This Serene SoHo Loft Is the Ultimate Urban Oasis

Christiane Lemieux

When New York interior designer Laura Santos went looking for her new home a few years ago, she immediately began in the city's SoHo neighborhood. But Santos, like most designers, first notices flow, proportion, and light in a space, so she considered the standard loft layout—long, rectangular, often dark—unappealing. Fortunately, it didn't take long for her to find exactly what she was looking for in an unusual floor plan for the area, a 4,000-square-foot space in a 1929 four-story edifice. The scope of the building, originally built as a parking garage, is grand, with 14-foot ceilings and 55 feet of casement windows stretching across the front façade. “I fell in love with the windows," says Santos, looking back. "The original black metal is incredible; you can see the age and patina—a huge part of the beauty of the space.”

The custom kitchen cleverly marks the transition between the public and private spaces, and features an oversized quartzite island. The stools are by Ilmari Tapiovaara from Dual Modern. The painting is by Susan Vecsey.

The loft's vast scale and especially high ceilings proved to be both a blessing and a design challenge. “It can be more difficult to add comfort and warmth," comments Santos, who above all else wanted the space to feel cozy. With her typically deft use of material and texture, Santos employed plaster to create a rich, layered white cube in the front open-plan part of the loft, which comprises the living and dining area. Santos also framed the fireplace with bookshelves to add dimension and color. “The perfect stone is everything," she says. "The fireplace stone was daring, but because everything is so subtle—the plaster, the wood—I took a chance on the mantel, which had just the right amount of color." The apartment's layout also afforded the opportunity to include large-scale pieces, such as two Vladimir Kagan Cloud sofas and a monumental statement Sputnik-style chandelier. Of the latter fixture, she says, “I needed something that would fill the volume of the ceiling height with a transparency that does not obscure the diptych I love by Mark Francis.”

The kitchen area added more natural warmth, with its wood cabinetry and material texture. The wall that extends past the breakfast nook creates a clever partition, creating subspaces in the front of the loft while also concealing part of the kitchen. Santos then created a butler’s pantry behind the main wall, so that while entertaining, the cooking, plating, and dirty dishes would remain out of sight.

Laura’s quietly luxurious master bedroom has a custom bed and bedside tables by Laura Santos Interiors fabricated by Dune. The iconic wall sconces are from 1950 by French designer Jean Royère, circa 1950 from H.M. Luther. The sculptural Italian 1950s chair and ottoman are by Marco Zanuso from the Wooster Gallery. The throw at the end of the bed is a vintage Moroccan silk kilim that Santos collected on her travels. The rug was sourced from FJ Hakimian. The custom drapes are made from fabric by de Le Cuona. The painting is by Dana Schutz.

The wood detail from the public spaces extends into the master bedroom. Santos, a huge fan of 1940s French decorating master Jean-Michel Frank’s use of cerused white oak, contemplated doing her whole bedroom in his signature material. Ultimately talking herself out of the idea, she decided instead to combine it with a subtle, creamy limestone-like plaster treatment, yielding a textural dry finish. By design, each of the other bedrooms uses the most of any natural light. Though Santos says she was happy with the home's original layout, she made some other minor adjustments—with the help of her architect, Method Design, and contractor, Riverside Builders—like moving the master bedroom closer to a wall of windows. For the bathrooms, travertine was installed to heighten the organic feeling throughout. “Each stone was chosen for its subtle movement, so that they all hang harmoniously together," she says.

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Ultimately, the space combines the high ceilings and open plan of a loft in the front and the comfort of an apartment with privacy and ample light in the back. And the balance of elements creates a timelessness. Santos is known for spaces that are designed to be soulful and effortless, a difficult balance she exemplifies at home. “Nothing overwhelms and everything is working in concert," she says. "The wood, the plaster, and the stone all combine to create this sense of warmth, harmony, and the feeling that the space has always been like this.”

This Serene SoHo Loft Is the Ultimate Urban Oasis

The open space at the front of designer Laura Santos's SoHo loft comprises two Cloud sofas by Vladimir Kagan from Ralph Pucci. The coffee table is by Ado Chale, designed in Belgium in 1970 and purchased from Van den Akker Antiques. The side table is by Les Prismatiques, designed in France in the 1960s and purchased from Wyeth. The standing sculpture is attributed to Leo Amino and designed in 1950 and also purchased from Wyeth. The floor lamp is French, 1940s and from the Wooster Gallery, while the rug is from Woven Accents. The loft’s drapes are custom, with material from Calvin Fabrics.
Santos created a small reading nook to act both as a place to take advantage of the gorgeous book shelves and as a transition to the open plan in the front of loft. The custom chaise, made to delineate the space, is by Laura Santos Interiors and fabricated by Dune. The petite and decorative side table by Hervé Van der Straeten from Maison Gerard. The painting is by John Wesley.
The dining table is by BDDW, and the chairs are by Joaquim Tenreiro, designed in Brazil in 1942 and purchased from R & Company. The voluminous ceiling height is purposely filled by a monumental Sputnik-style pendant from ma+39. The paintings are by Mark Francis.
The custom kitchen cleverly marks the transition between the public and private spaces, and features an oversized quartzite island. The stools are by Ilmari Tapiovaara from Dual Modern. The painting is by Susan Vecsey.
Santos artfully extended the wood wall details into a breakfast nook and created a table by combining a  textural top from Paul Kingma designed in the Netherlands in 1978 and purchased from Van den Akker Antiques, with a custom  base by Laura Santos Interiors fabricated by Vigilant Design. The chairs were designed by Joaquim Tenreiro in the 1950s in Brazil and purchased at R & Company. The decorative pendant light is Italian and by Fontana Arte, from the 1950s, and was sourced from Bernd Goeckler antiques. The large dramatic painting at table is by Paul Feeley.
Laura’s quietly luxurious master bedroom has a custom bed and bedside tables by Laura Santos Interiors fabricated by Dune. The iconic wall sconces are from 1950 by French designer Jean Royère, circa 1950 from H.M. Luther. The sculptural Italian 1950s chair and ottoman are by Marco Zanuso from the Wooster Gallery. The throw at the end of the bed is a vintage Moroccan silk kilim that Santos collected on her travels. The rug was sourced from FJ Hakimian. The custom drapes are made from fabric by de Le Cuona. The painting is by Dana Schutz.
The master sitting area features a deep-rose sofa by Vladimir Kagan purchased from Ralph Pucci in mohair fabric from Rose Tarlow. The coffee table is an American design from 1968 by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne, and purchased at Donzella. The rug is from FJ Hakimian, and the custom drapes were made with fabric by de Le Cuona.
The custom desk in the office was designed by combining a luxurious stone top fabricated limestone by Wild English Stoneworks with a vintage base by Master Craft. Santos artfully paired it with a vintage 1970s Brazilian chair from R & Company.
The master bath is a study in stone. Santos carefully chose travertine with a blue hue that flows perfectly to create a water-like effect.
Santos designed the perfect minimalist vanity from custom antique brass and cerused oak with sconces by Apparatus and a small chair by Guillerme et Chambron, purchased from Morentz.
Santos’s daughter’s bedroom has an upholstered bed designed by Laura Santos Interiors and fabricated by Dune. The headboard is finished with wall sconces designed by Pierre Guariche in 1951, from Galerie Kreo. The desk is from Duc Duc and is paired with a  chair by Eames from Design Within Reach. The pendant light is by Isamu Noguchi and from The Noguchi Museum. The rug is from Woven Accents.
In her son’s room, Santos again designed a custom bed and had it fabricated by Dune. The dramatic primary color Stilnovo Style pendant is from Minimal Concept. The Italian midcentury floor lamp by Esperia was purchased at Donzella. The room is completed by a playful organic bench from ABC Carpet & Home, and the rug was sourced at Beauvais Carpets.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest