Racy & Refined
On Long Island’s Gold Coast, the aesthetic of speed meets domestic tranquility.
How do you decorate a home for a husband who feels the need for speed and a wife who, although a devoted athlete and mother of high energy kids, relishes tranquility? “It was less of a challenge than you might think,” says interior designer Mary Piselli.
Like many of his tech-world brethren, the man of the house, owner of a successful digital media agency, loves race cars. His new home in Old Brookville, New York, has two spacious garages, one for his white vehicles and one for his black ones. The hobby is everywhere on display in the home’s interior, but in a way that ends up feeling natural and unobtrusive. In one room we find a glass-top end table fashioned from a wood and steel steering wheel. In the office is a desk made from riveted aluminum, resembling an airplane wing.
The aesthetic of speed has influenced modern design since the dawn of the automobile and manned flight. “Consider the Chrysler Building as a preeminent example,” says Piselli. “Anything Art Deco—how about a cocktail shaker in the form of a race car, dirigible or airplane?—still feels fresh nearly a century later.”
While the office has a vintage feel, the master bedroom evokes the glamor of old Hollywood. Both looks. it turns out, go well together.
In addition to these kinds of reminders of mechanized movement, most rooms in the home contain a wall-mounted video monitor, so the family can always tune into Formula 1 or other programming for a virtual speed fix. Books on automobilia and car magazines serve the same function.
Yet the atmosphere of the home (notwithstanding the presence of small children) is far from frenetic. The solid, traditional architecture is complemented by transitional furnishings in a neutral color palette, creating an overall aura of peaceful relaxation. Deep upholstered pieces, decorative pillows, leather wing chairs and welcoming fireplaces beckon the guest to linger and relax. Within this unified style, each room manages to have its own personality. The office, with its metal furniture and automotive accessories, has a masculine, vintage vibe. The master bedroom, in contrast, is refined, sophisticated and reminiscent of old Hollywood.
It’s a nice trick of design, enabled by the digital world: Depending on how the space is used—that is, whether the electronics are on or off—every room in the house can adjust to the occupant’s mood and energy level. This home is further proof that traditional and contemporary, fast and slow, play well together.