AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGNER CREATES HER SANCTUARY IN BALI
When Jodi Cooper first visited Nusa Lembongan, an island located southeast of Bali, Indonesia, in 2012, she felt as if she’d entered a wholly different world. “The mainland had lost its appeal due to tourism and overcrowding, so when I first visited Lembongan it was like being in a time warp,” says the Australia-based designer. “It was so beautiful and unspoiled by tourism.” It had been a dream for Cooper for some time to have her own piece of paradise in Bali, but it wasn’t until visiting Nusa Lembongan that she realized this was where she was meant to be. Just eight weeks after visiting the island, Cooper purchased the land where she would build one of the most significant projects in her portfolio to date.
“The island and the location are the magic ingredients that make 353 Degrees North such a special place,” she says of her sweeping property overlooking the lush tropical landscape with direct views of Mount Agung, an active volcano, on East Bali. While construction for her home proved to be somewhat of a challenge—“There were lots of learning curves and the price to build was approximately 30 percent more than on the mainland, and a lot of additional issues such as power supply and fresh water to consider, also local culture and traditions to be respectful of,” Cooper explains—the design itself was seamless. “I wanted this home to be an experience, not just a destination,” she says of the home’s design. To achieve this, Cooper wanted to maximize the views from every room in the home while also taking great care not to remove too much of the vegetation surrounding the home. The architecture and interior design needed to be clean and minimal allowing the views to take center stage while a combination of Balinese and Moroccan architecture and aesthetics would define the interiors and create a comfortable and casual setting.
Cooper designed the villa for her to live in alone, which meant the main building served as the central hub of the property and was “designed to be my ideal space and not too large if I was entertaining visitors,” she says. The guest wing provides a private sanctuary for visitors yet still feels a part of the main villa. The open concept was important to Cooper as she wanted the spaces to flow from the inside out and, “to be open and free of unnecessary furniture and accessories that would obstruct the views” or simply over-define each space. The choice to forgo a dining room was to encourage guests to eat by the pool, on the roof, or in one of the many outdoor living spaces.
A worldly traveler, Cooper sourced furniture, accessories, and artwork in the home from her travels. “I have been fortunate to travel to amazing places and I always try to purchase something that is unique to the culture,” she says. Floors throughout the villa feature vintage rugs from Marrakech, Fez, and Tangier, and vintage Moroccan Bedouin mats complete with ingrained desert sand. Stunning artwork and installations such as the embroidered Suzanis hanging in the villa were purchased while in Uzbekistan. Custom-designed teak wood hand-carved by local artisans surrounds some of the doorways, archways, and doors throughout the villa provide a touch of Balinese culture. And in the master bedroom, a custom-designed headboard flanked with carved doors and antique hand-painted ice containers from China used for side tables lead to a luxurious en suite with garden shower and custom-designed, Moroccan-inspired cabinetry.
While the construction process was challenging to oversee while based in West Perth, Australia, Cooper’s vision was brought to fruition: the home is the ultimate experience she had been hoping for. “I think the experience is different for everyone who stays at 353 Degrees North,” she says. “For me, it is a place to disconnect with technology and reconnect with nature. A week can feel like a month. It definitely restores your energy.”
A DUBLIN, IRELAND PROPERTY GETS A SECOND CHANCE AT A FIRST IMPRESSION
Though Roisin Lafferty, creative director of Dublin, Ireland-based Kingston Lafferty Design (KLD), considers this project their most challenging to date, the end result shows no sign of its original condition. The setting of this mid-terrace, Georgian townhouse was ideal—Mountpleasant Square in Ranelagh, a leafy South Dublin city with a lovely village—the property was another story. Before the creative team could select finishes and paint colors, they had to address foundational issues. The structurally-unsound conservation project with highly restricted access had been neglected for years, which proved detrimental to its structural integrity. Extensive work was required to support the existing and proposed structures and to retain the neighboring properties.
The goal was to strip and redesign the existing circa-1817 house with a large, double-height extension and a fully landscaped garden. “The main objective for the interiors was to maximize the space and direct as much natural light as possible into the existing property,” says Lafferty. “The entire basement was reduced to improve floor-to-ceiling height and the rear garden was extensively excavated to allow for the construction of a large conservatory extension.”
Because the property is fully conservation-protected, particular care was paid to the materials and construction. “For me, it was all about retaining the original character and history. And by keeping it more traditional, it was easier to get planning permission,” says Lafferty. “The challenge was to avoid pastiche, and to achieve the right balance between contemporary and traditional.”
A sleek, new basement kitchen features reflective surfaces to counteract the north-facing orientation of the garden. The lacquered cabinetry and waterfall island are complemented by Silestone worktops. A bespoke blue pantry wall of storage with cabinets in different depths conceals the angled wall behind them. Honed-limestone tile with under-floor heating was chosen for the basement, while the original floors remain in the living room and library.
Aesthetically, the 2,200-square-foot dwelling reflects the client’s eclectic style, paying homage to the original era while maintaining modern conveniences. Among the distinctive displays are a mix of old and new plates in the kitchen and old frames artfully arranged in other rooms. “We do some restaurant design and like taking ideas from commercial spaces and bringing them into the home,” says Lafferty. “Things tend to look better in clusters; even a set of IKEA frames will look stronger than one on its own.”
Unique furnishings include a coffee table from Roche Bobois in the mint-green paneled library. “It almost looks like a diamond,” says Lafferty who also loves the rug in the same room from Bluebellgray that ties the room together. As for lighting, she considers the Skygarden pendants by Marcel Wanders the real showstoppers. For Lafferty, effective lighting is key to a successful scheme. “I went for Tom Dixon’s [copper round pendant light] in the master bedroom. It radiates a lovely warm glow and is very relaxing,” she says. “Although the bedrooms have large windows, not a lot of natural light comes in. So, I went for a moody, atmospheric look in the master bedroom, and kept the other two bedrooms brighter.”
In the conservatory, the statement light is the Raimond by Moooi. By dividing the garden into three different levels, Lafferty created a large, light-filled extension that complemented the original style of the building. “The linear forms and raw materials create a contemporary space which juxtaposes beautifully within the period features of the original property and the traditional-style conservatory,” says Lafferty.
Salvage yards yielded such gems as the cast-iron spiral staircase in the conservatory extension, an old door that became an outdoor dining table, and a tree-surround bench that is now a coffee table in the living room.
The homeowners purchased the stained-glass panels in the kitchen and library at an antiques shop in Paris. “We teamed them with low-hanging pendants to add to the brasserie style, while mirrors were fixed to the wall behind the glass panels to add depth,” says Lafferty.
The once dark and dingy basement is now the bright and open hub of the home where the owners enjoy hosting their children and grandchildren. For Lafferty, it’s not just about the look, it’s about a lifestyle. “I always think about the experience the user is going to have,” she says. “A space needs to be fully functional as well as beautiful.”