Months into collective efforts to flatten the curve, those of us lucky enough to be working remotely may be feeling overly familiar with our own homes, rooms once traveled through quite casually on our way to somewhere else and that must now function as our entire world. Inevitably, they fall short, and we start to imagine ourselves — worry-free — in different, better versions. Zoom calls and Instagram Live clips taunt us with small slivers of alternatives — intimacy has, in so many ways, been curtailed, and yet we’re getting glimpses into spaces we’ve never seen before. Perhaps you, too, have been distracted by the poster, stack of books or unusually colored wall behind the person on the other end of the platform and wondered about what is just out of view and what it might reveal about its owner’s true essence.
To satisfy that voyeuristic impulse, we recommend browsing some of the most eclectic homes featured in T. These are spaces imbued not simply with good taste (which over time can become stale) but a point of view, and therefore really do seem like worlds unto themselves. Take the immaculately preserved Corona, Queens, abode of the musician Louis Armstrong (with its mirrored bathroom and space-age-inspired kitchen), a surrealist house in Portland with LED lights lining the staircase or an erotic film studio turned California dream house. Each one is its own sort of sanctuary, and a virtual tour or two is sure to get you, however briefly, out of your house and head.
In 2005, the creative director Simon Lince and the artist Cary Leibowitz (who sometimes works under the memorable sobriquet Candy Ass) purchased a farmhouse in Ghent, in upstate New York. Its main purpose was to act as a weekend retreat (Leibowitz owns a no less distinctive townhouse in Harlem), but it’s also an effective warehouse for their sprawling collection of antiques and art objects — including a marquee of aluminum letters spelling out “Linceowitz,” a combination of their two names, below which, in 2016, the couple married.
Nearly 50 years after Louis Armstrong’s death, his Corona, Queens, home — now the site of the Louis Armstrong House Museum — remains remarkably well preserved, right down to the half-full bottle of Jack Daniel’s that remains in his liquor cabinet. As a result, it’s not only a stunning tribute to the musician (housing an archive of his books and his array of trumpets) but also to the influence of midcentury design.
After purchasing three contiguous apartments on the 14th floor of a prewar Greenwich Village apartment building, the designer Isaac Mizrahi set about connecting them, creating a roomy, art-filled nest where he can, he says, “adjust knickknacks” and “watch ‘Jeopardy!’ on DVR” — his favorite pastime. The views of Lower Manhattan are pretty nice, too.
Home and work blend seamlessly together within the lighting designer and sculptor Adam Wallacavage’s Philadelphia brownstone: The same year that he purchased the three-story house, in 2000, he made his first octopus chandelier, on a whim, for his Jules Verne-themed living room. The piece — and subsequent iterations of it, many of which adorn other rooms in the house — quickly became a signature of his practice. Throughout, taxidermy and Art Nouveau details abound, but the sea remains a preoccupation: As Wallacavage says, “You never know what could wash up.”
In a tidy, polite neighborhood in Portland, Ore., the home of the comedian and philanthropist Allie Furlotti and the multimedia artist Adam Kostiv is, Nick Marino writes, “a Trojan horse of subversive design.” From the exterior, it’s unobtrusive; inside, though, it’s lined with unexpected materials (labradorite — “Carrara marble gone goth” — and vinyl) and dotted with surrealist details, a result of a thoughtful, offbeat redesign by Andee Hess of Osmose Design.
The furniture designer Guillermo Santomà’s Casa Horta in Barcelona is another house that plays tricks on the visitor: What at first appears to be a modest single-story home actually comprises three stories, with rooms that seem to melt into one another thanks to shared color schemes, holes in walls and grated floors that light shines through. The bones of the house date back to the early 1900s, but after purchasing it roughly six years ago, Santomà and a small crew started remodeling, which, for the most part, meant tearing down existing walls and creating space. In a way, the result is an extension of his design practice: “That it grows, that it connects, that it gets mixed up,” he says, “you don’t quite know where one thing ends and another begins.”
middle of the 20th century, the furniture designer George Nakashima developed a parcel of land in eastern Pennsylvania into an 8.8-acre compound that housed his design studio and his family — including his daughter, Mira, and son, Kevin, both of whom still live in the homes their father created. These days, the structures stand as a monument to Nakashima’s legacy and to the folk-art principles he upheld: utilitarian, deeply personal and beautiful.
You don’t even have to step through the front door to be charmed by the creative director Richard Christiansen’s aptly named Flamingo Estate (the exterior of the Los Angeles house is painted a soft pink). Christiansen himself made an offer on the home before ever setting foot inside. It was only afterward that he began to uncover its unexpected history as the headquarters of an erotic film studio.
The architect Sou Fujimoto spent the six years following his graduation from the University of Tokyo doing, well, nothing. During that period, Nikil Saval writes, he honed “his idea of what architecture ought to be.” And it proved fruitful: He has since gone on to render that idea — interrogating sets of oppositions like city and nature, inside and outside, isolation and exposure — in a series of clever, conceptual buildings and residences. The architect’s work, in Tokyo and beyond, stands out for its “perfect fusion of conceptual daring and architectural function.”