Interior designer Rachel Laxer has traveled across the globe. She’s lived in both Tokyo and London, and her professional style reflects her diversity of experience, with furnishings and art sourced from Tokyo, London, and Paris. Still, when she and her husband bought a property in Westchester, she wanted the exterior of their new house to be something distinctly Scarsdale. “I believe that certain towns have a certain look, and in Scarsdale, that’s Tudors and red brick,” says Laxer, owner of Rachel Laxer Interiors, based in London and Scarsdale. She describes her home’s design as classic red brick, built from the ground up by Cum Laude Builders. “It’s important for the house to speak to the houses around it,” she says. The interior architecture is Georgian but with cleaner lines and “not cluttered up.”
Inside, one of the home’s defining design elements draws upon Japanese culture, including shoji screens, which she had in her Tokyo apartment. “It’s about allowing energy to flow throughout the home, or you can close them for privacy,” she says. “I loved the idea of being able to open or close them depending on what was happening in the house.” Instead of screens, though, she had special pocket doors installed throughout her Scarsdale home: solid, custom doors with rough-hewn polished-nickel handles by Haute Deco of London, adding to the cohesive look. The family room — the heart of her home — opens to the kitchen, created by Modern Classics of Greenwich and equipped with GE appliances. But the pocket doors can be closed if they want to keep the spaces separate while entertaining.
The striking entryway features elements that forecast Laxer’s design aesthetic throughout: exceptional custom lighting, a custom rug, and a console and mirror that double as art. “It’s a big part of what I do — not only having art on the walls but also furniture and pieces that are functional art.” The rug, which looks almost like stained glass, is actually a Kyle Bunting product in cowhide, formed in an abstract pattern that is based on a Steven Webster ring that Laxer always wears. Above the console table hangs a Herve Van Der Straeten sculptural mirror; the five-foot-high entry hall lantern hanging in the center hall was created by English artist Mark Brazier-Jones — a collaboration between the artist and Laxer that’s called the Rachel lantern. The scintillating fixture is composed of many lenses, which cast light everywhere.
For her family room and living room, Laxer created equally chic, modern spaces that are livable with children (she and her husband have two daughters) yet always with unique elements. It’s a style she employs for clients too. “I like to source vintage pieces that make things more special,” she says, adding that many have been found overseas. “It shouldn’t look like all the pieces are from one period.” In the family room, a Minotti sectional is paired with vintage Lucite-backed chairs, found at a Paris flea market and re-covered in Edelman suede. The drapery fabric is hand-loomed by a company called Salt, and the fireplace surround is a dramatic, super-chunky stone from Marble America. In the living room in the corner, a black cabinet from Tokyo — actually, an antique kitchen tansu — gives a sense of grounding to the space.
Fortunately for the family, this house was completed pre-pandemic, but they had the foresight to outfit the home with multiple work-from-home spaces, including a library/study, an office for Laxer’s husband, and workstations for the girls. If your square footage allows, Laxer says, it’s a smart idea for kids to have a homework zone that’s separate from their bedrooms. Her daughters, who are only a year and a half apart in age, have built-in desks in a work/play room that sits over the garage. “When COVID hit, it was really fantastic to have those desks,” she says. They’re paired with chairs in a colorful Pucci-esque fabric that are actually from PB Kids.
The sophisticated library was designed with glass doors, which let light into the hallway but also create a quiet respite. It’s a central place to sit with a book or a laptop, or to take a nap, says Laxer, who adds, “When I get up in the middle of the night and think of things, I’ll go there.” Ebony-stained built-in bookcases anchor the room, along with a pair of authentic cane chairs by Pierre Jeanneret, sourced in Paris; a daybed by Swiss company de Sede; and a coffee table from a Parisian flea market. On the floor, a vintage Swedish flatweave geometric rug sits atop a sisal bordered in leather. Laxer notes that antique rugs are often smaller in size because older looms were smaller. Layering rugs is “a great way to keep more of the floor covered and draw the eye to the antique,” she says. Her husband’s home office is covered in the dark, masculine hue from the same stain used throughout the home. The acoustic paneled walls absorb noise. A Brand Van Egmond light fixture acts as a chic focal point.
The family also spend time in the basement, enjoying the theater room, which includes leather reclining seats for themselves and friends. Laxer reports that they love to watch sports and James Bond films in the space. Also on the lower level, the wine cellar houses their collection of California Cabernets; there’s enough room for a table to host wine-and-cheese tastings.
As for the more private rooms in the home, both bedrooms and baths exude soothing qualities. All bathrooms are white and gray with Carrara marble. In the master bedroom, the color palette is ivory and gray. “It feels like you’re stepping on a cloud when you get out of bed,” says Laxer of the silk Belgian rug. The bed’s headboard is finished in a textured leather from Edelman, a choice she recommends because it won’t show wear and tear. The most striking feature in the room is the Perry Burns oil painting (from Sara Nightingale Gallery in Sag Harbor), which draws the eye to the fireplace. In the guest room, the walls are covered in an iconic Hermès pattern (yes, Hermès had wallpaper and fabrics at one time, through a company called Dedar, and Laxer was lucky enough to score some). A bed with an upholstered, tufted headboard is flanked by modern end tables, topped with lamps made from vintage car lights, which were in her father’s bedroom when he was a child. Like the house as a whole, the bedroom blends a mix of old and new furnishings, unique finds, and pieces that have personal meaning, making it a place that truly says, “Welcome home.”