R5 Interior Design 2003

Interior Design 2003


By Nancy Claus Giles

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Beauty, as some very wise man once wrote, is in the eye of the beholder. Aesthetic tastes vary, not to mention change over time, too. What’s in fashion today may be outré tomorrow. So, how does one judge beauty, in this case, interior design beauty? 

We went to the experts—men and women who teach, practice, study, write about or are otherwise involved in home design.

But first, we needed great designs, so we asked anyone who has transformed a room— specifically a kitchen, living room, master suite, home office or bathroom in Westchester—to enter our very first interior design contest. The rules were simple. Contestants did not have to reside in Westchester; the work, however, had to have been done in Westchester. They also had to supply us with professional photographs of their work.

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What were we looking for? Originality, function, comfort and, of course, great design. (We received entries from all over the tri-state area, but, alas, none of the master suites
or home offices made our final cut. Next
year, perhaps.)

 Our panel of experts consisted of Scott Ageloff, AIA, ASID, dean of the New York School of Interior Design; Phillip Ennis, a Westchester Magazine photographer who specializes in interior design; Anne Korman, ASID, professor and board member of the New York School of Interior Design; Linda Sclafani, BFA, New York School of Interior Design and an academic advisor; and Susan Slotkis, an Allied Member, ASID, who is writing a college text for interior design students scheduled for publication next year.

We thank all of the designers who submitted their work. And congratulations to the winners.


 First Place Kitchen 

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David E. Gross, AIA

GF55 Architects • New York


A Traditional Transformed


the first place kitchen winner in OUR design contest is this stunning Rye kitchen (and great room) designed by architect and interior designer David Gross. The ultra-sophisticated contemporary room is the result of a complete overhaul by Gross and his team of not only the kitchen but the entire house from the initial design all the way to fabric choices, right down to finding the perfect paint colors.

“The original house was nondescript, undeco-rated,” says Gross, “a typical split-level.” And he should know—he lives just around the corner from the home, which belongs to neighbors and clients Christof and Karen Lange.

“The Langes wanted a more grown-up, more polished home,” Gross explains. “We wanted to make the kitchen modern, but with a comfortable face.” To do that, Gross used a modern palette and rich, soft-looking materials.

Natural elements abound. The floor is a dark green limestone that has a low-sheen finish, which, Gross says, gives the room an earthy character. Gross also used maple, cherry, granite and slate. The bookcase, housing an entertainment unit and a computer workstation, is made of wood and stainless steel. The kitchen’s work island floats on a stainless steel base and provides “visual lightness.” A built-in banquette is open to the kitchen visually, yet provides a cozy nook for family meals.

What did we like best in the design? “The consistency of the design vocabulary,” says Ageloff. “The lighting was nicely handled, the relative values of colors, the floating island with hood—it all works.” Colleague Anne Korman simply declares: “The design is clean and unpretentious.”


 Runner-Up Kitchen 

Thomas A. Koloski, AIA




Seeing The Light


thomas koloski was in charge of the gut remodel of
this contemporary home in Hartsdale. His clients wanted to create, he says, “a light-filled, comfortable, eat-in kitchen.” The challenge: To brighten the dark, closed-in kitchen, which had just one window.

Koloski looked up and saw, ahem, the light. But when he suggested a 6’x20’-skylit opening with eight fixed skylights framed into the existing roof, the clients were hesitant. “I couldn’t draw the idea in a way to get the point across, so I built a study model and took a video of the model interior to show realistically how the sunlight would come in,” Koloski says. “The clients loved it. They even took the model around for weeks showing everyone their new kitchen.”

The effect is dramatic. The room’s light quality changes depending on the time of day, the season and weather conditions.  Remote-controlled, synchronized Venetian blinds control daylight, and a variety of dimmable artificial lighting varies nighttime effects. Super-insulating glass maximizes thermal efficiency.

Natural surfaces and finishes add to the warmth of the room.  Cherry-faced cabinets, granite countertops, wood-grained laminate flooring, the brick-faced fireplace near the seating area and the bluestone hearth all contribute to the room’s comfort. The view through the arched opening reveals a new family room with a stone-faced fireplace. The clients wanted a remodeled house with some grandeur; “wow spaces” is how they put it. They achieved their goal.


 Runner-Up Kitchen 

Barbara S. Horowitz Design and Decoration

White Plains



Cottage With a Twist


“The home itself could just as easily be
seen nestled in a small Cotswold village, rather than Westchester,” muses designer Barbara Horowitz of White Plains. “Naturally, the kitchen needed to be consistent with the personality of the house. The two-color painted cabinets and drawers with large wooden knobs give these functional kitchen storage units the look of bedroom dressers, recalling the period when people actually used dressers in the kitchen—before wall units.”

She selected an 1830s distressed-pine Welsh dresser and decorated it with ironstone; sweet old maple and cane English chairs sit at the table. “The result is very ‘bed and breakfast,’” says the designer, “but in a European way.”

Horowitz had to work within a “restrictive” budget, which she described as a “great challenge”—and fun. “I typically would have chosen Carrera marble for the countertops—it is so reminiscent of the 1920s baking surfaces. Instead, I used straight Formica with a stainless steel bullnose for an old diner look. It kept costs down and was fun and very unexpected.” The Murano glass chandelier and stainless steel appliances make for more unconventional design twists.


 First Place Living Room  

David E. Gross, AIA

GF55 Architects

New York



A Traditional Transformed—Part Two


There wasn’t any disagreement among that panel that this open, spacious and spectacular living room stood out; it is elegant, sleek and sophisticated. When the panel learned that it was another David Gross design—and in fact, the living room of the house with the winning kitchen design—they were not surprised. Talent wins out.

What did Gross have to start with?  “There was an ill-defined vestibule with a square, plain room, white walls and semi-traditional details,” he says. So he expanded the original living and dining rooms to create spaces that seamlessly flow into each other. He turned the vestibule into a semicircle, with the back curving into the living room, and used Venetian plaster to add texture.

“We continued the theme of the house with textures and colors, although everything is more plush, a bit more formal, in the living room,” says Gross. The furniture is clean-lined and simple with rectilinear shapes. Black is used as an accent color in both rooms to unify the aesthetic. Again, natural materials dominate: leather, suede, glass, granite and a deep, rich cherry wood. “The scale of the furniture is more elegant, with more delicate tailoring. It’s a step up,
but in the same vein as the kitchen/
great room.”

What did he like best about this project? “My clients,” Gross enthuses. “You can’t really create in a vacuum, and my clients had strong opinions about how they envisioned their house and pushed me and my staff to go beyond the envelope. That’s what we like in a client.”


 Runner Up Living Room 

J. Michele Rudolph, AIA

Riverside Design

Pound Ridge



A Sophisticated Palette of

Sensuous Materials


J. Michele Rudolph wanted to make this living room look like a landscape. And indeed it does, with a palette drawn from the varied hues found in the indigenous stone of the fireplace, the focal point of the room. Bright natural light floods the room by day (no drapes to block the view or the natural light). At night, hanging lamps made from Indonesian fishing baskets give a soft, dreamy ambience. The whole effect is comforting and natural—natural colors, natural light, natural Brazilian cherry floors, natural mahogany ceiling.

“This was a new construction on a beautiful site in Pound Ridge,” says architect and designer J. Michele Rudolph. “All the stone used to build the fireplace came from the site, including the huge boulder that makes up its hearth. The fireplace has this wonderful medieval quality that bridges time in a really  terrific way—it works perfectly in an open, modern room with contemporary furniture.”  The simple design of the custom-made rift oak coffee table contrasts nicely with the rustic fireplace.

Rudolph made sure everything was as nice to touch (and sit on) as to look at—supple leather sofas, a textured reading chair, a corded leather ottoman and a handmade wool rug.


 Best Bath 

Linda Evanko, M.O.M.

of Bronxville


Marvelous Mosaic


“I never set out to design a bathroom,” says Linda Evanko of Bronxville, a mom, former tax attorney, and one heck of a designer with no training whatsoever. “Interior design is not my forte,” she laughs. But, as happens in many remodeling projects, she learned on the job.

When the architect transformed an irregularly shaped bathroom into a perfect rectangle, Evanko says, it lacked pizzazz. Then a saleswoman at Best Plumbing in Yorktown made a casual comment about moving the vanity across from the tub and, says Evanko, “something just clicked. I knew I wanted something dazzling to reflect in the mirror.”

On the hunt for the perfect tile, Evanko searched every tile store in the region, returning to some several times. No luck. Then she spotted a mosaic mural on the Internet and traced it to Topanga Art Tile (topangaarttile.com), a small studio in California that specializes in mosaic murals of the Great Barrier Reef sea life. Bingo. Evanko and her husband flew out to Calilfornia to meet with studio owners Paul, Matthew and Leslie Doolin. They liked what they saw and commissioned the group to design a mural for their son’s bathroom.

“I wanted to create a timeless bathroom for my seven-year-old son Robbie that would reflect his love of the color blue and playing in the ocean—without being childish or particularly boyish,” she says. “Because the murals are serious representations of sea life, not at all cartoonish, I believe he will never outgrow this bath, but appreciate it more as he grows older.”

She was equally fastidious in searching out the other materials for the bath. The countertop is Pyrolave, a lava stone from France that comes in a vivid turquoise crackle color and is practical to boot—it’s nonporous and highly scratch- and impact-resistant. The floor tile is inlaid with seashell tiles and glazed with sand, both to simulate the beach and for slip resistance. The pièce de résistance? Baccarat crystal knobs that are shaped like shells. At $150 a pop, it was a decision Evanko agonized over. But they added such “sparkle and life,” she decided to go for it. Six months later, the order came in—in the wrong color. It took another six months for the correct knobs to arrive—aah, the joys of remodeling.

All that was needed were the finishing touches.  Robbie spotted the Sponge Bob Square Pants poster in a Toys “R” Us store. “He wanted it, and he was absolutely right. It was perfect,” she says. “Although as he gets older, he may want to replace it.”



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