Photos by Hulya Kolabas
When a family with three young children purchased this 100-year-old Colonial in New Rochelle, they wanted to renovate and modernize while respecting the character and original features of the house. They hired Malka Helft of Think Chic Interiors in White Plains to design the new spaces and oversee the project to completion before they moved from their Riverdale apartment. “They wanted not only a family-friendly house, but also something completely kid proof,” says Helft. “They didn’t want to be the parents who have to keep telling their girls, ‘You can’t go on those chairs.’”
Before finalizing fabrics for the massive sectional sofa, window seats, and other upholstery, Helft and the homeowners put their choices through a stain test, dousing them with orange juice, tomato paste, and other potential offenders to ensure that the performance fabrics would live up to their claims. She worked closely with EC Builders to update the rooms while carefully preserving original details such as stained-glass windows and moldings. The result? A chic, easy-to-live-in home with personality that’s built to last. “I have walked in many times since finishing the project, and I see all the kids lying on the sofa, and it makes me really happy,” Helft says.
Twin teal chairs from Jonathan Adler bring color to a room where the predominant palette is white, gray, and gold. The chairs nestle against a small desk. “They wanted this little desk in the living room so that if the kids are in there in the evening, they could sit and do a little work while still feeling connected with the family.”
Instead of a formal living room, the family wanted a very large den with a television, a big screen to watch games, and space to hang out with the kids. Helft created the ultimate hangout zone centered around a massive custom U-shaped sectional (12 by 18 feet) covered in gray performance velvet. The homeowners wanted a giant TV, but “I don’t like walking into houses and having a television staring right at you,” Helft says. The compromise: She built a fireplace surround with remote-controlled bifold doors that hide the TV and media components, so the room functions exactly as the family wants but does so with style.
Helft designed the serene master bedroom with warm tones and fabrics to give the busy parents a haven for relaxing. The upholstered bed is a customized version of the Charlene bed from the Kristin Drohan Collection. “She makes beautiful things,” Helft says of Drohan. “The craftsmanship is unbelievable” — an important consideration in this home, where the couple was willing to splurge but only on pieces and finishes that would really last.
Built-in window seats are furnished with velvet cushions and metallic-tone throw pillows that complement the room’s soothing blue-gray walls.
Though some families do away with dining rooms, these homeowners embraced theirs — it’s a hub of the house. The family eats most of their meals at the 12-foot custom quartz-topped table that’s ideal for entertaining extended family and friends. Chairs covered in Design Master faux leather stand up to spills. The antique fireplace mantel and an intricate stained-glass window were carefully preserved, adding to the ambience.
For the grand staircase, which is 25 feet high, she hung a Tech Lighting Mara Grande chandelier from Circa Lighting. It has LED bulbs, so the homeowners won’t have to worry about changing them.
Three-year-old twin girls share this fresh, modern room where the ceiling was treated to a poppy pink called Secret Rendezvous by Benjamin Moore. “I love this because it had a little bit of coral, a little bit of pink — a cute combo.” A striped tepee provides a colorful play space and hiding spot. Window treatments are from The Shade Store.
A handsome wood-paneled room that looks like a library functions as an old-fashioned smoking room. It’s a place to sit and relax and have a drink before or after a meal, says Helft, who found the brown leather swivel chairs with brass bases at West Elm and the light fixture at Jonathan Adler. All of the wood was repaired and refinished, the hardware refreshed, retaining the room’s masculine vibe.
Because the kitchen had been recently refinished, it’s the one room that the homeowners decided not to renovate. But Helft helped to redecorate the eating area, using a table that the family already owned and creating a photo gallery using frames the couple had bought but never taken out of their boxes. “When I start a project with clients, before I do anything, I start looking through the furniture that they want to bring to the new place and their artwork and pictures. I get to know their personality, and it’s also important to have an idea of what they want to add.”