A Westchester Designer Infuses Holistic Design Into This Colonial Home

The redesign modernizes the look of a century-old Colonial with personal touches for a growing young family in Westchester.

When a busy working couple in their late 30s with two young children and a beloved poodle decided to move from the city to the suburbs for more light, space, and property, they found a classic 1929 Colonial in one of the quaint river towns that held terrific possibilities for their growing family. The bones and layout of the spacious five bedroom, 5.5 bath, 6,100 sq ft house were lovely but the new owners wanted to infuse its interiors with a lighter, more modern look. “They loved our aesthetic of eclectic modernism pop,” says Gala Magriñá, a resident of Westchester, and the principal and founder of Gala Magriñá Design of New York. “And we were confident that we could modernize the house while engaging in minimal construction, as they had requested.” The homeowners were also attracted to Magriñá’s unique holistic approach to interior design in which design elements are used to promote health and wellbeing.

The original architectural details were honored by painting many of the rooms a soothing off-white, thus providing the designer with a blank canvas to work with. “We included pops of color in shades of green and terracotta, and introduced personality with abstract art and meticulously curated objects,” she explains. The resulting gracious interiors feature durable family- and canine-friendly furnishings and materials that will help it look fresh for years to come.

Welcome to Our Home

The center hall space warmly welcomes family and friends with a traditional style, hand-knotted Sardinian wool rug in warm reds, tans, and grays; a credenza of reclaimed hand-carved pine in a modern eclectic style; and a patterned grass cloth wallpaper in light aqua and cream.

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modern entryway

Place Settings Everyone

The home’s ‘wow’ statement is the dining room, a major focal point visible from the entry that can host everything from intimate dinner parties to joyous holiday celebrations. To modernize the look of the ceiling moldings, the entire ceiling was painted a warm terracotta color called Rust from Benjamin Moore; Dove Wing, by the same manufacturer, is used on the walls. The room’s centerpiece, an oval oak tabletop on T-legs by Four Hands, is paired with armchairs upholstered in rust velvet and black wooden armless chairs with caned backs, both by CB2. Above the table is a light fixture of dark walnut tiered slats by Arteriors, a modern style again selected in contrast to the home’s more classic elements. The area rug, a viscose/cotton/wool blend, is also more modern with an organic feel.

modern dining

Gracious Get Togethers

Walls painted Benjamin Moore’s Cloud Cover and stone white sheer curtains in a linen/cotton blend add to the feeling of light and airiness in the living room. Beneath a bistro globe chandelier by Studio for Visual Comfort Signature, the modern celadon velvet sectional with storage ottoman and a solid wood block table in a modern shape are the focal points of the space. Other furnishings include a custom-made area rug of New Zealand wool in a neutral geometric pattern, a curved Hollywood Regency style accent chair upholstered in amber velvet fabric, a credenza made of natural wood and woven cane cabinet fronts in a modern organic style by Four Hands, and a small custom bistro table with Carrara marble tabletop.

living room

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What’s Cooking

Streamlined all white cabinets, polished nickel pulls, stainless steel appliances, and a white marble subway tile backsplash bring this heart of the home into the 2020s and beyond. Using a stylish but durable marble on the counters and the top of the island ensures that this busy room can withstand lots of use for anything from meal prep to snack time. A modern organic chandelier made of white wood by Arteriors is centered over the island and serves as a focal point. Painted a charming Van Cortland Blue from Benjamin Moore, the island is surrounded by comfortable Scandinavian blond ash stools by Four Hands.

Good Morning, All Day Long


Part of the main kitchen — but separated by a small peninsula so that it feels like its own room — the sunny breakfast area features a table and bench of mango wood in a modern farmhouse style. With walls painted Pale Oak from Benjamin Moore, woven grass Roman shades, and a seating banquet covered in a durable textured cross hatch fabric in a natural light taupe color, it is designed as a multi-use space that can withstand heavy use by a busy family. The conical-shaped linen-covered chandelier overhead provides ample light for anything from meals to board games to homework.
breakfast nook

Out of the Office Sophistication

office decor

The handsome wall paneling, original to the house, was retained, but the wall over the fireplace was painted Boreal Forrest by Benjamin Moore to both modernize the feel and bring in another touch of color. The modern-shaped, solid black nettle wood desk by Four Hands was chosen as a juxtaposition to the very classic wood paneling. Seating includes a Four Hands upholstered velvet desk chair with nettle wood arms and a steel base, and a modern armless lounge chair and ottoman in olive green velvet; the small pedestal table next to the latter is made of volcanic ash, stone, fiberglass, and sand resin. A print of dog silhouettes from Anthropologie is placed over a black Four Hands credenza that has vertical reeding and a bluestone top.

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Soothing Sanctuary

Creating a sanctuary-like space like the primary bedroom shown here is one of the tenets of the holistic interior design approach. Light woods, soothing textures, and a whimsical organic brushstroke mural wallpaper in cream and blush tones by Drop It Modern were used to create a space where the homeowners could rest and relax. The upholstered sled bed in a modern organic style by Four Hands is dressed in organic linen bedding in a soothing blush color.

Modern primary bedroom

Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice

The interior of the fireplace, redesigned as a shelfing focal point, is painted with a high gloss finish in a cheery Light Salmon by Benjamin Moore and the hand-woven wool rug features a constellation motif in cream and gold.

modern focal point

What Is Holistic Design?

Holistic design, which can be used in conjunction with traditional design, involves paying attention to the way our surroundings touch the whole person, explains designer Gala Magriñá. While traditional interior design is concerned primarily with aesthetics (the look of the space) and functionality (how the space works), holistic design also concerns how the space affects one’s mind, body, and overall sense of wellbeing. In addition to beauty, it considers such elements as air, light, balance, energy, color, nature, material, sustainability, and sociability. For this project, the feeling of airiness was promoted by dressing the windows in the living room with sheer white curtains and opening all the rooms where possible to outside views, and light was promoted by using statement chandeliers in the dining room, kitchen, and breakfast area. A natural feeling was brought in by using accent shades of green and plants as well as organic materials like wood, linen, and cotton. Sociability was encouraged in the dining and living rooms by using light colors on the walls.

While the owners sought out Magriñá for traditional design, she says, they were open to incorporating some of the tenets of holistic design. “Because theirs was an older home, they were intrigued by the idea of ‘space clearing’ using sage to remove any residual emotional debris that might exist in a space.” This ancient indigenous ritual, performed on move-in day while the house is empty, honors the home while creating a clean slate – a happy and peaceful place for the new family. The new owners walked around the house, clapped hands or banged a pot, and then shook sage in the various rooms to clear the house of any stagnant energy. The creating of a sanctuary space, in this case the primary bedroom, was another central tenet of holistic design incorporated into the project.

The Team
Designer: Gala Magriñá, Gala Magriñá Design
Project Manager: Jessica Hannan, Gala Magriñá Design

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