There’s little wonder interior designer Cristina Jorge de Carvalho’s clients chose Estoril as the location for their new holiday apartment. The 60-something Brazilian couple fell in love with the Portuguese seaside town, renowned for its wide, open beaches, breathtaking ocean views and a casino purportedly the inspiration behind James Bond novel and subsequent film, Casino Royale. For a place to retreat for a few months each year, the region offers just the right mix of giddy excitement and quiet respite.
Their 170m2 two-bedroom apartment is housed on the fifth floor of a recently renovated 1930s building, which includes a boutique hotel as well as private residences. Lisbon-based de Carvalho first visited the coastal location (referred to as the ‘Portuguese Riviera’), during the building renovation’s final stage and her design concept responds to the client’s straightforward brief. “It was important for them to have a comfortable space that makes the most of the light and view,” she says. “They wanted a clean, contemporary interior that was timeless and also had a somewhat New York loft feel to it.”
Her ensuing palette favours neutral tones; predominantly white, beige and taupe, which not only gives the interior enduring appeal, but also serves to reflect the natural light and ocean. To allow greater light penetration de Carvalho demolished the existing wall separating the entry from the dining area and replaced it with her custom-designed floor-to-ceiling divide. This brushed brass and stainless steel slatted structure can be opened or closed – depending on the clients’ needs – and its versatility makes a striking addition to the apartment’s living areas.
De Carvalho’s approach to styling is bold and her furniture selection is unabashedly luxurious and high-end. She employs restraint, however, in keeping with the clients’ direction, which was to furnish the apartment in a way that appeared lived-in, without seeming cluttered.
“They wanted the space to feel open and they didn’t want a lot of furniture because it is a holiday retreat,” she explains. “So the challenge was that it had to be comfortable and feel like home, but still be practical and easy to maintain.”
Many of the pieces are bespoke, while others are designer icons, such as the Hans Wegner lounge chairs. Interspersed among them are items from de Carvalho’s own furniture collection, including the dynamically angled Threesome coffee table in the lounge area and statement Together We Stand chest of drawers and circular woollen rug in the entry. Although black accents offer contrast in the lounge and dining areas, the earthy tones found in many of the furniture pieces lend a well-considered cohesion to the overall scheme.
But it’s the heightened sense of texture that forms the interior’s most compelling design expression. This is emphasised in the kitchen’s glossy white surfaces and mirrored wall and also in the master bedroom, which features a leather headboard against textured wallpaper. Interestingly, the two bedside tables are different; a fittingly eclectic flourish reflecting the clients’ respective personalities.
The artwork throughout the apartment also adds to its tactile qualities, with de Carvalho choosing specific paintings and prints for their scale, composition and colour. She understands the value good art can add to an interior and often works closely with galleries in Lisbon to find the right investment for each of her clients. “For this project, I made a pre-selection to show the couple and then we visited the galleries together to make the final selection,” she says. The resulting collection is impressive for the quality of artists chosen, including a work by Joao Louro (Portugal’s 2015 Venice Biennale representative), which hangs above the bed in the master bedroom and the heavily detailed work in the dining room by rising multi-media artist Yonamine.
When the couple and their family spend time at the apartment during the warmer months, the glass doors are always open, as are the curtains. They take complete advantage of the ocean views via the generous 55m2 undercover terrace, a practical extension of the interior. It’s clear de Carvalho has succeeded in providing a retreat that is as relaxed as it is stylish and modern.