A Real Gem: MATEO for Elle Decor
Jamaican-born jewellery designer Matthew Harris’s newly renovated Lisbon home is “a real gem”. So says the ultimate guide to decorating and design: Elle Decor. Harris’s Lisbon pied-à-terre is the focus of the mag’s April 2023 issue.
When SO last ‘toured’ one of Harris’s homes it was 2021. At that point he was showing off his Houston pad for the Coveteur. Harris had lived in New York for 12 years prior to relocating to Texas in 2020. The art gallery-esque Houston pad, with its black and white palette, and statement art pieces, was quite impressive. But Harris now has a new perspective when it comes to home décor. “It’s a wow, but it’s hard,” Harris recently told Elle Decor. “People don’t know where to sit—is it art or a chair?”
Harris did savour the Houston spot, though. But during the pandemic, his yen for more real estate intensified. He contemplated a second home in Europe, where he admits he spends much time working. Fond memories of Lisbon — a place he visited a decade earlier for business — caused him to set his sights on Portugal. “It had the best of everything: amazing food, it’s so multicultural, and the people are actually nice,” he told Elle Decor.
After researching the local real estate scene (from his home in Houston) Harris purchased an apartment sight unseen on the top floor of a 19th-century building at the heart of the city near the capital’s grandest avenue: Avenida da Liberdade. “It’s like Lisbon’s Fifth Avenue,” Harris said. “Just less manic.”
Portuguese architect Rui de Abreu helped Harris realise his interior design dreams. After a year-long renovation project, the 1,000-square-foot Lisbon flat is now a contrast to his Houston home: Warm and approachable. “It’s like it almost hugs you,” he explained.
Given his long-time love for sculptor Alexander Calder’s work — the fascination dates back to his childhood when he visited New York from Jamaica and first saw Calder’s mobile sculpture Flight at the John F Kennedy International Airport — it made perfect sense that he included a piece by the artist in his new home.
And, though the dining area’s Calder tapestry is exquisite, and the bathrooms tiled in traditional Portuguese blue-and-white azulejos are beautiful, the real gem of the home is the jewellery room. “In every home I own, I want a room dedicated to jewellery, and it was time for an emerald room,” said Harris, who achieved the rich hue with 11 coats of paint.
Now that his Lisbon apartment is complete, Harris’s urge to design new spaces has only increased. He is already designing a villa for himself in Jamaica. After that, he has a more ambitious target. “I’d love to design a hotel from scratch,” Harris said.
Elle Decor April 2023
Story by Tanya Dukes
Photographs by Maureen M Evans
Styled by Tessa Watson