A modern new home becomes a work of art that makes the most of Puerto Rico’s soothing seascape.
When designing this oceanfront residence for an art enthusiast, the architect aimed to make the home a sculpture worthy of the owner’s collection. He achieved it with a modern, minimalist approach that marries form with function and blurs the lines between inside and out-of-doors. “It’s the intersection of art and architecture,” says Scott Lee, president and principal of the San Francisco–based SB Architects. The newly constructed 14,000-square-foot, two-story project, located at the St. Regis Bahía Beach Resort in Puerto Rico, opens to the Atlantic Ocean and was designed to mirror its sun-drenched, breezy surroundings.
“It has a hint of midcentury modernism, with its overhangs and horizontal lines and its simplicity of color and form,” Lee says. The Puerto Rican fashion designer Nono Maldonado, who also specializes in interior design, oversaw the interiors and created several bespoke pieces for the five-bedroom, seven-bath property (which also includes quarters for staff). “It’s sea and sky,” Maldonado says of the minimalist aesthetic. He chose whitewashed oak and muted hues to evoke a serene airiness and limestone from Portugal to create a matte, sandy look to the floors. Touches of blue and green mimic the changing tints of the ocean and the lush grounds, which were designed by the global landscape-architecture firm EDSA.
A serpentine driveway dotted with indigenous plants and trees leads the way to a motor court in front of the residence. A dramatic overhang above the front entrance is a functional focal point, painting the entryway with shade and shadows. A hammered-limestone walkway splits a reflecting pool in two, creating a moatlike entrance to the house. Inside, a similar pool brings the outside in, unexpectedly, beneath a floating glass-and-whitewashed-oak staircase. “I wanted a sculptural, zigzag centerpiece,” Maldonado says of his inspiration for the suspended stairs. A Bocci light fixture cascades overhead.
Even the bespoke 12-foot-tall louvers that partially divide the light-drenched foyer from the spacious living room function as works of art. Maldonado designed the panels (and commissioned New York–based Carvart to manufacture them) with stripes etched into the double panes of glass. In the double-height living room, he strategically placed lacquered oak cubes in one part of the room. “They become a wall sculpture because of the way the light hits it during the day and in the evening,” he says. Ivory and beige herringbone sofas and linen and cotton chairs from Roche Bobois furnish the area, next to Maldonado-designed mirrors and Flos lamps.
Floor-to-ceiling glass walls with sliding doors provide a nearly seamless transition from the living and dining areas to the pool deck and views of the lawn and sea beyond. “You walk in and boom, you see the horizon; you see the water. That’s the big move,” Lee says. “None of what we did in the house was to take away from the primary view.” Thoughtfully designed to maximize its waterfront location, the living room also fulfilled the owner’s request for a large entertaining space.
The adjacent formal dining room features a Maldonado-designed, Carvart-produced glass dining table embedded with sheer linen fabric. Bleached-maple chairs surround the table, and the overall result is beachy chic. Another Bocci-designed light fixture illuminates the 12-person table, and cove lighting can set the mood. Sharing the same space is a more intimate family area that features additional lighting from Flos and Roche Bobois lounging chairs.
The enclosed kitchen satisfied the owner’s desire for a cooking space separate from the home’s entertaining areas. “[This] kitchen is more of an area to stage and prep,” Lee says. The sleek white setup features Poliform matte lacquer cabinets; Italian quartz was used for the backsplash, countertops, and waterfall counter on the island, with appliances by Sub-Zero and Wolf. The oval pedestal table is by Eero Saarinen for Knoll, and the thin-legged bar stools and chairs custom-made by Cite lend a lightness to the space.
The second-story master suite showcases a custom bed, sofa, and ottomans from Mitchell Gold, a Roche Bobois credenza, and night tables and slipper chairs designed by Maldonado, all positioned to take full advantage of the ocean views beyond the balcony. The oak flooring from PID Floors was custom made in Italy, and Maldonado commissioned Stark Carpet to craft area rugs to match the wood, again creating a seamless serenity. “We copied the wood grain so you don’t see where the area rug ends and the wood begins,” Maldonado says. To avoid cluttering the room with a wall-mounted television, he designed a cerused white oak cabinet to hide the 55-inch screen. His and her dressing rooms and walk-in closets lead to his and her limestone-lined bathrooms outfitted with deep soaking tubs and sizable showers by Duravit with Hansgrohe fixtures.
Outside, the backyard provides additional opportunities for entertaining. A powder-coated-aluminum pavilion covers an alfresco bar and kitchen, and outdoor furnishings from Janus et Cie and B&B Italia provide plenty of opportunities to lounge. An infinity-edge pool overlooks the lawn, which can accommodate everything from picnics to games to parties, and from there it’s just steps to the beach. “It’s similar to the great lawn in front of the arrival building at the St. Regis,” Lee explains. “[The owner] wanted the grass to roll down to the sand, which would roll down to the water.”
And if the pleasures of home become too isolated, a Robert Trent Jones Jr.–designed golf course, a bar and restaurants, a spa, a tennis center, and a slew of other amenities are accessible at the St. Regis resort. The art of living well never looked so serene.