Best in Show: Our First-Ever Design Awards Contest

Westchester residents take tremendous pride in their homes—and it shows. It doesn’t hurt that we have some of the best design talent in the world living and working here, too. We tapped into that talent pool, asking local homeowners, architects, designers, photographers, and anyone with a good, keen eye to show us the best kitchens, baths, bedrooms, living rooms, exteriors, and landscapes. And, boy, did the design community answer: we received nearly 100 submissions. We enlisted New York School of Interior Design Dean Ellen Fisher, PhD; Associate Dean Veronica Whitlock; NYSID instructor Don Kossar; and President of ASID New York Metro Pamela J. Durante to help us single out the best of those submissions, which are now the 13 recipients of our Home Design Awards.

Photo on the opposite page by Suzanne Levine


Location: Mamaroneck
Architect: Christina Griffin, Christina Griffin Architect, PC, Hastings-on-Hudson

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The judges all fell in love with the simplicity and elegance of this space, which winning architect Christina Griffin designed when she undertook a complete renovation and extension of a 1950s ranch. The entry foyer is a two-story space with delicate open wood and metal stairs, a home design Associate Dean Veronica Whitlock described as “visually interesting.” It was designed, Griffin explains, to have a theme of “bright, white surfaces throughout.” 

Instructor Kossar declared that the architect made a great impact. “The staircase adds a dramatic line to a minimal space,” he said. “It takes our eye up toward the chandelier and the clerestory windows.  The use of the dark wood against the white walls and dark floor add to the drama.” Everyone concurred.


Photography by Tom Moore


Location: Croton-on-Hudson
Architect/Planner: Rene Robert Mueller, Riverdale, NY

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What’s not to love about The Retreat, a 1,900-square-foot residence beautifully situated in the woods on a family compound, which also contains an engineering museum and an artist’s atelier. Designed by Rene Mueller, this house is, Dean Fisher declared, “beautiful. The curve of the building and porch is poetic and sensitive to the view and landscape; it also reveals the sensitivity of the designer to people. I covet it.” Instructor Kossar couldn’t agree more. “The exterior works in perfect harmony with its forest setting,” he said, which is something that Mueller was very much after. “The owners, who live in Manhattan, wanted a weekend-escape cottage with views of old-growth trees and topographical features in order to link past and present, and to incorporate a high proportion of outdoor living space,” said Mueller. Mission accomplished!


Photography Stephane Kossmann


Location: Scarsdale
Architect: Sabrina Foulke, Point One Architects, Old Lyme, CT
Builder: Karp Associates, New Canaan, CT

Old-fashioned, yes. Timeless? You bet. What a charming, delightful room. “We incorporated the latest in technology including radiant heated floors throughout the master bath—even the shower,” reported architect Sabrina Foulke. “The husband’s requirement was a huge shower, while the wife wanted a free-standing soaking tub. They were both happy with the result.”
New York ASID Metro President Durante was most impressed with the “crispness and freshness of the room with its soft sky-like colored walls,” noting that it “evokes feelings of wellness and relaxation, a true breath of fresh air.” Associate Dean Whitlock liked the simplicity of the space, along with the elegant lines, while instructor Kossar observed: “The claw-foot tub serves as a sculpture sitting in a white envelope of light.”

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Photography by Phillip Ennis


Location: Hastings-on-Hudson
Designer: Danielle Galland, Danielle Galland Interior Design
New York, NY

Interior Designer (and owner) Danielle Galland reconfigured the layout of a hall closet and bath to make room for a large walk-in shower with three types of showerheads and back-to-back his-and-hers vanities. The three types of marble are meant to emulate traditional black-and-white bathrooms of the past, while the graphic floor design demarks the three distinct areas within the room. Dean Fisher liked “the disciplined palette of parchment, black, and greige,” noting that it “creates maximum impact with the expert use of elegant materials, smooth and refined textures, and contrasting shapes and juxtapositions. This is the bathroom of a lover of classical design, art, and history. I can imagine the stack of books just out of sight!”


Photography by Phillip Ennis


Location: Chappaqua
Architect: Niall Cain, NcC Studio Architecture, Dobbs Ferry

Simple yet elegant. This traditional master bathroom has a wonderfully timeless appeal—with old-fashioned hardware and fixtures, solid white cabinetry, delightful subway tiles, a lovely gray-white marble countertop—and lots and lots of natural light. The corner windows, along with the large French casement windows, serve to “flood the bath with light,” instructor Kossar noted. “And the spacious counters for the sinks allow dual usage without impinging on personal space.” The judges all loved the soothing ambience created by the architect.


Photography by Tom Sibley

Photography by Tom Sibley


Location: Armonk
Designer: Mara Solow, Mara Solow Interiors, Pleasantville

Modern, sleek, and clean-lined, this Mara Solow-designed bathroom with large-sized multi-hued gray tiles manages to be both cool and welcoming. The shapes—square toilet, oval bathtub, angular faucet—are interesting too! Associate Dean Whitlock liked “the combination of darks and lights, angles and curves,” while instructor Kossar noted “the minimal, clean-lined, and inviting bath.”


Photography by Tom Sibley


Location: Armonk
Designer: Mara Solow, Mara Solow Interiors, Pleasantville

There is an Art-Deco element to This  almost monochromatic room with its simple design elements that make it appear both formal and chic. “This bedroom is sophisticated, with the headboard as the focal point,” instructor Kossar said, “and the neutral palette is conducive to rest.” Associate Dean Whitlock found the bedroom to be “texturally interesting.” All agreed that the dog fit right in!


Photography by Phillip Ennis


Location: Waccabuc
Designer: Alice Hayes, Deane, Inc.
Stamford, CT
Architect: Carol Kurth Architecture, PC, Bedford

Photography by Phillip Ennis

Elegant, yet not stuffy; bold, yet not showy. This kitchen is “relaxed, homey, and exudes friendliness,” Dean Fisher noted. “This wasn’t achieved by accident—rather, it is quite expertly handled. The industrial pendant fixtures are fun, and the picture rails let us imagine a growing family, with photographs that change over the years as the kids grow up. I like this room because, unlike many interiors, which are static and unchanging, everything about it implies a space that was designed to be dynamic, where change is not only expected, but welcomed.” Associate Dean Whitlock noted the “nice variety of design elements.”


Photography by Phillip Ennis


Location: New Rochelle
Architect: Liam Winters, William G. Winters Architect PC, Larchmont
Designer: Berdie Stein

Here’s proof that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to build a stunning kitchen. A former garage, this kitchen was transformed during a total renovation of a 1950s “Rob and Laura Petrie”-style three-bedroom ranch into a contemporary, loft-like home. The open, state-of-the-art IKEA (that’s right!) kitchen features honed granite countertops and (this is where the owner splurged) high-end stainless-steel appliances. Architect Liam Winters describes the house as an “Ian Shrager meets Nantucket-style retreat.”

Photography by Phillip Ennis

The judges all were impressed. “The transitional details on the cabinetry provide clean lines for an economically priced kitchen that has the look of a far more expensive European kitchen,” instructor Kossar noted. “The glass cabinets give it a formal look and add interest.”





Photos by John Bessler


Location: New Rochelle
Designer: Elissa Grayer, Elissa Grayer Interior Design, Rye

Simple and elegant: a winning combination. This transitional room beautifully integrates traditional structural elements: beams, french doors, classic fireplace. “This great room is a truly superior design,” Dean Fisher declared. “The room shows a sense of balance and proportion.” Fisher admired the way interior designer Elissa Grayer took a cavernous space and made it relaxing and inviting. “While not a formal room, the way she used texture makes the room elegant and sophisticated,” she said. “It is as if she were saying that a place for family and friends to gather should be treated with respect and care.” New York ASID Metro President Durante admired the coloration, noting how well the soft gray- and-blue palette works.


Photography by Chuan Ding


Location: Irvington
Designer: Lara Michelle, Lara Michelle Beautiful Interiors, Inc, Rye Brook

Photography by Chuan Ding

“A young couple with three kids under age five wanted a warm, inviting space that looked elegant but not formal or stuffy,” said designer Lara Michelle. “This was challenging, considering the room started out as a blank, open space with thirteen-foot-high ceilings and no interesting details.” Michelle was clearly up to the challenge. Dean Fisher admired the way Michelle used the rich bronze color on the walls. “It’s not an easy feat to pull off. She has used the accent color wisely, and I like the use of curved lines to create interest in the furniture, and in the vases in the nooks, easing the otherwise straight lines of the room.”


Photography by Peter Rymwid


Location: Briarcliff Manor
Designer: Linda Blair, The Blair Interiors Group, Ltd, Scarsdale

Photography by Peter Rymwid

Divine, soothing, inviting, and open—designer linda blair’s work in this nearly monochromatic living room proves that good quality mixed with subtlety make a terrific statement. “I had worked with these clients many years ago, and when they moved to their new house, they wanted to continue with the timeless, soothing type of furnishings we’d done before,” Blair said. The 10 Michelangelo reproduction sepia line drawings above the fireplace and window were purchased by one of the homeowners in Italy when she was just 19—for a dollar each! Blair framed and placed them, pulling together the walls of the room, which is open on four sides, giving it a contemporary feel. Dean Whitlock agreed the space was “a good combination of neutrals,” while instructor Kossar thought it was “a comfortable space to view the fire or sit by the window. An optical line is maintained around the room through the use of pictures placed above a low window.”


Photography by Anastassios Mentis


Location: Purchase
Designer: Phyllis Harbinger, Design Concepts/Interiors LLC, Cortlandt Manor

Photography by Anastassios Mentis

It isn’t easy to pull off a room with quiet, classic grandeur without going over the top. INTERIOR designer Phyllis Harbinger made it look easy with this beautifully designed living room—sporting traditional lines in the furniture and accessories with added daring twists of color. “The architecture of the room called for two distinct conversation areas—one fireside, and then a main conversation area visible through antique wood-and-iron doors at the entry to the space,” Harbinger said. The resulting design, Associate Dean Whitlock declared, is “elegant and consistent.” Dean Fisher, too, was impressed. “The designer has balanced light and dark, ornate and strongly classical, and neutral shades with vibrant color to create a warm, rich, and inviting living room. This room is decorative in the best sense of the word—based on an expert foundation of design principles, upon which every element of the room is considered and appropriately treated. It is neither over- nor under-decorated. The room is formal, but thoroughly hospitable and welcoming. Who wouldn’t want to sit in one of those lovely red chairs?”


Photography by Rich Pomerantz


Location: Tarrytown
Designer: Robert Welsch, Westover Landscape Design, Tarrytown

Photography by Rich Pomerantz

Often, less is more. Take this landscape design composed of climbing roses, hydrangeas, and lilies surrounding a bluestone terrace. This small, suburban garden feels both expansive and intimate. Japanese forest grass softens the edge of the terrace and adds just enough of a modern look to make the garden’s owners, urban transplants, happy. “My husband and I were looking for an outdoor space that had a secret-garden feeling,” says homeowner Anne Lillis-Ruth. “We’ve had fun adding furniture, antique planters, and a stone fountain to [landscape designer] Robert Welsch’s beautiful landscape. The white and green plantings provide the perfect backdrop to my collection of colorful table linens, glassware, and china. We love our garden!”
Dean Fisher loved it, too. “The setting is so lovely and relaxed. It evokes the south of France, with its intimate scale and the integration of house and patio through the use of the vines and other plantings.”


Our Best of Westchester Party is July 24!

Our Westchester Home Design Awards event is June 26!

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

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