Last week we shared my approach to family friendly, functional interior design when I moved from an NYC apartment to the lovely suburb of Rye Brook in Westchester County. I was chomping at the bit to put that approach into play and renovate my new storybook Tudor home, especially since I didn't have to bother with finicky NYC Condo or Co-op boards.
Step one was to do our due diligence with the town's architectural review board and not make enemies with neighbors. Check. Then, we needed to move in ASAP which meant quickly slapping up coats of paint and ripping out all that luscious pink shag carpet. It had to goooo! Check. Can you see why people ran away from this house screaming?? Luckily I could see all the potential hidden beneath!
And just take a looksie at what a coat of paint can do, it is pretty amazing. Benjamin Moore, Chantilly White for the win!
Finally, for the fun part - designing the house and determining how we wanted to use the space. It’s so rare that I get to design just for me. Like most designers, I appreciate many different styles - modern farmhouse, traditional, eclectic, transitional, boho… LOVE. So picking just ONE for our family to love and live in for years to come was a daunting endeavor.
Rye Modern Tudor design boards (left: living room / right: kitchen)
I decided to keep it as an original English Tudor style, as it was, in fact, a fairytale-esque house with a round turret, slate roofing, and iron-paned windows. Basically, a small castle. The designer in me had to honor the unique architectural and historical features that formed the character of my new home.
There were some pitfalls though. If you've ever been in an older Tudor home, you know they can feel dark and choppy. My challenge, with Lina in tow, was to brighten it up so it didn't feel heavy and stuffy, and bringing out that enchanted castle look in a modern way.
The white walls alone drastically changed the brightness factor, and picking cool lighting was next. Lighting has always been my thing. If you see how I dress, it’s always black or white, but with a crazy piece of jewelry. My lighting is my jewelry in this house. Bling!
the kitchen renovation
While waiting for permits, we were able to spend a few months living in our new home and see got to really see what worked and what didn’t. I can’t begin to explain how important this was. We knew the kitchen would be the biggest renovation in the house. It was last renovated in 1993 with tile countertops, plastic laminate flooring (no, plastic laminate in 1993 did not look like wood, sorry), and vinyl onion and pepper fabric on the banquette cushions and matching valance. The 90’s were just a bad time in design.
Said built-in banquette only had one point of access, which we thought would be great for kids. But it was the biggest waste of space (literally no adult could get in and out) and it ultimately got the boot.
In the end we created a layout for the new kitchen with much more of an open floorplan and a spacious kitchen island. We opened up the wall between the dining room and kitchen, connecting the spaces, but still keeping the dining room special in its own right. It did require serious structural work, but it was more cost effective then adding on to the back of the house (which Lina and I toyed with in one our of many, many floorplan options).
It was a tough call to get rid of the typical eat-in kitchen table, but turns out a big island was even better for our family. Kid-friendly, wipeable, sturdy barstools won my husband over on this design. And because I managed to squeeze in tons of storage, I had the luxury of open shelving by the stove, which made the space feel light and airy (remember, Tudor house = can feel dark). And did I mention the stove?! It was a splurge, but I had to have it.
To make this kitchen really perform, function had to come first, of course. Everything is designed and organized by task. My goal is that when you’re at the stove, you have everything you might need within a few feet, like the spice cabinet, pots and pans, cooking utensils. Same goes for the sink and prep space.
Then, each cabinet is organized by task, where I even broke down my specific family pain points. I’m a petite 4’10" (and ½”, that’s important), and knowing my kids are not going to be giants, I could foresee constantly being asked to get string cheese and snacks out of the oversized built in fridge.
Enter…under cabinet beverage and snack fridge! My kids love being able to get their snacks themselves and have so much pride in the independence. I’m all about making my kids independent, which you’ll see as a common theme throughout our house (and all Curated Nest houses!).
This kitchen was my pièce de résistance! A labor of love, with many late nights on Pinterest and scouring all my trade sources for beautiful lighting and tile. Plus living through a renovation in my house (many frozen pizzas were made in my toaster oven for weeks on end). In end it was worth it. My storybook Tudor now has my own personality and design style, while keeping architectural history alive and well. And with the typical Curated Nest family friendly touch, my mini enchanted castle really is perfect for all members of the Coren family.
And then they lived happily ever after. 😉 (But seriously, design can change your life. Work with us to see how.)