In This Home, Everything is Art
A less-is-more, inside-outside Polo Club masterpiece
To commemorate their wedding day, Sabine Taal and Marcel van den Berg opted to skip the usual gift registry and instead asked friends and family to contribute to the purchase of a piece of artwork that, according to Taal, “would always bring us back to that day.” Sixteen years and three children later, the resulting painting by Dutch artist Jan van Lokhorst enjoys a prominent place in the entry of their Polo Club home, where it hangs above an amorphous lounge chair reminiscent of a giant boulder. The unlikely pairing signals both Taal’s unabashed love of color and her unconventional approach to design.
Espousing a less-is-more philosophy and not afraid to break the rules, the native of the Netherlands claims to buy furniture like she would art.
“There’s very little new here because we buy things that stay with us forever, and I don’t worry about things matching,” says Taal, who claims years of working in advertising nurtured her design sense. “I think every piece should speak for itself, and I don’t overload things.”
Evidence of that approach abounds. In the living room, an acrylic Bubble swing sharing space with a chair carved from a tree trunk makes a spare statement, while in the kitchen an ultrathin light fixture and sleek white cabinets are the stars. Meanwhile, in the family room, a curvaceous purple sectional—“as beautiful from the back as it is from the front,” she says—expresses the very idea of movement. “It’s not just some three-seater couch; it’s a fun concept piece that makes me feel happy,” Taal adds about one of her few recent acquisitions.
But before there were furnishings and white walls awaiting artwork, there was a suburban Colonial riddled with asbestos. The job of crafting a larger modern home to take its place fell to Scott Parker and Scott Hamman of Nest Architectural Design. In a respectful nod to the historic neighborhood, they chose painted brick and cedar siding for the exterior before tackling the owners’ requests for lots of natural light and an easy indoor-outdoor flow, the latter in keeping with their family-oriented lifestyle. About the fenestration package that answered both concerns, Parker says, “Every major room has windows on opposing sides, and these slide open to some part of the yard.”
Siting the 8,000-square-foot residence smack in the middle of the lot (in the same spot occupied by its predecessor) helped reinforce the home’s relationship with its surroundings, including the mature evergreens that ring the property. A new swimming pool, site of ongoing summer parties, was a natural addition, and the remainder of the landscape was crafted to establish a dialogue between every room and the outdoors. The dining room relates to the colorful perennial garden, for example, while the calmer verdant collection of low boxwoods and hedges visible from the living room inspires a feeling of calm.
“If you look through every window, the lines of the house are reflected in the yard, which is exactly the kind of indoor-outdoor relationship we wanted,” Taal says. “The house works beautifully on every level for our family, but it also blends with this treasured Denver neighborhood.”
Architects Scott Parker and Scott Hamman designed a steel pergola with wood slats to shade the courtyard living area, which serves as a transition zone between the house and the pool. Seating beneath the overhang is from RH.
The homeowner first spied what would become her dining room chairs in a bank office in Europe and knew the floral Philippe Stark design would be perfect for her growing family. A pair of Artemide fixtures come together to shed light on the Sarah Trenité for Arp Design table, and the drapes are from The Shade Store.
The crisp concrete kitchen countertop poured by Concrete Revolution serves as a foil for the wood slab/bar crafted from a tree taken down during the home’s construction phase. The curling form of the metal barstools by Stillnovo for Wayfair provides a break from the strict lines of the cabinets. Patricia Urquiola designed the B&B Italia sofa that all but fills the family room. Homeowner Sabine Taal selected the bright-purple seating not because it matched anything else but because she saw it as an art piece that could stand on its own. In keeping with her less-is-more philosophy, the only other piece in the room is a coffee table purchased years ago.
The hallway stretches the full length of the house and serves as its organizing feature, providing access to all the main-floor living spaces as well as the glass-enclosed switchback staircase that leads to the private quarters. A Rex Ray painting hangs opposite the stair, the floor lantern is from Anthropologie, and at the opposite end a metal spiral stair connects to the guest suite.
Come summer, the guest area doubles as a pool house, and furnishings such as the red-stitched chairs by Dutch furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld complement the casual tone. The desk was fashioned from a woodblock, and the desk chair and rug are from Ikea.
A photograph by the homeowner's photojournalist father, Rudd Taal, hangs above a basket in the master bedroom. Similar to every major space in the house, this one features a virtuoso piece, in this case an antique iron child's bed. All three of the owners' children slept in it before it became a sofa.
On the living room’s concrete patio, a trio of CB2 wood chairs topped with black-and-white patterned pillows from Ikea makes a graphic statement that creates a welcome contrast to the profusion of greenery beyond. The table is from the homeowner’s collection, and the rug is Ikea.
Another outdoor scenario enhanced by an all-plastic Design Within Reach chair that lights from within, CB2 picnic table and bench, and a Buddha purchased on a trip to India.
ARCHITECTURE Scott Parker, AIA and Scott Hamman, AIA, Nest Architectural Design, Inc. INTERIOR DESIGN Sabine Taal BUILDER Boa Construction, Inc. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Karin Eweg LIVING ROOM FURNITURE MATCHING BOOKCASES Designed by homeowner Sabine Taal CARVED WOOD CHAIR Thrift store find BUBBLE SWING by Finnish Designer Eero Aarnio RUG by Spanish designer José Antonio Gandía-Blasco