Friday, October 30, 2009


This past spring, Zoë Design was hired to transform the entry hall of a large (23,000 sq. ft.) house in Weston, MA. Our client wanted the feel of a 16th century palazzo. After several meetings, armed with stacks of books, we chose reference from many sources but the bulk of the landscapes & drapery came from the Villa Di Vicobello and, of course, the angels and putti are Tiepelo.

The project was daunting as the entryway was quite imposing with its double curving staircase and rotunda-style center with a staggering crystal chandelier. There was a soaring geometric dome that ended in a cupola far above the ground floor. It was decided to leave the ground floor walls white (the client has a fondness for white) and to focus on the second level. There were four large curved walls, which needed grand vistas. Thus, the Italianate landscapes with classical ruins. We softened the edges of each wall with painted drapery in whites and creams, embellished with tassels and yellow-gold roping. A personal touch was added by placing something in each
scene (a musical instrument, etc.) to allude to each of the client's four children. The kids really liked having a piece of themselves in the mural.

The dome was difficult in that it was geometric (sharp angles) and felt modern. We decided that a soft blue sky with clouds would help disguise the edges and draw one's eye upward. Borrowing
from Tiepolo, we painted some rather magnificent angels and putti amongst the clouds. The idea to paint the woodwork came part way
through the project. We felt that the white was still overwhelming so it was decided to bring a brushed gold feel into the woodwork. The change was amazing. The landscapes leapt to life and were "framed" by a soft gold. The same idea was carried around the edges of the dome to tie in visually to the walls.

The project was an enormous undertaking, requiring the building of a "floor" across the top of the upstairs banister in order to set up the scaffolding needed to reach the dome and the top of the cupola. This "floor" alone was an accomplishment but thanks tothe builder, Bob Morini of Remco & Co., it happened like clockwork. Luckily, the client was willing to do it right and gave us the leeway to spend the hours needed to create a finished, polished mural. It's a nice feeling to walk away from something that you feel proud of having helped create.