For centuries in aristocratic circles, music rooms were essential in large estates, part of a suite of specialized spaces dedicated to leisurely pursuits like billiards, dancing, even smoking. A dynamic musical life was a cultural imperative. People gathered to play–or simply to applaud those who did–in surroundings that often took their decorative cues from the great concert halls of the world.
These days dedicated music rooms are rare, according to Frank de Biasi, a New York-based interior designer whose residential portfolio includes projects in Europe, America and the Middle East. Instruments are often integrated into studies or media rooms or treated as objets d’art that are elevated to statement pieces in living rooms, dining rooms and dens.
In residences where homeowners do carve out prime footage, the 21st century rebooted music room is about versatility as an entertainment and performance space. Rooms are being designed to accommodate multiple layouts. It could be an intimate cocktail party for 10 around the piano one night and a VIP guest performance for 100 the next with different configurations of chairs, sofas and banquettes to match the social event. De Biasi designed a music room that’s part fantasy, part lounge for a Palm Beach, Fla., client. Upholstered walls and dark stained finishes give it a nightclub feel. “When you walk in the room you just want a drink in your hand,” de Biasi says.
Music is the legacy of a Corte Madera estate located about 10 miles north of San Francisco. The property, co-listed by Isobel Wiener and Danielle Chavanon of Sotheby’s International Realty in San Francisco, was once owned by legendary concert promoter Bill Graham. A subsequent owner hired architect Sim Van der Ryn to design a new residence on the 11-acre compound, one that’s come to be known as the Guitar House for the way a long corridor, reminiscent of the neck of a guitar, leads to a music room shaped like the instrument’s body. “The spirit of Bill Graham lives on,” says Wiener.
Adds Chavanon: “It’s memorable. The way the passion for music is expressed in the property absolutely gives it another dimension.”
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