Transforming a 1929 Colonial Into a Chic Dream Home

Designer Monica Fried shares how she transformed a 1929 colonial in Scarsdale into a professional cook’s dream home.
By Jenn Andrlik • Photos by Lauren Coleman

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This 1929 colonial had been renovated by previous owners in 2004, but it needed another update. The family who lives here includes professional cook and owner of What’s for Dinner Suzanne Yearley, her husband, and their three teenagers.

Designer Monica Fried, a longtime friend of the homeowners, was brought in to help renovate and decorate. 

“These are always my favorite projects, because you can incorporate design elements such as custom millwork and marble selections from the beginning and have a great base from which to decorate,” says Fried. 

The project included most of the bathrooms, new recessed and decorative lighting throughout the house, refreshing fireplace surrounds, and reworking the kitchen. Fried and the homeowners spent a couple months planning. The renovation took about four months to complete. 

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The overall design is “modern, classic, and timeless,” says Fried. “The directive was to create a chic and comfortable home that can accommodate different types of entertaining and living, from slightly more formal (though who is that formal these days?) to more casual and relaxed.”



First Impressions

A striking entry sets the tone for the rest of this home. One of Fried’s first suggestions was floor-to-ceiling custom millwork in the entry. “We painted the millwork a rich gray color from Fine Paints of Europe, which really elevated the space,” says Fried. “For the decor, we used a black-and-white geometric stair runner and a complementary geometric brass ceiling light.”

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Yearley really loves color, so Fried worked to get a pop of color in each space. 

“Our hint of color here is Holly Hunt stools, which we upholstered in a striped red velvet from Osborne and Little,” says Fried. “I think we hit the right note of glam but inviting.” 



Do’s (and Don’t) of a Renovation

From Designer Monica Fried

Do: Use lighting to make a big impact. “I think lighting is the No. 1 way to update your decor.”

Be of the moment but not too trendy. “I am a big believer in buying furniture with classic lines and using great natural fabrics and wallpapers as the base,” says Fried. “Then you can have fun with accessories and lighting, since these will be easier to swap out in a few years if you get tired of them.”

Don’t: Tackle a project piecemeal. “I think it is much easier to decorate when you can tackle a whole room or house at once,” says Fried. “I often tell my clients they should phase their projects and really focus based on their budget.”



The Heart of the Home​

Because Yearley is a professional cook and runs What’s for Dinner cooking classes out of the house, the kitchen is the most important room. Christopher Peacock designed the room 15 years earlier, and it was in good shape. Fried brought Peacock back in to customize the space for the client’s needs and wants. Together they reworked the space, added a new island and put in pantry storage. They also painted the basic white space a high-gloss gray and swapped out cabinet hardware. New floor-to-ceiling tile from Marble America was finished with dark grout. Yearley teaches cooking classes at the island, so it needed to be functional and stylish. 

But the living room is Fried’s favorite room in the home. 

“When we started, the room felt dark and heavy,” says Fried. “We lightened the color palette, reworked the lighting, and modernized the fireplace mantel. I love the silver-and-pale-blue palette and the luxe mix of textures: mohair sofas, silk curtains, brass and marble details.”

Luckily, the room is large enough that she was able to set up different seating areas, making it the perfect gathering spot for parties large or small. 

“The space is grounded by a large custom sectional from The Bright Group, with clean lines (no arms and velvet back cushions). It’s contemporary but also so chic and refined,” says Fried. “We mixed in some vintage finds because it gives a room soul and helps it not look too staged.”

Fried adds that nothing beats natural light, and the living room has several large windows that bring the outside in. 



Fried’s Favorite Places to Shop

​1st Dibs • Lobel Modern • Modern Drama • CB2 • West Elm • Frances and Son • Current Home • Comerford Collection • Monc XIII



Accessories Are Everything


The artwork and lighting are standout components of this redesign. “Art and lighting are the jewelry of the home and really have the power to change spaces,” says Fried. “Art consultant Hadley Lehrman was instrumental in bringing in art that enhanced the decor. [And] we used some of my favorite lighting designers in this project: Apparatus, Roll & Hill, David Weeks, and Urban Electric. These pieces have such a big impact.” 

The design for the office off the living room was inspired by its rug. “The custom wool and silk rug from Stark was our starting point here,” says Fried. “The existing millwork was repainted, and we decided that rather than be safe and use the taupe color of the rug for the millwork, we would be bold and go blue. The high-gloss millwork combined with the sueded wall covering from Phillip Jeffries is so dramatic.”

A custom cerused oak desk with asymmetrical legs keeps the room from feeling too traditional, and because the room is off of the paler-paletted living room, it is visually interesting. “[You] go from the serene pale silver and light-blue hues in the living room to the more masculine vibe of the deep blue,” Fried says. 





Colorful Spaces

The home is spacious enough that Fried could give each room its own look, feel, and color palette while tying them all together. 

“We loved oyster and black tones for the dining room,” says Fried. “The walls are covered in a silver grasscloth from Holland & Sherry. The lacquer sidebar is a custom design and has shagreen doors and brass hardware.”

The Wendell Castle dining table has a high-gloss walnut top and black lacquer legs. The Zuma chairs are from Kelly Wearstler; they are upholstered in a forgiving ivory faux leather. And the vintage-style starburst chandeliers were custom-made in a taupe color. 

“For this project we combined modern and vintage styles to create a timeless look,” says Fried. “In each room there is a juxtaposition of contemporary and classic forms.”






Purple is the client’s favorite color, so you see it sprinkled throughout the home: the Planter chair in the family room; the shades of lavender in the girls’ rooms; and the master bedroom, where the client’s existing Baker chairs were recovered in purple mohair. 

“In the master bedroom we used soft shades of taupe and purple to create a serene mood,” says Fried. “The custom bed has an elongated headboard and is upholstered in a deep taupe mohair. The bedding is from E. Braun and it perfectly mirrors the room — modern but classic.”

Wall coverings were also used throughout the home to give depth. 

In one of the girl’s bedrooms, Fried used wallpaper in a surprising way. “The Eskayel paper on the ceiling was used to complement the curtains,” says Fried. “We used the same Eskayel pale gray print on the curtains. I love this design because it is modern but has a bohemian feel.” It is a cool teen room but not too young looking. 



What Inspires You?

“New York City and traveling. All the restaurants, hotels, and shops. [It] is a constant source of design inspiration,” says designer Monica Fried.




And, finally, the rec room, which is on the top floor of the house, was a huge standout for the family when purchasing the home. It is a perfect place for their teenage children — and anyone, really — to hang. 

“We separated the space into three distinct areas by using graphic rugs from Liora Manne and fun pendants from Foscarini,” says Fried. “The custom billiard table from Blatt Billiards converts into a dining table. We updated the small kitchen at the back with black and white Knoll wallpaper and floating orange shelves and bar stools. The orange accent color throughout really says what this room is about — fun.”




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