Luxe. – November 2019
By: Shawn Marie Gauthier, Photography: Stephen Karlisch
Interior designer Beth Dotolo, grew up on the move. With one parent on the East Coast and the other often between the East Coast and Texas, she spent her youth hopping planes back and forth. She also found herself recreating “home” in every location, looking for an anchor. “I developed this impulse to create a sense of place,” she says. “Now there’s almost a passion to construct environments where people feel connected to their surroundings; that are a true representation of their personalities.”
Walking through her clients’ home perched above Lake Washington, Dotolo felt that same desire arise. The bones were beautifully set: a modern build by the architecture firm Gelotte Hommas Dirvdahl that was elevated by classic, streamlined details. Missing was a true sense of who her clients – a couple with three children – were. “They had old furniture that didn’t work and weren’t maximizing spaces.”
Avid entertainers with impeccable taste and a full family life, they desired interiors that fit their lifestyle, they desired interiors that fit their lifestyle and would transition seamlessly from everyday living to dinner parties and were executed with a clear articulation of their personal aesthetic. “The home had to be a stylish workhorse for them – down to the details,” says Dotolo, who takes clients through an in-depth consultation and then assigns homework to determine their styles. “We landed at Ralph Lauren-meets-Chloe with splashes of culture: understated and classic, yet bold in select places.”
Dotolo’s vision begins in the entry, where an air of originality arrests the senses – the eye is immediately struck by the juxtaposition of a moody landscape with a retro arrow sculpture. Underfoot, a hand-knotted rug surprises with geometric contrast. Then the eye wanders upward to the ceiling, where the unexpected placement of wallpaper elicits a flash of awe. “Everywhere you look there’s an element of tension,” says Dotolo, who worked with her partner Carolina V. Gentry on the project. “We like to design spaces that make you think.”
Wallcoverings work to amplify visual intrigue throughout. The playroom, which serves as a homework station, comes alive with an abstract choice. Across a watercolor-esque background, large-scale ribbons twirl like doodles. Dotolo paired whimsy with efficient built-ins and classic furnishing with updated lines. In the master bedroom, where ‘serenity and sophistication” were the goal, the designer made a striking selection to complement the canopy bed. The mix is pristine: Against the patterns of overscale, impressionistic blooms, the bed’s tapered posts rise and cross-cross. “They wallcoverings added a ton of personality,” she says. “They helped the owners put their stamp on the home.”
The interior is mainly awash in neutrals, a color cue that echoes the landscape surrounding the nearby Lake Washington. The palette’s softness sits like the mist off the water – light and airy, welcoming in its subtlety yet never cold, thanks to her dynamic mix of textures. in the open living and dining areas, metallics and metals strike a satisfying sharpness against lush fabrics. In the basement family room and bar, oak, marble, porcelain, velvet and polished concrete all artfully coexist in a spectacular dance of optical harmony. Even in a space as visually stimulating as this, functionality remains at the heart. The sectional breaks apart and rearranges like building blocks accommodating anything from lounging to game night to cocktail hour. “it’s like a giant modular pit for the family,” she says. “it lends itself to relaxation and interaction on any occasion.”
Even the home’s piece de resistance is imbued with personality. Adjacent to the basement staircase is a wood-paneled wall – push gently and da portion surprisingly gives away. It’s a hidden door (complete with a staggered edge) that opens to a the wine cellar. “We took advantage of a cool design opportunity,” notes Dotolo.
She says this as if it’s something she doesn’t always do – discover design opportunities. Case in point: a photo taken by the husband’s father and displayed in a cabinet. Dotolo blew up the images, floated it in an acrylic frame, and placed it in view of the entry to highlight its significance. “Intuition is one of my design superpowers,” she says. “This photo represented their family culture; it helped tie them to the physical space.” In essence, it established a sense of place – and turned a house into a home.