A blank canvas can be the ideal starting point for a modern design project. But when the empty room in question is unusually long, with an odd, slanted ceiling, the creative process becomes a bit more challenging. That was the case with this living room in a 1970s raised ranch in White Plains — a house where the homeowner grew up. Not much had changed since her childhood, and the massive living room was rarely used, except for storing a few of her kids’ toys. “She was overwhelmed by the size of it,” says designer Alana Irwin, who was tasked with transforming the architecturally underwhelming space into an inviting living room for the family of four.
Irwin’s design defined three spaces within the elongated room: a game area, a bar, and a spacious sitting area for entertaining and hanging out. “It’s very conducive for kids and adults,” says Irwin, who covered most of the furniture in Crypton stain-resistant fabrics to keep it worry free. Even the mohair-covered daybed is a favorite with all ages. “The kids are always lying on it,” she says. To create interest and address the challenging roofline in the lounge area, Irwin planned for visual focal points that are functional, too. “We built in the bookshelves and fireplace, which draw your eye away from that angle.”
Throughout the space, the elements blend beauty with practicality. For instance, the limestone-surrounded fireplace is electric, so the family never needs to bother lugging logs inside. The coffee table features ivory cutouts that are removable trays for serving drinks and food. The midcentury-style sofa covered in kid-proof navy was custom made in an extra-long size to match the space and provide additional seating. In the game area, a Lucite table has three interchangeable tops: one for chess/checkers, one for backgammon, and one for cards.
Irwin adeptly balanced the preferences of husband and wife. “That’s my specialty. People say I merge masculine and feminine together really well,” says Irwin. “The feminine part was the color for her, and the masculine was all the midcentury pieces.” Vibrant hues are introduced in all three living-room zones, with bold art by Lulu DK, which was printed on Plexiglas and imported from London. One of the standout vintage pieces is the bar, a Milo Baughman classic. On the sofa, a vintage Missoni print covers an oversize lumbar pillow
The last piece to be installed in the living room was the first piece that Irwin showed the homeowners: an Aerin Lauder chandelier. “She went crazy for it. It was backordered for nine months, but she was willing to wait for it,” says Irwin. “I had to go back and hang the light.”
It’s the finishing touch on a space that ticks all the boxes on the homeowners’ wish list: a very loungey hangout place where they can entertain, play games, and just chill out with the family.
Design team: Alana Irwin
Contractor: AVM Construction
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