Lucas Interior Embraces Color to Modernize

The work of Lucas Interior, a Seattle-based studio helmed by siblings Suzie and David Lucas, has been characterized by serene hues and sweeping yet spare architectural lines. If there is ever a sense of drama, it’s typically achieved purely through volume and geometry. But that’s not how the Lucases approached their latest project, a Spanish Mission Revival home in Palm Springs that packs a colorful punch. “Our clients told us to go crazy and that’s just what we did,” says Suzie Lucas, half-jokingly. “We even had to dial it back at one point.”

The clients, real estate developer Jim John and his husband, Craig Hartzman, an art collector and philanthropist, already owned two homes in the Pacific Northwest that were rather sober and minimalist. At their new California retreat, they wanted to embrace the artistic and carefree ethos of Palm Springs, exploring color, pattern, and the art of mismatching.

“My husband wanted to preserve the old Spanish style of the house, but I grew up in Santa Barbara surrounded by terra-cotta and I really needed something different from that,” quips Hartzman. “Eventually, we said, ‘Let’s make it Spanish but on steroids.’”

Together with Suzie and David Lucas, who had designed their other homes, John and Hartzman decided to take certain classic elements of Mission Revival interiors—things like hand-painted tiles and wooden beams—and emphasize them in modern ways, as if reinterpreted through the lens of a pop artist.

After completing a top-to-bottom renovation of the low-slung, red tile-roofed property—which was originally built—the designers began sourcing an array of patterned tiles from Mexico and Morocco. Some have bright yellow details, others have different shades of blue, and still, others are simply black-and-white. Along with a series of checkerboard tiles laid throughout common areas of the five-bedroom property, these floor and wall tiles are the foundation of the home’s youthful, buoyant atmosphere.

“The materials and colors took center stage,” says David Lucas, referring not just to the salmagundi of tiles but also to the polished wooden beams and iron-framed glass doors added during construction. “We were not really focused on particular pieces of furniture or artworks.”

That’s not to say that the home’s decorative objects were an afterthought. David and Suzie Lucas commissioned most of the furniture from trusted makers in the Pacific Northwest, pairing bespoke items with a few favorites from Design Within Reach and Holly Hunt. In the main living room, for example, they placed an oversized circular sofa upholstered in a luminous ochre velvet, balancing its strength with two electric blue side tables from Christophe Delcourt and a cobalt “Pelican” chair by Finn Juhl.

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