This Rye Colonial Gets a Coastal Renovation From Erika Mercurio Design

Lo Austin Photo

Plus, the best design tips to try out in your home.

This Colonial home in Rye was redesigned for an active family who loves  to entertain friends, neighbors, and other family members. They enlisted the help of Erika Mercurio of Erika Mercurio Design.

“The homeowners wanted an open, casual feel that worked well for their immediate family and could transition into a comfortable entertaining space that would accommodate visits and holidays with large extended-family and sport-team celebrations,” says Mercurio. “It had to be casual and unfussy but also beautiful.”

The Team

Interior Designer Erika Mercurio, Erika Mercurio Design
Architect Paul Shainberg, Paul Shainberg Architects
Contracting PJ Quinn, Meldrum Contracting

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The Details

The key elements for the remodel included an improved open-concept layout downstairs, a reworked entry, and the addition of a master bedroom and bathroom upstairs.

For the design, Mercurio focused on lightening all the spaces, to give them a more airy and inviting feel. She was inspired by a swatch from a painting by David Gonville. “This color was to become a part of a large painting for the family room wall,” says Mercurio. “It is the most beautiful blue, and we wanted anything we chose to work with it.”

Mercurio sourced some incredible pieces of reclaimed wood at a local lumber yard. “Those two elements led to a lot of further decisions,” adds Mercurio. “Because we knew they would warm up the room, we were able to incorporate some more modern choices with cooler tones while keeping everything balanced, from the deep gray on the window trim to the tile on the fireplace and slate for the backsplash.”

West Coast Style

The design is very coastal, with a California vibe. “The open and airy vibe was initially guided by the homeowners, but I wholeheartedly jumped onboard!” says Mercurio. “I spend a lot of time in California and out West, visiting family, and I am truly inspired by the design out there. The overall vibe is so relaxed and brings in natural elements in fresh, modern ways.

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“If I had to describe my overall style, I would call it modern bohemian,” Mercurio says. “I love contemporary design, but my passion is sourcing one-of-a-kind vintage items with soul to create an authentic and textured space. I scour flea markets and antiques stores to find special rugs, accessories, textiles, furniture, books, and more.”

In this home, two of the pillows are made with vintage African textiles; there is a Swedish rag rug in the kitchen, a vintage kilim in the laundry room, and authentic African glass beads on the coffee table. “I love finding these special items for their aesthetics and to support the global economy of design,” says Mercurio.

Color, Color, Color

The designer used bright, white walls throughout the house as a backdrop for the rest of the design. “We made a deliberate and conscious decision to remove color from the space and add it back in very purposeful and edited places,” says Mercurio. “A lot of the color is focused on the homeowners’ collection of paintings by David Gonville. They are bold, color-saturated, and a wonderful complement to the neutral, natural tone of the home.”


Several pieces the family already owned made their way into the new design. “I always try to integrate some existing pieces of furniture or antiques so that the design is personal and meaningful,” says Mercurio. In this design, she used a wood coffee table in the family room, a wood hutch in the kitchen, and a kitchen table made by the homeowner’s father out of Canadian maple wood.

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“We wanted everything we chose for this home to work incredibly hard,” says Mercurio. “It had to be beautiful, durable, and within budget. Achieving two out of three of those caveats is easy. Three out of three was sometimes challenging, but I think we nailed it!” Two of the designer’s favorite items are the soft Crypton fabric on the couch and the Carrara quartzite countertops.

The Powder Room

It is so hard to pick a favorite room, but I absolutely love every single thing about the powder room,” says Mercurio. “It has the most incredible wallpaper (Mr. Blow by Abnormals Anonymous), combined with a matte clay tile from Vietnam that soaks up light in the most gorgeous way.” There are brass fixtures and a vessel sink on top of a reclaimed wood countertop that work seamlessly together. A rug from Waterworks completes the look.

“I always encourage clients to go big in the powder room,” says Mercurio. “It is a small, contained space that most likely every guest will visit, so it is a very efficient place to make high-impact design choices.”


All the art in the home is by David Gonville, an artist and surfer from Rhode Island. “His work is deeply connected to the ocean, which was a great fit to the laid-back, authentic feel of the house,” says Mercurio. “I particularly appreciate his treatment using encaustic, which involves drawings with layer upon layer of beeswax. It contributes to a very vibrant blue that really pops.”

Best Design Tips

Designer Erika Mercurio shares ideas for your home.

Use natural materials whenever possible. “We sourced reclaimed wood to accent key areas, including the fireplace and hood, slate for the backsplash, rattan lighting, shearling rugs, and vintage textiles. When you pull all those textured materials together, it adds authenticity.”

Consider splurging on wow-factor lighting. “The hanging fixtures above the kitchen table and pendants above the kitchen island add so much style to the space and give off a soft, luminous quality of light.”

Add lots of plants. “They breathe life into the space, literally and figuratively. I am currently trying to source the right olive trees for my next project.”

Always ask to see a physical sample (vs. looking at something online or a photo), whether you are painting, choosing tile, or choosing fabrics. “This is incredibly important to ensure that all materials work together in one cohesive design throughout a space.”

Live and love in your house — and make it a home! “Nobody likes coming over to a perfect, sterile house. Pick up meaningful items along your travels; invite friends over even if it makes a mess. A little character goes a long way.”

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