Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Gene Meyer's Tangier Oasis

Every time someone asks me what my "design style" is, I've noticed my answer seems to change a bit.  I loathe the general "modern", "traditional" or "transitional" categories; they barely convey anything about what someone truly gravitates towards.   However, I do know what makes my heart leap, and sometimes I find it much easier to point someone towards a body of work that I feel exemplifies my style.  For me, that would definitely be Gene Meyer and Frank de Biasi's Tangier abode.  Full of punchy color, relaxed and unpretentious, layered in textiles, sun-drenched, and chock full of contrasting design pieces that somehow harmonize together- this home hits all the high notes for me:

 The two southerners perched in their home's terrace.  Gene, pictured left, is originally from Louisville, Kentucky, and Frank hails from Richmond, Virginia, and the leisurely pace of Tangier coupled with the friendliness of the people appealed to them both.  Ever since I left Marrakech, Morocco last November, I've been dreaming of returning ASAP- and this time, Tangier is definitely on the list.  My own dream is to have a home in Morocco one day.  A small niche on the first floor features yellow curtains that appear in this photo to be my favorite color of all, chartreuse, paired with a coral lantern designed by the couple:

{and how adorable is the chintz slipcover on the armless chair? It reminds me of Lee Jofa's Hollyhock.}

The couple found a traditional Tangier home they loved on an open square, but wanted to open it up a bit and allow in more light.  The renovation ultimately took four years (it makes me shudder to think about), and included adding a lightwell based off of one Frank saw in India, replacing a life-threatening staircase with one based off of the Old Fort Bay clubhouse in the Bahamas, and replacing the thin walls.  The room at the base of the stairs pictured below shows how the couple expertly merged relaxed seating with antique furniture to create a happy mix.  

The chintz on the armchairs shown in the foreground above and on the armchair below is 1940s vintage, but it sort of reminds me of a dressed up version of Clarence House's Dahlia:

Portrait paintings hung behind the armchair were done by Gene himself. When the couple discuss their approach to decorating the house, Frank explained that while color comes first for Gene, for him, it's all about form, layout and function.  They took inspiration from various sources, such as the incised plasterwork on Yves Saint Laurent's bedroom ceiling and the fireplace mantel of botanist and writer Umberto Pasti.  

The kitchen is unexpected and cheery in all the best ways. The cabinetry features an inset trellis design while the floors are constructed of reclaimed marble paired with locally-made glazed and unglazed tile.  The sink and fittings are by the Parisian company Volevatch.  The curtains hung under the sink are composed of a vintage Malian fabric:

A color combo to love if I ever saw one:  yellow, coral, and light sea blue/turquoise add charm, especially when paired with framed pressed botanicals by Stuart Thornton:

This photo shows the walkway between the living and dining rooms, divided beautifully by a Mashrabiya screen:

The living room features pink walls that were inspired by a 1940s cottage the couple used to own in Miami, with a frieze of Majolica plates atop spearmint green.  The sofa and slipper side chairs are covered in another fabulous chintz by Cowtan & Tout:

The majolica plate frieze continues in to the dining room, which features straw animal heads found at the local markets above the fireplace.  The dining chairs are Scottish Regency:

The master bedroom features a Portuguese turned rosewood bed with a loosely gathered fabric canopy, and an intricately carved Moroccan screen seen below in the foreground:

Another angle of the master bedroom shows a cluster of Italian Renaissance paintings and a lovely custom slipcover on a side chair:

The love affair for me continues in to the master bath, where I love no stone more than an excessively veined marble.  A Portuguese pendant hangs from the ceiling, while the floors are covered in the most interested mosaic pattern:

The guest room features a striped wallcovering and painted green moulding.   My favorite element is the painted sisal rug.  In a way it reminds me of Marian McEvoy's painted lampshade designs (who also happens to be the queen of the glue-gun):

Like any design project, the charm of the house is largely thanks to the local craftsmen and tradespeople who came together to make Gene and Frank's vision a reality.  Any designer knows it is one thing to envision a design, but quite another to execute it well. 

The roof terrace would be perfect for unwinding at the end of any day, especially with a glass of rose in hand.  Alexander Hoyle helped design Gene and Frank's layout, which feels like a Henry Rousseau painting:

This last photo also happens to be my laptop wallpaper.  Ah, what a fantastic home.  Read the full story about the intricate design process here.

{images and details via Architectural Digest}



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