A Dreary Tribeca Townhouse Transformed, Inside And Out

Designer Sara Gilbane tackles a dark and dismal living space to turn it into a bright and cheery family retreat.

Many of us ventured from the city to Westchester seeking space to spread out and a patch of earth to call our own. But one lucky young family of four found both in a Tribeca townhouse on a cobblestone-lined lane “so charming you do not feel as if you are in Manhattan,” says interior designer Sara Gilbane. 

The 1,000-square-foot backyard may be small by Westchester standards, but, thanks to the creative design, it’s functional and feels larger than it is. And though the house was spacious—5,000 square feet, with 11 rooms on three floors—and had terrific potential, it “was a contemporary box with sad, flat walls and zero charm,” Gilbane says. “We could see the promise, but the ’70s grasscloth and dark, dingy interiors had to go.”

Tasked with brightening up the bland contractor’s design, making it more youthful, and infusing it with character, the designer selected a vivid, blue-and-persimmon palette and a clean style inside and out, with lots of texture and colorful furnishings. Though not gutted, the whole house was redesigned, including a new electrical plan, moldings, doors, and bathrooms, and the removal of a wall or two. The project took about a year and a half to complete and offers several great tips and lessons for any homeowner tackling a renovation. 

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The fronts of black-finish dining chairs are upholstered in a navy mohair fabric; an orange-and-blue-patterned linen on the back gives them an especially fresh look. They surround a custom-painted wood dining table in a pleasing bone finish. The living room and dining room are one large space with a loft-like feel. “We wanted each space to feel like its own, while making the entire room brighter,” Gilbane says.

An oversized tan ostrich ottoman is centered on a wool dhurrie rug in a light blue, orange, and ivory trellis pattern. The terrace is glimpsed through a wall of leaded windows, in front of which are a pair of chic orange velvet armchairs. A vibrant color scheme of royal blue and persimmon injects a youthful vibe into the living room. The custom sofa by Sara Gilbane Interiors is upholstered in royal blue velvet from Cowtan & Tout.

The home’s pièce de résistance—the terrace, formerly a “boring yellow brick box”—was transformed into an inviting outdoor living area. Highlights include built-in seating, a wooden trellis, and lots of greenery. 

Altogether, the new look is a breath of fresh air. Organic, natural design elements bring an outdoor feeling to the home’s interior, and indoor-like furnishings bring an inside vibe to the terrace, combining to create a true oasis. 

Centerpieces of the elegant master are a charming bed and canopy custom-designed by Sara Gilbane Interiors and a graceful antique chaise at its foot, recovered in a subtle linen print. Vintage Murano glass bedside lamps add a pop of purple to the soothing gray, natural, and white color palette.

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White ceramic stools, more built-ins, and metal garden chairs provide additional seating. The blue-and-white palette ties in with the interior of the home. The stone floor adds an interesting, organic vibe, Gilbane says, “and the mix of limestone and travertine keeps it from looking flat.”

Formerly a “boring yellow brick box,” the 20-feet-wide-by-50-feet-long terrace now features lots of greenery and seating, including a built-in wraparound banquette. A wooden trellis adds shade, character, and a place from which to hang lighting. 


A vintage-style weathered teak stand serves as a bar for parties and offers plenty of storage for both toys and serving pieces. Freestanding wire trellises add charm, and composite containers are light enough for plants to be moved easily.

A focal point of the living room is a vibrant lacquered collage by internationally acclaimed mixed-media artist James Verbicky. Round pillows in a fun blue-and-white pattern echo the circular shape in the two-piece work of art. 

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Living Room:

Custom sofa by Sara Gilbane Interiors in royal blue velvet from Cowtan & Tout

Custom blue-and-white armchairs by J. Edlin with fabric by Bermingham & Company through Brunschwig & Fils

Orange velvet chairs through Studio Four NYC

Ottoman from BeeLine Home by Bunny Williams with tan ostrich fabric from Zoffany

Custom wool dhurrie rug by Shyam Ahuja in custom light blue, orange, and ivory colors

Empire chandelier by Marjorie Skouras through Dennis Miller Associates

James Verbicky lacquered collage (behind sofa) through Cheryl Hazan Gallery

Built-ins designed by Sara Gilbane Interiors 

Dining Room:

Noir chairs in black finish with navy mohair fabric on the front by F Schumacher and orange patterned linen on the back by Tulu Textile through Studio Four NYC

Glass light fixtures through Vaughan Lighting (New York City)

Custom rug by Sara Gilbane Interiors; Dhurrie by Vanderhurd (New York City)

Unfinished table by Hickory Chair custom-painted in a bone finish by Alpha Workshops (New York City)

Master Bedroom:

Custom designed bed and canopy by Sara Gilbane Interiors featuring velvet by Studio Four NYC

Idarrica Gazzioni sheers through Studio Four NYC

Antique chaise from Judy Frankel Antiques featuring C&C Milano fabric in Pienza Carciofino (white-natural) through Holland and Sherry (New York City)

Noir Redhill side tables in hand-rubbed black

Vintage purple Murano lamps through Swank Lighting

Bedside sconces from Vaughan Lighting (New York City)

Viscose carpeting in Glacier Grey by Beauvaise Carpets (New York City)


Designed by Sara Gilbane Interiors and Lauren Loscialo

Pillows with blue embroidery from Antony Todd (New York City)

Table and dining chairs from Restoration Hardware

White ceramic garden stools by Emissary

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