This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of ELLE DECOR. For more stories from our archive, subscribe to ELLE DECOR All Access.
A reputation as a wunderkind antiques dealer has its advantages for an interior designer—especially one in a country with as rich and colorful a history as Spain. Madrid’s Lorenzo Castillo deftly layers centuries, cultures, and periods with a confidence few can match. Recent projects include homes in Barcelona, London, and the Caribbean, and hotels and restaurants in New York and Venice. He just completed his first collection for the Rug Company, and he designs fabrics for Gastón y Daniela that reflect his stylish view of history.
In fact, it was his antiquarian’s eye that landed Castillo the job of creating a spectacular 5,000-square-foot duplex in one of Madrid’s most emblematic Art Deco apartment buildings. The homeowner, a member of Spain’s media elite, had lived nearby for years and one day noticed a for-sale sign in the window. Located at the junction of several trendy neighborhoods—Chueca, Salesas, and Malasaña—the building is close to the action, but not unpleasantly so.
Calling about the apartment, he discovered the seller also had another available, one flight up. Though positioned on separate flanks of the building, the upstairs apartment luckily had a single room overlapping the apartment below, so that a stairway could be added to unite the two levels. Luckier still, the upper apartment featured several terraces, including one with a templelike oval pavilion that offers high-style shelter from the summer sun and sweeping views of the red-tile roofs, church spires, and modern skyscrapers of Madrid.
“There are surprisingly few Art Deco residential buildings in Madrid, and many of the original details here were intact,” Castillo says. “It just made sense to take the apartment house, which was built in 1931, back to that era—in an updated way.”
That was all the owner—who describes his last two homes as “white cubes” because their interiors had been previously gutted—needed to hear. “Here were the original herringbone parquet floors, all the doors and period hardware, even the original stained glass windows in the entry. So I chose Lorenzo because he really shared my view that it would have been a crime to throw all that out.”
The work took a year, and while the layout was sometimes radically altered, all those period details were reworked into the final composition. “We wanted easy flow for entertaining and to provide the perfect showcase for the owner’s collections of books, art, music, and, of course, his friends,” Castillo explains.
Thus, he created a library to serve as the heart of the house and made it large enough to accommodate the dining table as well as a salonlike seating area. To underscore the room’s importance, the designer lacquered it a rich sang de boeuf red and mirrored the entrance wall, enhancing the room’s already significant scale and heightening its luxuriously appointed spirit of intellectual curiosity, be it for a concert or a conversation.
As might be expected, the library and adjacent kitchen are the home’s high-traffic areas. While the owner’s weeknight dinners are typically restaurant affairs with Madrid’s movers and shakers, he loves to have weekend meals at home, preparing for friends favorite recipes from his mother’s repertoire. So despite its pristine look—with all the appliances and gadgets artfully concealed—the kitchen gets a regular workout. Fortunately, the nearly 20-foot-long island provides plenty of room for guests to pitch in or just drink some wine while watching the chef.
The rest of the apartment has a more subdued palette, with shades of ivory, gold, and touches of black. The living room, with its four balconies overlooking the street, was originally four small reception rooms. A sexy curving staircase leads to the primary bedroom, media room, and the terraces above.
Castillo carefully sourced or created all of the furniture and light fixtures, at times “inventing” Art Deco pieces inspired by the building’s decorative details. The owner appreciates that link to the past in establishing a sense of authenticity. “You might not catch it right away,” he says, “but there are so many subtle aspects of Lorenzo’s designs here that trace their lineage back to this building.”
One such invention is the primary bath, with acres of marble, mirror, and glass that looks as if it came from some fabulous Edwardian men’s club. Castillo describes it merely as “a triumph of engineering and scheduling,” as each element—from the massive marble slabs to the fillets of steel surrounding them—was finished and mounted by hand on-site, requiring a choreographed chain of craftsmen arriving at precisely the moment their work was needed.
The owner recognizes the magic Castillo has wrought: “I use every room of this house every day, and I love it.” Is there any greater luxury than enjoying one’s own home to the fullest?
This story originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of ELLE DECOR.