’s most respectable addresses. But its curvaceous 1960s architecture still poses design challenges for residents seeking to transform their outdated apartments for contemporary living.
Inside, the living area now extends from the terrace door to the kitchen and an adjoining nook for watching TV. The rear wall of the kitchen isn’t tiled or painted, but covered in boards made of recycled wood fiber, fly ash and cement. A row of fir cabinets stands out against the gray panels and white-lacquered drawers under the Corian countertops add more contrast. “I now enjoy cooking so much more,” says the homeowner. “The previous kitchen had very little counter space and storage, and very little connection to the rest of the apartment.”
“A neutral color scheme allows sculptural objects, in this case iconic furniture, and artwork to stand out,” says Santalla. “An element of contrast, such as a tone or a texture, adds richness to the palette.”
In the master bedroom, Santalla designed the bed frame with attached nightstands and upholstered the adjacent wall to create an oversized headboard. He created a television stand on the adjacent wall that allows the screen to swivel so it can be viewed from the bed or terrace.
Of all the renovation challenges facing the couple, one of the most problematic was deciding what to do with the original parquet floors in the living space. Santalla came up with the idea of staining the existing wood and extending the same dark tone to the terrace floor.
“Now the indoor and outdoor parts of the apartment are integrated to create an almost seamless space,” says the homeowner. “The design succeeds in realizing the promise of what the Watergate can be.”
Project completed in collaboration with Treacy & Eagleburger.
Photography by Alan Karchmer