on Wednesday 15 September 2010

Amazing return to lost paradise is what pops in my head when I see this wonderful stone house resort designed by its owners, co-workers and close friends architect Steven Harris and interior designer Lucien Rees Roberts from Steven Harris Architects LLP and Rees Roberts + Partners.

Their work as co-partners encompasses a wide range of projects around the world. Known for elegant and functional architecture, landscape and interiors, they create spaces that are custom-tailored to the context of each location and the character of the individual client. Since 2008 they are both inductees of the prestigious design community in the Interior Design Hall of Fame.

There were series of fortunate events that led Steven Harris and Lucien Rees Roberts to an island off the Dalmatian coast. Rees Robert’s parents had vacation house on the Catalan coast for more than 50 years but he decided to move on to find the solitude lost. An architect of Croatian descent Antonio Zaninovic happened to be working in Harris’s architectural office and after returning from visiting his grandfather there, he brought tales of unspoiled coastal beauty. Harris and Rees Roberts were soon on a plane. They came, they saw, they bought and restored a charming stone cottage. Their vacation getaway is located on car-free Island Lopud in Elafiti Archipelago near Dubrovnik, Croatia (my homeland. :) 

The house is a restoration of a compound of 15th century lime stone buildings facing a cinematic panorama on the harbor. They created large, open spaces within the 1,500-square-foot stone shell. The old style stone walls, exposed ceiling beams and real wooden floors are superbly combined with modern furniture and fittings, achieving a luxurious but understated result. 

To capitalize on the view and breezes, they sited the living room on the second floor and placed the kitchen and dining room downstairs, with French doors opening onto the gardens. Throughout, they stripped wood paneling back to the stone walls and maintained the existing ceiling timbers. In the living room, the 15th-century carved stone recessed water sink and shelf contrasts with the modern steel fireplace hood. The dining room is situated at the center of the house, with terrace and island views on one side and a citrus court on the other. 

But what truly sets the project apart is the sophistication of the contemporary furniture in contrast to the old house. Pedigreed Modernist pieces such as Pierre Paulin’s Ribbon chair in bedroom and re-edition of Dinamarquesa rosewood armchairs by Brazilian Jorge Zalszupin in living room hold their place as futuristic sculptures.  

Architecture: Steven Harris Architects LLP
Interior design & landscape: Rees Roberts + Partners
Photography: Scott Frances
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