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Artisanal Architecture: 6 Homes with Murals & Mosaics

From Moorish mosaics and Renaissance frescoes to contemporary murals, Luxury Defined tours six homes with exquisite artisanal touches

The mosaic walls of ancient Romans, with their images of daily life, of gods, beasts, men, and monsters, connect us with those people as if they were alive today. So do the frescoed walls and ceilings of the Renaissance, with scenes of the holy and the pastoral. The cool abstractions of zellige mosaics invoke the eternal human yearning for order, pattern, symmetry, and design. In this Luxury Defined property showcase, we tour seven resplendent residences which bring the fresco, the mural, and the mosaic into the contemporary living space. Art, timeless and immovable, waits on the walls and ceilings of these magnificent homes.

Seafield House in Donabate, County Dublin, Ireland

Ireland has a rich history of magnificent country houses, yet few are located as conveniently as Seafield House (just nine miles from Dublin city center). The 18th-century Palladian manor is surrounded by 80 acres of forest, parklands, and formal gardens with views across the estuary to Malahide and the Dublin Mountains beyond. The Grade I-listed manor house is thought to be the creation of Classical Irish architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, whose works include the Irish Houses of Parliament. The main villa, with its stately, three-story Georgian facade, was built in 1730. The west wing, notable for its striking Italianate tower, was added in 1857, as was the coach house and stable yard with its clock tower. In 1996, Seafield underwent an extensive restoration and contemporary upgrade. The Georgian core has an elegant, yet comfortable formality. This extends from the great hall, with paintings from the school of William van der Hagen, to the two principal reception rooms, and the dining room with its original Adam fireplace. Wood panelling and ornate plasterwork adorn the main floor and the principal bedrooms upstairs. There are eight bedrooms in all, including a rambling set of suites on the very top floor, which generations of children made their own. The kitchen is the heart of the Victorian wing, which also includes a scullery, study, and a staircase to the Italianate tower. The lower ground floor is dedicated to the wine cellar, laundry room, and a large den. To the front and rear of Seafield House are beautiful formal gardens. The wider grounds include a gate lodge and courtyard apartment. The land to the rear is in tillage, with some 15 acres of forest, which further the sense of privacy and seclusion.

This stately residence, infused with golden light, occupies the first floor of a 14th-century palazzo on Venice’s Grand Canal. Originally built in the Gothic style with Renaissance additions, the building has retained its ornate period details inside and out. The museum-quality interiors feature several murals and frescoes by Italian Old Masters Giovanni Scajario, Jacopo Guarana, Francesco Zugno, and Giustino Menescardi. The pièces de résistance is the double-height hall with a series of frescoes narrating the story of Dido and Aeneas, painted between 1760 and 1764 by Baroque artist Giustino Menescardi. The palazzo is laid out over three floors and offers 4,627 square feet of lavish living space with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. The double-height hall is adorned with beautiful plasterwork and ceiling frescoes. It opens to two reception rooms and the main suite, with its ornate plasterwork ceiling and brocaded walls, and a balcony with a showstopping view of the Grand Canal. Farther along is a formal dining room and a refitted modern kitchen. The residence has an unrivaled setting in the sestiere of Cannaregio, one of Venice’s six historic districts, steps from Venezia Santa Lucia railway station.

Neoclassical Mansion in Athens, Greece

This glamorous 1920s villa in Palaio Psychiko, Athens’ most prestigious suburb, exudes Old World elegance. The sumptuous 11,098-square-foot home abounds with exquisite details, such as hand-carved oak panelling from the Château de Chantilly in France and oak doors graced with Louis XVI-style gilding. The reception rooms were designed for entertaining on a grand scale. The entrance hall impresses with its geometric patterned marble floor, gilt panelled walls and moldings, and frescoed ceiling. The banquet room can seat up to 60. There are also a formal dining room and a fully equipped kitchen with a breakfast room. The study is embellished with carved, wood-panelled walls and a patterned marble floor. The main floor opens to a rear terrace with a carved marble balustrade designed in 1893 for the French Embassy in Athens. Beyond are tree-lined gardens and a 62-foot swimming pool with a columned sun terrace and a pool house, currently an artist’s studio. The carved oak staircase in the entrance hall is another splendid detail. Five bedrooms upstairs include the main suite, with its ornate ceiling, gilt-panelled walls, and French doors opening to a private balcony. An elevator and service staircase provide access to the lower-level staff quarters and five-car garage.

This elegant four-bedroom residence occupies the first floor of a grand Pombaline-style building in Lisbon’s historic Chiado neighborhood. The home was sensitively restored and updated for the 21st century, yet the 19th-century details remain beautifully intact. Of particular note are the original mural in the entrance hall and the frescoed ceiling and wall paintings in the drawing room. Floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors flood each room with sunlight and bring in the views of the rooftops and the Tagus River. A palette of bright white and neutral accents contrasts with the dark wood floors. The dining room opens to a sleek contemporary kitchen; both rooms have access to a south-facing balcony with a front-row view of the Tagus. The main suite also has a river-facing balcony. Three additional bedrooms, three bathrooms, an intimate living room, and an office round out the appointments. The Chiado is a charming, sought-after neighborhood in the historic heart of the city. Dubbed the Montmarte of Lisbon, it is renowned for its elegant squares and narrow cobblestone streets lined with art galleries, fashionable boutiques, and fine restaurants.

Finca in Mendoza, Argentina

This rambling hacienda overlooks the Andes Mountains from its 15-acre setting in the Mendoza wine region, the heart of Argentina’s Malbec country. Terra cotta tiles roof the 11,840-square-foot main house, oriented for its vistas of the gardens and snowy peaks of Cordón del Plata. Finished in a warm, earth-toned palette, the expansive interiors offer woodwork in pine hemlock, plank flooring, polished porcelain floors, and calcareous floor tiles. The main floor is appointed with a chef’s kitchen and a dining room with a mural painted by Mendoza artist Sergio Rogerone. The accommodations comprise a primary suite, four en suite bedrooms, and two studios, each with a private terrace. The amenities include a wine cellar with barrel storage, a swimming pool, a horse barn with four loose boxes, a saddle room, workshop, and storage barn. A thatched adobe house provides guest and staff quarters. The Malbec vineyard yields 300 to 400 bottles a year. The orchard’s fruit and nut trees include quince, almond, cherry, apricot, apple, plum, peach, kaki, chestnut, fig, walnut and hazelnut. There is an olive grove and olive oil production facility, and a pine forest provides mushrooms. A lagoon serves as water storage for irrigation.

Shining Hand Ranch in Ashland, Oregon

Shining Hand Ranch is a 700-acre ranch built to honor the diverse topography of its majestic setting in the foothills of Oregon’s Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges. Completed in 2016, the 8,880-square-foot residence was handcrafted with accents of exotic wood and river rock to echo the organic flow of nature. At the entrance, copper tree sculptures by local artist Russell Beebe flank the Brazilian mahogany front doors. Visitors cross the home’s threshold on a granite floor reminiscent of a riverbank; above, a blue-stone tiled ceiling reflects the color of the open sky. In the dining room, preserved manzanita trees seem to grow out of the room itself. In the living room, floor-to-ceiling glass walls frame the views of the mountains and the valley; the room is anchored by a wood-burning fireplace inlaid with a mosaic of two dragons intertwined in the shape of a heart. The home’s architecture and amenities not only honor nature but function in concert with it: the floors are heated geothermally and the endless pool, housed in an adjacent glass building, is solar heated.