The first time fashion designer Paula Cahen D’Anvers saw what would one day become her summer home, it was completely in ruins. The property had no roof and would have to be almost entirely rebuilt, but she was sold on the location—situated in Punta del Este (“the Hamptons of Uruguay,” says D’Anvers), she saw its potential as a countryside-meets-seaside retreat. “It’s difficult to explain if you don’t know the place,” she says of that initial impression. “I spent all my summers since childhood in Uruguay; the rural houses have a very rustic atmosphere. It’s something special.” Twenty years later, she’s spent almost every December-through-February season in it. If there were ever visual proof of the benefits of not judging a book by its cover (or in this case, complete lack thereof), this place would be it.
The sprawling estate is full of D’Anvers’s personal touches. Renovations took two years; every picture frame and antique chair was carefully considered. “The house had to carry the idea that it had been there for years and years,” she explains. Her favorite purchase is a set of maiolica Pas De Calais tiles she stumbled upon in a local antiques shop years ago—they’re more than 120 years old and adorn the living room fireplace.
But when it comes to making a statement, the clear standout isn’t an item at all: It’s a color. “I’ve always loved Yves Klein Blue, and it seemed like a good idea to mix it with the intense green of the garden and the background of the Atlantic Ocean,” says D’Anvers. “It was a designer’s intuition.” She coated every single room in the striking hue—without testing other swatches—including the exterior, which has naturally worn down from weather exposure to a pretty cornflower shade.
Her trick? It’s all a balancing act: Every picture frame is a monochromatic black and white; the textiles show off a wide range of blue tones; and the kitchen and bathroom feature only a strip of the color near the ceiling. With neutral wood furniture at the forefront, each room feels calming, despite the splashy walls.
“I’ve always loved Yves Klein Blue—it was a designer’s intuition.”
Most days you’ll find D’Anvers outside. Since planting her garden more than two decades ago, all sorts of greenery has popped up, including hydrangeas, agapanthus, laurels, wisteria, jasmine vines, and magnolia trees. For the designer, the backyard has become an escape within an escape—it’s where she spends her days reading and painting and her nights eating candlelit alfresco dinners. “It’s a pleasure for my eyes,” she says.
Introducing Domino’s new podcast, Design Time, where we explore spaces with meaning. Each week, join editor-in-chief Jessica Romm Perez along with talented creatives and designers from our community to explore how to create a home that tells your story. Listen now and subscribe for new episodes every Thursday.