Photographer Sivan Askayo is a freelance travel photojournalist based in New York City. (She has a great blog here.) This June, she was in Lisbon, on the hunt for the two most important things for a modern traveler: a bathroom and a WiFi connection. She stumbled into the Belmont Coffee Club, and while checking her email, she chatted with the friendly staff and the cafe owner, Frederic Coustols. One thing led to another, and Sivan found herself touring the Palacio Belmonte. Lucky for us, she brought her camera. If you aren’t planning a trip to Portugal any time soon, that may change after seeing this peek. Even if you don’t live in a palace, the colors, the simplicity of the furniture and the layering of textiles could be translated into almost any space. I know I’m inspired by that perfect blue. Thank you, Frederic! And thank you, Sivan, for the lovely photographs! — Amy Azzarito
Image above: The blue painting is by my wife, Maria Mendonca, while she was in China. The table under the painting is from an antique dealer in Monsaraz, Portugal, one of the most beautiful villages in the world. It’s from the 17th century, and I chose it for its simple, elegant lines that pair perfectly with the white lime-washed walls. The carpet is a 50-year-old kilim rug.
Image above: At the Belmonte, any room, any terrace or any tiny space in the garden can be transformed into the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The choice depends on one’s mood, the air, the colors, the views. If you’re in the mood for a noble setting, you might choose this room with its 25-foot-high ceilings, huge double white doors and magnificent views of the old city and the sea. The azulejos panels date to 1725 and are signed by one of the best Portuguese masters of the time, Manuel dos Santos.
See more of Frederic’s Portugal palace after the jump . . .
Image above: When we furnish a space, we try to use true Portuguese materials, furniture and colors.
Image above: We named this suite Ricardo Reis, the name of one of the 17 Fernando Pessoa (the great Portuguese poet) heteronyms. This yellow room is the suite’s sitting room, and the cameo portraits are figures of one of the Marquis and Marchionness of Belmonte. The floor was designed using jacaranda wood in the traditional pattern.
Image above: This room is so special, we won’t define it here. You have to come visit us.
Image above: The writing desk is from a 19th century Portuguese ship and has many secret drawers.
Image above: The frescos are so fresh that nobody could believe they were covered by 20 layers of paint and had been discovered by the electricians while digging to hide their tubes. Imagine discovering frescos beginning in the 19th century on the wall of your bedroom! Wouldn’t you jump to the ceiling?
Image above: Details are essentials.
Image above: Sometimes the best design comes from being able to mix complementary colors. Simple to say, but not so simple to do.
Image above: The view in this photo is part of the view you have from each room in the Palacio, from each of the seven terraces. It’s the view over the old city of Lisbon and the Straw Sea with light always changing, fresh air, and birds singing.