Glamour in the Suburbs
Designer Nikki Rosenthal makes an attention-getting debut with a family home that combines elegance and comfort
In the bucolic hamlet of Chappaqua in Westchester County, New York, a 6,500-square-foot house serves as the impressive showcase for high-impact interiors by designer Nikki Rosenthal. “They wanted a little glam, a bit of a tailored feel,” says Rosenthal of her clients, whose shingled four-bedroom home has more of a Hamptons vibe than the surrounding properties. But rather than adhering to strict stylistic decrees dictated by the structure’s exterior or the decor characteristic of the area’s stately homes, this house is filled with rooms that suit its residents’ every need and mood—quite the feat considering that the family consists of a working couple and two small boys, who have access to even the most formal spaces. “I wanted the children to be as comfortable as the parents,” says Rosenthal, founder of New York City–based Bespoke Interior Design. “No room is off-limits.”
The ten-month decorating project focused on giving each space a particular sensibility, along with a vital thread of personality that binds them together. The dining room’s black lacquer walls, for example, open onto a luminous white hallway hung with brightly colored abstract art, which in turn is located near a living area done in hushed darker tones of gray. “It’s this mix of contrasts that makes the environment more interesting,” says Rosenthal.
Perhaps most unexpected is the husband’s office, meant to evoke the calming mood of a barn from his childhood in Alabama. The floors, walls, and ceiling are paneled in reclaimed wood; a steel desk and vintage leather Knoll chair embody the sleekness of the rest of the home while providing a pleasing juxtaposition to the burlap shades with rope details on the row of windows behind. “He wanted a totally separate [mood],” acknowledges Rosenthal. Similarly organic in style, the master bedroom features a custom-made cerused oak four-poster bed dressed with crisp linens.
Rosenthal, who is known for a contemporary aesthetic mixed with jewel-like vintage details, kept durability in mind throughout. “We tied in some luxurious pieces and fabrics, but overall it feels like a family home,” she says. “Every piece is comfortable—you can really sit in the dining chairs.” The snakeskin klismos chair and parchment-hued cocktail table in the living room are located near an “indestructible” mohair sectional. “It’s important for everyone in the family to use all the spaces and not feel restricted,” adds Rosenthal. This is especially true in the eat-in kitchen nook, which features a rare Le Corbusier chandelier, marble-top Saarinen table, and 1970s chrome chairs upholstered in leather for easy cleanup.
Rosenthal wanted the boys to have a say in decorating their spaces. “I asked about their favorite colors, what they love to do, so that everyone gets excited,” she says. The enthusiasm from each family member is “the best feeling, I’ll be honest. It gets me excited. You’re brought into their world and asked to create something so personal—it’s a big responsibility.” One of her signatures is the use of multiple textures in the same color family—a foolproof way to approach decorating, she believes, even for non-professionals. Other tips to try include textile accents: “a textured blanket in a neutral color, or a sheepskin that you buy at an affordable price and throw over a chair. Elements like that that are cost-effective and can transform a space.”
Because the design process results in many lasting friendships, Rosenthal makes a point of visiting clients a year and a half after projects wrap. “It feels good when you see how much they respect and love their home, how much care and appreciation they have for it,” she says. “The biggest compliment is to watch the kids run around and realize that it’s OK—nothing will happen! They can live their normal life and be comfortable. That makes me happy to see.”