The Tucumã apartment buildings in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, are among the choicest properties around — but don’t let that fill your head with visions of a sterile, ultra-sleek veneer without touches of wit or whimsy. Far from it, in fact, in this design by Brazilian architect and designer Mauricio Karam. Start out with a glorious floral arrangement on a “driftwood” style shelf in an entryway, and you know you’re entering a modern contemporary domain; the soothing neutrals on the living room walls, warm paneling in the dining room, and round modern light fixtures confirm that style. But then you look around you and you see…a cat; a bright blue one, in fact, in a painting on the dining room wall. And this is only the start.
Out the sliding glass doors is the terrace — a whole series of mini-rooms expanding the indoor living space outdoors. (Room to work is at one end, candlelit entertaining is at the other.) Then you see…another cat. This time, it’s an orange-and-brown portrait, in a tongue-in-cheek “coordination” with stripes in the rug. In a media room, take a look at the shelves, and there you see motorcycles. Models, two full shelves’ worth of them, displayed with pride. Down the hall is a kid’s room full of frogs and another that’s a nursery, with a cute tree mural on the wall that just invites a “climb.” The “adult” element comes back in the dining room, with its pure white table, chairs, and candelabra — until you see that matching cat portrait on the wall. Without a doubt, this Karam design has a sense of humor, and enough panache to carry it off.