DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE
Jose Solis Betancourt creates a sleek modern aesthetic at the St. Regis Residences in Bahia Beach, a project near and dear to the Puerto Rican-native.
When interior design firm Solis Betancourt & Sherrill and SB Architects received a call from Massachusetts-based clients to create their dream vacation retreat on Puerto Rico’s Bahia Beach, the homeowners had two major requirements. The clients wanted their art collection and the magnificent views of the El Yunque National Rainforest and the Atlantic Ocean to take center stage, and they asked for a modern, minimal aesthetic that was plush and comfortable for big family gatherings.
Principal Jose Solis Betancourt of the Washington DC-based design firm Solis Betancourt & Sherrill was born in Puerto Rico and knows a thing or two about creating elegant beach homes for discerning clients. “Our goal was to coordinate a unified design that was completely inviting with a peaceful beach zen vibe,” he says. “We chose a layered monochromatic scheme that emphasizes texture and tactile fabrics. Every detail was thought out to work for group gatherings, from providing ample hidden storage for suitcases to using soft exterior carpets house-wide for easy maintenance.”
In the double-height entry foyer, large slab stepping stones surrounded by river rocks continue from the exterior entrance bridge and create texture and interest; this layout is one of many design details aimed at blurring the lines between indoors and out. From this dramatic entrance, guests are invited into an expansive living room where glass doors pocket back to allow open-air access to the sprawling terrace, infinity pool, and white sand beaches directly outside.
The entryway features paintings by Ricardo Morales Hernandez (right) and Gisela Colon (left). Sconces and a chandelier by Ochre embellish the space.
Living areas feature sofas that are upholstered in Loro Piano fabric., Bernhardt Swivel chairs, Ring coffee table by Stefan Bishop, floor lamps by Michael Dawkins Home, a Holly Hunt dining table, and Gualala table lamps by Tuell & Reynolds. The kitchen features modern white cabinets by Snaidero.
The clients made it a priority that the art collection they bought for this home would be all premier contemporary Puerto Rican and Caribbean artists. Hurricane Maria and its devastation further influenced the clients to invest in the local community of world-class artists and galleries and strengthen their commitment to supporting the island. Jose was very involved in identifying notable artists to build the collection. The interior focal point of the living room is a massive painting by renowned Puerto Rican artist Arnaldo Roche, one of his last commissions. Nearby, the minimalist work by Gisela Colon is made of optical acrylics which interact with the tropical sunlight.
Principal Paul Sherrill notes, “We love incorporating artist-made furniture in our projects. One of my favorite pieces we commissioned for this home is a sculptural coffee table by Stefan Bishop. This piece anchors the living room and is made of thick slices of organic cerused and ebonized wood which create a dramatic contrast to the pristine angularity of the interiors.”
From the entry foyer, guests ascend a floating staircase with glass rails to a gallery landing featuring Carlos Mercado’s monumental artworks. The landing leads to four guest suites with ocean balconies and two guest suites with balcony views of the rainforest, not to mention a playful bunk room that sleeps 14. The bedrooms feature glass sliding doors and glass balcony rails so that visually there is little break between indoors and out. If storm clouds gather, a movie theater that seats 24 is a perfect place for the family to come together after a day in the sun.
A guest room overlooking the ocean features artwork by Ivonne Prats and carpet by Stark.
Paul says, “We wanted to create casual comfort and barefoot elegance for this growing family. While the house has many grand open spaces that flow from one to another, we also wanted to include individual spaces so everyone could have private time for relaxation.”
The design team at Solis Betancourt & Sherrill has created a modern oasis for family living that celebrates the best of Puerto Rico’s natural beauty and contemporary art.