Urban Home Magazine - October/November 2014

Urban Home profiles a Four Seasons Residences condo designed by Cravotta Interiors.
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  By MAURI ELBEL  | Photography by PAUL BARDAGJY The high-end residences soaring from Austin’s downtown blocks often adhere to a certain aesthetic: modern, clean-edged, and occasionally, unapproachable. ut leave it to designer Mark Cravotta and builder David Wilkes to create a stunning space that effectively marries modern and traditional with a brilliant balance of custom creations and vintage finds. “I’m the first to admit when it comes to design, I’m not a purist,” says Cravotta. “I love to mix styles. I’m a fan of the unexpected. I never want a room to look too new. Ideally, I want it to look as if it were carefully collected and curated over time –– even if it was not in actuality.” When a semi-retired bachelor purchased a 4,208-square-foot home as a pied-à-terre in the Four Seasons Residences, the downtown Austin high-rise designed by architect Michael Graves, he wanted a place that felt like home.Te sprawling three bedroom, three-and-one-half bathroom home complete with a media room boasts spectacular panoramic views of Lady Bird Lake and Austin’s iconic downtown from balconies connected to the main living area and master suite as  well as floor-to-ceiling windows wrapping the spacious condo.Inside, the design is a surprising mix of traditional ranch-style elements and modern finishes, resulting in space that is unapologetically masculine yet elegant and timeless.“I love the way it feels warm, rich and artful yet totally comfortable and accessible,” says Cravotta. “Tis is a place where you want to plop down in every room of the home.”Te client’s primary residence is a ranch outside of Austin  where he spends the majority of his time, but he also enjoys the arts and entertainment scene a downtown lifestyle affords.“Tis client has lived all over the world and has sophisticated taste so I wanted to design a home for him to not only reflect his personality, but also the new cosmopolitan vibe that’s starting to arise in Austin,” says Cravotta. “Te most important B PALATIAL PIED-À-TERRE RICH AND RUSTIC MEETS WARM AND ELEGANT IN THIS REMODELED DOWNTOWN AUSTIN RESIDENCE URBAN HOME AUSIN 󲀓 SAN ANONIO  29 28  URBAN HOME AUSIN 󲀓 SAN ANONIO  objective for the client was to have a fun and comfortable place to entertain. ogether we strived to create a space where guests  would be drawn in and want to linger.”Since this is a second home, there weren’t any existing items to incorporate into the design, which provided a blank canvas for Cravotta to fill with thoughtfully selected pieces.“We cast a wide net, scouring the world for beautiful and interesting pieces and then composed those pieces into an environment that felt right for the client,” says Cravotta. “Te great room is an example of a space where almost everything is new.” Wilkes, who has a 20-year history of successful collaborations  with award-winning architects and interior designers, worked closely with Cravotta to remove walls during the remodel of the expansive space, enlarging the hallway and accommodating for custom furniture pieces and designs. “Te wine room was created using part of a hallway and some of the master closet,” says Wilkes of the striking floor-to-ceiling  wine wall featuring custom mahogany wood shelving. A warm red- and brown-toned brick wall runs along the hallway, against the wine wall and continues through the living area, furthering the rustic, masculine look that distinguishes this residential high-rise. In order to add the wall without the weight, Wilkes used half-bricks which resemble full bricks and furred out the wall for URBAN HOME AUSIN 󲀓 SAN ANONIO  31 30  URBAN HOME AUSIN 󲀓 SAN ANONIO  added thickness to achieve the authentic look.“Our stone mason did an amazing job with the installation, making it look as if it had been there for many, many years,” says Wilkes. “I think the brick work gave it such a unique look.”In the kitchen, Wilkes reinforced the ceiling and hung a custom-lighted pot rack in the center. Stainless steel pots float above the island, providing a shimmering focal point in the clean-lined culinary space while cleverly creating additional storage.Troughout the house, there is a clever weaving of old and new. Gravitating toward some of his favorites, Cravotta hand selected pieces from Flexform, Holly Hunt, Jean de Merry, Rose arlow, Jim Zivic Design and Blackman Cruz.Most items found throughout the home are new purchases  with the exception of certain vintage elements –– the 1950’s German oak and stainless steel night stands; the Gio Ponti cocktail table in the master lounge, the sculptural bronze and glass side table in the study and the 100-year-old Moroccan rug. But a surprising number of items found throughout the remodel are custom-designed by Cravotta himself. For example, the Austin-based designer created both the dry bar and the dining table seen in the great room; the overhead planters and cocktail table on the terrace; the leather-wrapped steel bed and teak dresser in the guest room; the small bronze side table in the media room; and the distinctive bed and bench in the master bedroom. Upon entering, an ageless charm captivates you. Cravotta especially loves the entry featuring a spectacular 1940’s Italian breakfront thought to be by Ico Parisi as well as the custom touches like the handmade drapery seen in both the master URBAN HOME AUSIN 󲀓 SAN ANONIO  33 32  URBAN HOME AUSIN 󲀓 SAN ANONIO  bedroom and lounge crafted by a talented Brooklyn-based artist. Unexpected specialty finishes command attention throughout the home, from the hand-made gray-on-gray square paper covering the master bedroom wall and unique ceiling treatments to the impressive wine wall and entry walls covered in soft linen. “We used a lot of specialty finishes,” says Cravotta citing eye-catching selections such as the handmade plaster wallpaper imprinted with a shagreen pattern on the great room ceiling and hand-painted wallpaper in the media room made to resemble a starry night sky.Decorative art lighting, sconces and suspended fixtures provide a playful and effective glow throughout each room –– from the pendants floating above the bar made of bronze castings of hand-turned burl wood bowls to the bronze sputnik-inspired chandelier in the master bedroom designed by Jean de Merry. Te entry chandelier is a rare example of an early 20th century art deco lighting by the legendary Swedish maker Orrefors while the dining room chandelier is a one-of-a-kind vintage brass and glass fixture from the 1960’s that Cravotta found in Los Angeles.“In this home, the decorative lighting provides both warmth and intimacy,” says Cravotta. “Tey also play dual roles in and of themselves as both furnishing and art.” v BUILDER  David Wilkes Builders512.328.9888 |  DESIGNER Cravotta Interiors512.499.0400 | 34  URBAN HOME AUSIN 󲀓 SAN ANONIO
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