how to approach design when you move from nyc to the burbs
I always imagined raising our son and future kiddos would involve brownstone stoops, Central Park picnics, and chasing the bus as it's about to pull away (while dragging a slow-moving kid).
Image source: StreetEasy
Flash forward 3 years, and we made the unthinkable happen… we moved to the BURBS! We had plans to stay in the city forever, but once we saw our dream home in Rye Brook, Westchester, coming back to the city just didn’t feel like home anymore.
erin's dream home
We moved into a 100-year-old storybook Tudor house with a round turret (like mini castle), and an old horse carriage house converted into a 3-car garage and huge office (aka, Curated Nest Headquarters!). While many Tudor homes are dark, this one had generous iron windows, exposed beams, Juliet balcony, and beautiful architectural details.
….Aaand that is where the charm ended. Each room was comically designed, with a lot of “character.” We’re talking pink shag, bell pepper kitchen tiles, rainbow walls, and 80’s wood paneling.
My natural reaction to this peppery goodness: “I’m in LOVE.” 😍
take a critical eye
As an interior designer, I knew it was important to look at the house as a whole before tackling all the pretty things. This house had to work for our family and still offer that luxurious, spacious feel I so craved. So naturally I played by the rules of my own family friendly design playbook. Function first, people!
Me a few years ago, right as we were planning our renovation, 7 months pregnant with my daughter.
I started by analyzing the existing flow and circulation of the home’s layout to identify issues. I found there was LOTS of room for improvement. With 3 floors and 2 young kids (technically one in the belly), I had to transition my mindset from open concept, compact city living to a much grander space with an older, more traditional layout. For example, the kitchen was large, but somehow still felt cramped. It was closed off from the rest of the home. There was no proper everyday entry or mudroom, meaning we’d walk directly into the kitchen, depositing shoes, bags, packages, the works, on the floor. Another odd feature – the bedrooms were very unevenly sized for the kids, leaving one with the coolest room ever, and the other with the less cool room.
mapping out lifestyle
Given these challenges, I proceeded, with Lina’s help, to map out how our family lives, defining our lifestyle and priorities. For example, my husband and I work full time, with him commuting to Manhattan, and our young kids have lots of playdates and still require a lot of supervision. We’re super busy people and like using technology to make life easier. “Alexa, make me a cup of coffee, stat!” We cook a lot, have family over often, and are evening homebodies (our Netflix game is strong). And I love doing crafts with my kids and encouraging creative play.
I went even further to determine my storage needs too (how much? what kind?). And I anticipated how our needs would change over time in terms of how we’d use different areas of the home.
Source: The Road to Domestication
designers, make it work! (for you)
Armed with all this data, I was ready to thoughtfully determine a furniture layout for each space allowing for accessibility, flow, and function. Not only that, but I was prepared to tackle a much-belabored kitchen renovation, mudroom addition, and on the fly master bath renovation (due to massive mold discovered during demo…more on that some other time).
Demo day was way too much fun!
Lina and I worked as a team, as I am, of course, my own worst client, and the end result was a functional and beautiful home (more deets in future blog posts), with personal touches, special places for each individual, especially my kids, and a family friendly core to keep my home “performing” at it’s best.
Design trends change as quickly as your wardrobe (remember that stuff in your closet before Athleisure was a thing and you became a mom?). So we approach it with the goal of being true to your specific lifestyle, be thoughtful about how your family lives, and not other people’s #Insta-goals. That’s how we achieve livable luxury for families.
With everything going on with Covid-19, I know a lot of people are debating making the leap to the suburbs. After 3 years of living in Westchester, we’re glad we took the plunge. I could totally go for Wo-Hop in China Town right about now…or I could cook in my fabulous, bespoke kitchen.