Photography by Paul Johnson, styled by Anna Molvik
Timing is everything, especially in real estate. For the now previous owners of this modern house in Rye, May 2020 seemed like a particularly challenging time to move: It was peak pandemic, but the timeline would ultimately work in the family’s favor. As they had purchased the prime acre on Milton Point a couple of years prior in order to build their dream house, they were able to move in during the pandemic. The custom home would serve as an oasis and a place for outdoor gathering during quarantine. To design the house to their needs, the then homeowners turned to the trusted teams at Rye-based Carrie Parker Interiors and Paul Shainberg Architects, and Long Island-based Mossy Pine Garden and Landscape Design, all of which had worked on their previous home.
“I knew the family well enough to know how they like to live and what works for them,” says Carrie Parker, who was able to give input from day one. “She loves to entertain, and it was important to make it a really fun place to hang out, comfortable and welcoming for many people.” With the house positioned very close to the water, Parker says she wanted to take advantage of the light, keeping the decor bright and clean, with plenty of natural elements.
This mostly white-and-black scheme with lots of stone and wood was also a smart, durable choice for this busy family of five. “They didn’t have tiny kids running around with Sharpies, but they had teenagers who could bang around,” says Parker.
The more private rooms of the house were well conceived, imbued with a serene feel. In the primary bedroom, the couple wanted something warm yet tranquil. A beautiful Phillip Jeffries grasscloth behind the bed set the tone. The carpet was a blend of wool and nylon for durability, yet it was soft underfoot. The primary bath was completely clad in dolomite, conferring a spa-like atmosphere. A private porch off the primary bedroom was outfitted with its own fireplace and TV, making it a favorite escape for the homeowners.
While the majority of the house was cozy and family-friendly, sporting a game room for the teens, the dining room made a bold, dramatic statement. It was the first room you saw when you walked in the front entry, Parker explains, and the dining room’s showstopping back wall acted as a giant work of art, covered in a graphic abstract mural from drop it MODERN. Set below a ring LED light fixture from Eurofase Lighting, the custom Robert James Collection table had a sculptural concrete base that looked like cast iron. “It’s so beautiful that you almost didn’t want to put chairs around it,” she says.
In the kitchen and family room, the connection to the outdoors functioned as a key design element, with banks of French doors and windows leading out to the patio, pool area, and outdoor kitchen. The owners wanted a clean, bright kitchen with lots of room for guests, and Parker worked on details that would keep it from becoming a massive, white space. Oak elements on the island and cabinetry on the refrigerator wall added dimension, and the wood base of the island was very forgiving of the kicking that happens when people sit on the stools. Brass touches in the hardware, light fixtures, and hood created warmth and reflected light, while the waterfall island in Calacatta marble acted as the focal point. That marble was continued in a picket-fence tile mosaic that comprised the backsplash.
Textures gave the kitchen’s eating area its understated appeal. A beautiful oak table with crosshatch striations and brass feet expanded to accommodate extended family and friends. The chandelier and chairs were wrapped in rope that was comfortable, durable, and hinted at the home’s proximity to Long Island Sound. “We didn’t want it to be a literal beachy house,” Parker says, “but lots of elements of nature and things outside by the water appealed to the homeowners.”
Following the home’s open concept, the kitchen connected to an expansive family room. To give this family-hangout zone a more intimate vibe, Parker designed a strong fireplace with a custom mantel and a striking ceiling with modern moldings in a crisscross pattern. The L-shaped sectional sofa from Lee Industries, covered in a performance fabric that’s kid- and dog-friendly, let the family lounge comfortably while watching TV or overlooking the backyard.
Outside, the backyard’s tricked-out spaces featured just about every form of entertainment: a pool and hot tub, a full outdoor kitchen, and an outdoor living room with firepit. “We wanted the landscape to be an extension of the house, just as beautiful and comfortable but infused with plants, sunshine, and fresh air,” says Dennis Flynn of Mossy Pine Garden and Landscape Design, who designed the outdoor areas working closely with Parker on the details and furnishings. “It was functional and cozy for a family of five but also capable of hosting large gatherings,” Flynn shares.
It was easy for the homeowners to serve a crowd from the well-equipped outdoor kitchen, which included refrigerated drawers from Perlick, a 36” Aspire by Hestan grill, outdoor cabinetry from Brown Jordan, and an AZEK pergola overhead with a Sunbrella retractable canopy for shade (both from Walpole Outdoors). On the upper patio, that featured a sectional from RH, heat lamps kept the seating area functional into the cooler months. The whole backyard became a magnet for the family’s teenagers and their friends.
Just as the family was really settling into their dream home and enjoying all of its custom amenities, a twist of fate (and timing) changed everything. “We had no intention of selling,” says the homeowner. But she and her husband noticed how the prolonged pandemic had created Westchester’s hot housing market. “I said, ‘I’ll put it on the market because it’s so crazy, and if we get something that makes us move, we’ll move.’ And that’s what happened.” The house went to contract in five days. “My kids were like, ‘My God, she’s nuts! We’re moving again?’” the now former homeowner says with a laugh.
Earlier this year, they passed the torch to the new family, who were thrilled with the ample indoor and outdoor spaces and sophisticated design. Current homeowner Tricia Kehoe gushes that when househunting, the Rye property checked all the boxes and then some (brass fixtures, waterfall island, safe play areas for their young children, and a work-from-home space). “It is bright, filled with light; it is my happy place,” says Kehoe. While she and her husband retained most of the original design, they are now enjoying working with Parker to customize some spaces to better suit their own lifestyle, adding more kid-friendly features and updating areas to entertain extended family and friends. She explains: “It is great to have the space. We do not need to go anywhere; we have our own vacation spot right here,” adding in a full-circle moment, “It’s my dream home.”