Urban Oasis

Designer Amanda Steiner relies on cool neutrals and a quirky mix of antiques and new furnishings to create a pretty home for her and her husband

IT may be tempting to attribute the appeal of Luca and Amanda Steiner’s home in the West Plaza to the charming neighborhood and the wash of sunlight throughout the rooms, but that’s only part of the story. Amanda’s thoughtful and calming design has made this small
home live large.

“It took one day to find this house,” remembers Amanda as she recounts a Goldilocks-like tale. The first was too new, another was a bad fit, and then this house was just right. “I knew when I walked in the front door. Within five minutes I turned to our agent and said, ‘Done!’”

Amanda had a specific wish list: old neighborhood, smaller homes, lots of charm. “I’ve always been attracted to both Craftsman and Tudor styles, so this was a perfect fit.” For Luca, too? “He never saw it,” she admits with a slight shrug and a grin.

The couple moved from Reno, Nevada, as Luca was finishing his master’s degree. Amanda and her sister, Jaclyn Joslin, had decided to open Urban Dwellings, a home furnishings shop in the River Market.

Since the Steiners were both beginning new endeavors, it was fortunate that the house didn’t need much structural work. A thoughtful renovation had left the well-preserved floors, moldings and glass doorknobs in pristine condition, but a new kitchen and bathrooms replaced the originals.

“We painted, changed the kitchen backsplash and some light fixtures, but the rest was great,” Amanda says.

This allowed her to turn her attention to the decoration, which is a personal pleasure, but also part of her job as general manager at the shop.

The inviting living room has plenty of chic and comfortable seating. A generous mirror over the fireplace reflects the flood of sunlight, and mercury-glass lamps provide just the right amount of sparkle. “Still,” she says, “everyone usually ends up in the kitchen.”

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The couple enjoys entertaining. A functional and stylish drinks tray in the dining room may be just what is luring guests closer to the action.

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“A lot of times we set up food or hors d’oeuvres on the dining room table and people gather here,” Amanda says. “If we are cooking, they like to pull a stool up to the bar.”

When it’s just the two of them, they tend to relax together in the family room. Soothing neutrals continue here with a bit more punch of pattern. Amanda chose two ottomans rather than a traditional coffee table to help the room function in more ways than one.

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“We do watch TV in here, but I also do yoga and Pilates in this room, and it is easier to move these out of the way.” The Steiners have made good use of a small closet by creating a media mecca to hold stereo equipment, CDs and books.

The guest room is on the first floor as well and also serves as Luca’s office. Using this room when he works at home means that every room in the house is put to use— nothing is superfluous.

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The master bedroom encompasses the entire second floor. “It’s such a nice surprise, isn’t it?” she says.

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A narrow staircase meant that the box springs had to be cut in half to get them up the stairs and that Amanda had to design a custom headboard.

“That’s part of the charm of an old house,” she says. Painting this room has been a recent project, “It was sort of a boring white, but we just painted it Harwick White from Farrow & Ball,” Amanda says. “We have been using their paints a lot with clients and are just thrilled.”

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A zoological chart, a find from Steve Rogers’ shop, Prize, seems fitting in this room that resembles a tree house, with branches visible just out the window. These unique touches, combined with Dwell bedding and other Urban Dwellings lines, create a youthful and sophisticated home for the couple.

“Walkability was important to us. We wanted to be able to walk to coffee or dinner. Luca is from Sweden and I studied abroad. We identify with that European lifestyle and we wanted to have that here as much as we could. Here we are able to walk down to Hi Hat for coffee or the Plaza for dinner.”

It seems to be the perfect urban dwelling.

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