Whether at home in Los Angeles or hanging at their sprawling retreat in Trancoso, Brazil, designers Cortney and Robert Novogratz know how to create composed and playful digs. In their 2017 book Beachside Bohemian: Easy Living By The Sea (Rizzoli, $55) they share how the laid-back, artsy Trancoso lifestyle inspired the unfussy 5,000-square-foot oasis they frequent with their seven–yes, seven–children.
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Make it artfully spare
The couple made a conscious effort to keep the better part of the home neutral, and play up the texture and graphic woodwork. Case in point, in this bedroom they layered on only simple, soft white bedding and light, gauzy curtains to contrast the intricate vaulted ceiling and beautiful wood-paneled walls.
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Upgrade the essentials
The humidity makes open shelving a necessity, but the Novogratzes designed an artful interpretation with a combination of peg racks, basic rope, and locally made baskets.
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Kick back everywhere
To accommodate a family of nine (plus regular guests), an abundance of lounging (and napping) zones throughout the home were essential. They scooped up several deep, low-slung couches from a bar in town that was shutting down. They recovered each piece with crisp, white, removable cushions that meld with the beach vibe but can be thrown in the washing machine for effortless clean up.
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Think outside the art box
Whether at a full-time home or vacation digs, Cortney and Robert believe that to instill an early appreciation for art it should be sprinkled throughout the house. The boys' room is treated to a relatable yet graphic grouping of skateboard decks.
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Light the way
Cortney asked a local artisan to hand-make the lampshades that line the enclosed porch. When creating a similar project, she suggests choosing several different fabric with a common theme, whether color or pattern, for a cohesive yet eclectic look.
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Add natural touches
The family makes it their goal to spend the majority of their time outdoors, whether it’s surfing, exploring the jungle or forest, or hanging out around the swimming pool. The pool deck is finished in a gray weathered wash and the bottom of the pool is lined with smooth rocks, creating a mosaic surface that make it feel more like aquatic art.
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Create communal areas
There’s no shortage of gathering spaces throughout the home, and the couple designed each to retain its own distinct vibe. The pool-adjacent bar, for example, isn’t simply where they serve up lime sugar- and rum-based Caipirinhas (the recipe is in the book), but it also earn wows for its enormous handmade pizza oven. Cortney says although pizza is the family’s unanimously favorite food to make in the oven, they also use it to bake just-caught fish, breads, desserts, and more.
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Throw together something fun
The comforts of home aren’t easy to come by and that’s actually the way the family prefers it when they’re visiting Trancoso. But the spirit of family-friendly competition lives on, so they improvised and built a makeshift ping-pong table. To make one at home, use these dimensions: The table should be nine feet long by five feet wide and two feet by six inches tall. The net should be six inches high with a six-inch overhang on either side. Finally, they advise, paint it in bright colors for the ultimate photo opps.
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Layer on the odds and ends
While Cortney and Robert kept the decor minimal overall, they still managed to tuck in some of their signature vignettes–a cool mix of modern essentials and primitive flea market tchotchkes.
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If you build it, they will climb
“I always wanted a treehouse as a kid,” says Robert, who was influenced in by boyhood memories of watching the always-epic Swiss Family Robinson. So when it came to the property, a treehouse was high on his wish list. Now the 600-square-foot space, which was made from a mélange of local materials and features a staircase that wraps around an existing tree, is so popular among the family they draw straws to see who gets to camp out there during their stays.
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Make paint punchy
Taking inspiration from the town’s markets, cafes, and its thriving artist community, Cortney and Robert chose saturated hues for the home’s otherwise simple bathrooms. A bright pink or yellow invigorates sleepyheads in the morning and because it’s just paint, it can be swapped out for another color easily.