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Rio On The Hudson: Brazilian Inspiration In New York City

Cristiana Mascarenhas infuses an Upper West Side aerie with the rhythm of Brazil.

Rio on the Hudson

In a nod to Brazil, natural wood is used in various forms throughout the home, adding a connection to nature and the impression of movement. Vintage, cane-backed chairs, organically shaped side tables, and a custom sofa weave a serene yet cheerful tableau.

A mere reference to Brazil often evokes a vivid, sensorial panorama brimming with swaying palm trees, tropical beaches, soft winds and open air, ambient spaces, and, of course, samba. So, when a Brazilian client approached fellow countrywoman Cristiana Mascarenhas of In Plus to renovate his Upper West Side apartment to reflect the effervescent city of Rio de Janeiro, she knew exactly how to instill an undercurrent of Brazil into the space.

Rio on the Hudson

A walk-in shower—enveloped by glass walls that allow for picturesque views of the park—elicits the feeling of showering in nature.

The key, she found, was to create an open and airy space with fully integrated systems and natural materials, that makes the most of the unfiltered sunlight. To do so, Mascarenhas first opened up the floor plan between the living room and bedroom, creating a relaxed flow and a fresh sense of expansiveness. “When you have a small apartment,” explains the designer and architect, “establishing unity through materiality makes the space look bigger.” To that end, Mascarenhas outfitted the apartment in oak millwork, forming an easy elegance echoed in the bedrooms’ horizontal wood slats and the flooring throughout. Nearby, a closet was eliminated to add square footage to the bathroom—to keep to the breezy theme, walls came down in favor of a glass structure.

Rio on the Hudson

In the breakfast room, a unique pendant light sits over the dining table’s striking green- onyx top. “It was a serendipitous find. Not only was it perfectly suited for the base, but it was the last available slab at the marble yard,” exclaims Mascarenhas.

Likewise, to avoid impeding the living room’s usable area, the entrance hall was shaved down to allow for a bigger kitchen. “When custom is an option, every inch of a space is used in the right way,” explains Mascarenhas. With that in mind, the designer incorporated custom and vintage furniture—almost all from Brazil—and tapped Ornare to create a highly individualized kitchen using the Brazilian brand’s Bétula line of cabinetry, with its built-in handles, black details, and minimalist appeal. “I love working with Ornare,” says the designer. “I have used them in Brazil, in Miami, and now here in New York—the product is exquisite, and they are committed to working towards a more sustainable world.”

Rio on the Hudson

The bedroom’s symmetrical wood slat surround imparts a contemporary vibe. Above left: With the kitchen’s expanded footprint, Mascarenhas was able to hide a washer and dryer behind a sliding door. Cabinetry by Ornare. Range by Viking, through Middleby Residential. Above right: The bathroom’s underlit cabinetry and rectangular LED ceiling light highlight the gorgeous grain of the wood.

Understated personality defines the home. An avid art aficionado, the client’s artwork—all imported from Brazil—was deftly allocated, resulting in some fun surprises. In the breakfast room, equestrian and dog- themed artwork climbs up one wall. An artful pendant light sits over the dining table’s striking green-onyx top—which shimmers with speckles of yellow that echo the wood tones layered throughout. A gold palm frond sculpture in the living room adds to the home’s lighthearted yet elevated vibe. With views of Central Park trees and blooms lining one entire wall, the entire space sways to a Brazilian beat.