How This Westchester Family Rebuilt After a Devastating Fire

Designer Denise Wenacur shares how she helped one Croton-on-Hudson family transform their home after tragedy struck.

​Just three days after Christmas in 2015, the Kooney family were notified by their home security company that there was a fire in their home in Croton-on-Hudson. They were on a family roadtrip, a few hours away when they got the news.

When they returned to their house, there was little left of the home they knew.

Faced with this tragedy, they had the huge task of rebuilding. When they were ready they reached out to designer Denise Wenacur of DW Design & Décor. Wenacur had also lived through a house fire years before so she knew what the Kooneys were going through.

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She put together an awesome team to rebuild, including CCI Group, a design-build general contracting group out of Scarsdale, and local architect John Power, who designed the plans for the new house, which included drastic changes. 

They created a larger master suite for the couple, opened up the kitchen to make it more functional for the family of four, updated the mudroom, pantry, laundry area, and created a space for the growing children.

It took 15 months to rebuild the house they can now say they have their “dream home.” Out of tragedy came a wonderful thing.

Part II: Rebuilding a Bedroom After a Fire

Denise Wenacur’s Tips:

The family suggested these key items to have in place prior to a tragedy:

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• Periodically, take a video tour of your home to record your personal items and showing the updates that have been completed in the home.

•Make sure to understand the fine print in your homeowners insurance policy. Understand what ‘replacement value’ means and other important terminology.

• Keep your important papers such as birth certificates in a fire proof safe.

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Denise suggests after you have been involved in a tragedy, do not panic. The most important thing is that family members are safe. All else can be replaced.

1. Build your team: You will need an experienced interior designer, architect, and general contractor. Ideally, they will have had prior experience with a similar situation. Look online at their portfolio, reviews, and ask for references. Do you feel comfortable with them? You will be spending lots of time together!

2. Assess your home: What was working with the layout? What was not? Did you need more space? This is the time to make changes or additions.

3. How long will you continue to live in the house? You may make different design decisions based on if you will be immediately selling, or, living in the house for another 20 years.

4. What is the budget? The insurance company will take several months to finalize its paperwork in assessing the damage. Many people hire a private adjuster to negotiate these details between the homeowner and the insurance company. Then, the question is, what is your budget for the additional items that you want to invest in your home for perhaps finishing the basement or to make changes to create your dream kitchen?

In the months to come, Denise Wenacur will be taking us through a tour of the home and sharing her design tips and how she helped the family rebuild their entire home from basement to top floor. Stay tuned for tips and inspirational ideas you can use in your own home.

• Interior design firm: (and project coordinators): DW Design & Decor llc, Croton on Hudson, Denise Wenacur, Principal & Sr. Interior Designer, Allied ASID, Assoc, IIDA, WBE & DBE certified firm.
• General contractor/Design build firm: : CCI GROUP, Scarsdale, Carmine Giuliano President.
• Architect: John Power architect, Croton on Hudson
• Window treatment workroom: (Trade only) – Leatherwood Design Co., Ossining
• Carpet/rugs: Carpet Giant, Ossining
• Tile/stone resource: Terra Tile, Briarcliff Manor
• Kitchen and bathroom cabinetry: Ideal Kitchens, Croton on Hudson
•Custom Upholstery:  Creazzi Upholstery, Ossining
• Cabinetry: Doors & Drawers Cabinetry, Buchanan
• Closets: Alternative Closets, Mt. Kisco, designer: Lynda Costello
• Custom Barn Door & Bar Table: Willow Hill Equities, Croton on Hudson
• Lighting: High-Light Decorating, Central Ave, Yonkers
• Wallpaper hanger: Simon Wilcox, Croton on Hudson
• Plumbing fixtures: Fergusons, Mt. Kisco


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