An All-Black Kitchen Anchors the Interior Scheme of This Modern Farmhouse

An All-Black Kitchen Anchors the Interior Scheme of This Modern Farmhouse

Ask interior designer Monique Gibson about her work, and she’s quick to explain that she sees herself as much more than someone who decorates homes. Based in New York but with projects around the country—and a slew of celebrity clients including Meg Ryan—Gibson has perfected the art of understanding people and anticipating what her clients want, frequently before they even know themselves. With this skill, she acts as a stylistic guide, shepherding homeowners gracefully through their projects and toward spaces that pay attention to sensation as much as aesthetics.

“Most clients are aware of what they believe to be beautiful,” Gibson says, “but the same clients aren’t always as certain about how a space makes them feel. I can look around a house with lots of color and pattern and think it’s beautiful, but it’s not necessarily what I would choose if I wanted it to feel restful. If your intended use for a space is to find rest, you must know what materials, colors, and shapes evoke a restful feeling for you.”

For one of Gibson’s recent clients—a couple building a weekend house on family land in New York—the ultimate objective for the project was creating a space to relax. With two demanding careers—and three children—they were looking for a home that would encourage them to unplug and spend time together as a family, connecting over shared meals, game nights, and lazy afternoons reading.

When the clients hired Gibson, the house, designed by architect Teo Siguenza, was already under construction. A modern structure, the residence embraces the local farmhouse style through materiality—reclaimed wood is seen prominently throughout—while contemporary details in glass and blackened steel pair with simple angles and a neutral palette for a sophisticated, updated appearance. “When I first saw the house, it looked like a new glass-and-metal structure had been built around an old wooden one,” Gibson says. “That purity and simplicity of order became our guiding principles.”

According to Gibson, the client found her after searching for pictures of black kitchens online and clicking on a link to an AD story featuring the designer’s home. “What was great about this client is that she knew herself,” Gibson says. “She knew that dark spaces were very comforting to her. One of the first things she said she wanted was a black kitchen.” To keep the room from feeling too severe, Gibson layered materials, starting with darkened, tumbled, and antiqued Belgian Blue Stone tiles for the floor. From there, she built up, using a striking custom steel island (crafted locally), burnt-oak cabinets (also made locally), and black Absolute Zimbabwe stone countertops. “One of the ways to create depth and interest within a limited palette is through textures,” Gibson explains. A set of handmade bar stools by Ayala Israel and collected ceramics displayed on open shelving help break up the monochrome scheme.

The rest of the two-level home’s ground floor holds additional public zones: the living and dining rooms (both enjoy scenic views of a bend in the river that runs through the property), a spacious entryway, two powder rooms, and a cozy family den. The living room, a favorite family gathering space, has soaring double-height ceilings and large sliding glass doors that open onto a patio that overlooks the river. A 14-foot sofa by Grant Trick provides plenty of room for guests. Smaller clusters of seating offer more intimate options, including a vintage chaise—once the property of Yves Saint Laurent—a favorite place to read for the client’s husband.


The dining room is adjacent to the kitchen, sharing the same Belgian Blue Stone flooring. For seating, Gibson chose a set of carved pine ladder-back chairs by late Swedish designer Axel Einar Hjorth. A custom Atomic Lamp by Atelier Van Lieshout hangs over a dark wood table with seating for 10. In the family room—the client’s favorite space in the home—a lowered ceiling, brown plastered walls, and a custom sectional create a cozy space to relax. In here and throughout the house, scrim curtains made from flax linen handwoven by Sam Kasten and fabricated by J.Edlin Interiors add soft texture and diffuse light. “This room is so tactile,” Gibson says, “you want to walk through and touch everything.”

While the wife’s preferences drove much of the project, her husband is responsible for one of the most unique details in the home. “We were standing in the living room,” Gibson recalls, “and he looked up and said, ‘This is so much wasted space, couldn’t we build a catwalk with a bookcase where I can go up and read?’” A set of glass-and-steel stairs leads up to the resulting catwalk and the rest of the second floor, where bedrooms and offices allow the family space for alone time and, occasionally, work. The primary suite is both sumptuous and minimal, with gray textiles, a custom shou sugi ban headboard by Gustavo Neves, and a vintage Teli Pendant by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos. The wife’s bathroom is all black, with an eye-catching leathered Avocatus Stone appearing like green moss on the vanity wall. “When she first saw the stone, she said, ‘I don’t care how you use it, I have to have as much of it as you can get,’” Gibson says. A pair of wood chairs by Francis Jourdain, from 1924, round out the room.

This sense of pairing—contemporary and vintage, high-end designer and anonymous craftsperson, brightness and shadow—encapsulates the overall spirit of the project poetically, down to the input from the clients. As Gibson notes, “Both of them have their fingerprints clearly on this project.”

The 14-foot-long Grant Trick sofa is custom-upholstered in de Le Cuona mélange wool bouclé and complemented by a flat-weave wool Persian rug underfoot. A midcentury oak side chair sits at either end of the coffee table, and a euphorbia tree in the corner picks up the green tones in the landscape outside. An antique Japanese wood chest was purchased after artist Rogan Gregory, commissioned to make a light sculpture for the stairs, said the project reminded him of a Japanese farmhouse. “We loved that reference,” Gibson says, noting that it also inspired the addition of the Sori Yanagi Elephant Stools by Kotobuki

A small cluster of seating in one corner of the living room includes the Hub table by Christophe Delacourt for Collection Particulaire and a pair of teak-and-green-cowhide armchairs by Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret—a favorite designer of the client. Two pieces of hand-thrown midcentury pottery, found at Freeforms, sit on the table when game nights aren’t in session.

Gibson notes that, in addition to her client’s request for dark rooms, she wanted to include moments of terra-cotta in the house, so the designer used the shade to plaster the walls in a powder room. The vintage ceramic mirror is a Marcel Asselbur original.

The family room, with a custom Grant Trick sectional, provides a relaxing in-home escape. A set of two tables with Pierre de Lens Stone and a tropical hardwood base are by Benoit Viaene and a collection of contemporary ceramics layers in additional texture. A set of Regent lounge chairs, designed by Marco Zanuso for Arflex Italy, dates to 1960. Curtains—made from flax linen handwoven by Sam Kasten and fabricated by J.Edlin Interiors—appear throughout the house.

In the dining area of this Pound Ridge Home, warm wood—the reclaimed boards used for the ceiling, the set of vintage Axel Einar Hjorth dining chairs, purchased through Hostler Burrows, and a Copiaco Table Lamp by Stephen Downes—help balance the dark palette, anchored by Belgian Blue Stone floor tiles. The Atomic Lamp by Atelier Van Lieshout adds an industrial twist to the dining table.

One of the client’s first requests for Gibson was an all-black kitchen. The designer used a mix of materials—including darkened Belgian Blue Stone floor tiles, steel, burnt oak, and black Absolute Zimbabwe stone—to create depth in the room. “There are little bits of mica in the black [wall] plaster,” Gibson notes. She had Israeli designer Ayala Serfaty create the felted wool barstools.

Another powder room inside the room.

Also in the entryway is a Sume table by Brazilian designer Gustavo Neves, who designed the headboard in the primary bedroom. “That burnt-wood table inspired the kitchen cabinets,” Gibson says. “Gustavo pours molten bronze onto the wood, so it burns out these valleys and rivers. I think this table captures so much of the spirit of the house.”

Hanging from one of the living room rafters is a custom illuminated sculpture, Fertility Form, designed by New York artist Rogan Gregory. “Rogan was one of the first artists we commissioned,” Gibson says. “It’s important to me to include handmade work in every project.”

Taking pride of place on the mezzanine—the client’s husband suggested its inclusion after construction had already begun— is a library table with integrated metal light, designed by Pierre Jeanneret in 1963. The teak-and-leather chair, also by Jeanneret, dates to 1961

The shelving at one end of the mezzanine was meant to hold books but ended up being the perfect spot for a prodigious collection of bronze pieces by the late Danish decorative sculptor and silversmith Just Andersen. The vintage Bruno armchair by Mats Theselius is one of the client’s husband’s favorite spots to read.

The upstairs hallway is minimal, with a sculpture by Yongjin Han, purchased through Maison Gerard, and a set of iron candlesticks found at Balsamo Antiques in New York. A Pragh Chair and ottoman by Madsen and Schubell peek out of the room at the end of the hall.

In the client’s office, a custom Ferro Lantern by Cox London brings a brutalist flair to an otherwise subdued aesthetic. A vintage Chinese silk rug and 18th-century Portuguese side table play nice with a contemporary Holly Hunt Tee Back armchair.

A custom shou sugi ban headboard by Gustavo Neves crowns the bed in the primary suite. The room includes layers of linen, a cashmere-and-mohair Cloud Nine rug from Beauvais Carpets, and a vintage Teli Pendant by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos. A custom set of Iron Fire Tools by Iron Meagan Metalworks hangs next to the hearth.

Like the kitchen, the primary bathroom is mainly black, except for the leathered Avocatus stone wall behind the vanity. An antique kilim runner from Doris Leslie Blau picks up the green tones in the wall stone, and a wood chair by Francis Jourdain pairs with a Charlotte Perriand stool to break up the dark scheme. Gibson used the same black plaster in this room as in the kitchen.



Originally published in Architectural Digest
Text by Rachel Gallaher
Photography by William Abranowicz


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