Designer Britt Zunino has created a beautiful home in Upstate New York that cleverly blends a sophisticated palette and innovative ideas with family life
designer britt Zunino gave a young family’s colonial-style new york home a much-needed makeover
Keeping the furnishings and decor minimal in this open space creates a clean transition between the different rooms and storeys of the house.
Get the look The circular sofa is a bespoke design by Studio DB.
Britt used rounded furniture and accessories to echo the curves of the living room. The sinuous pieces of mid-century designer Vladimir Kagan inspired the design of the bespoke sofa.
Get the look The sofa was custom-designed by Studio DB and upholstered in Ritzy White Sands fabric by Perennials. The coffee table is from Yield’s Duotone range. The rug beneath the coffee table is by Studio Proba and the rug in the foreground is by Studio Four. This is the Apollo mirror by Ben & Aja Blanc. The side table is Egg Collective’s Wu. The floor lamp is from Anthropologie. The cushions on the sofa are from Room & Board and the cushion on the armchair is by Studio Four.
says designer Britt Zunino of the colonial-style house she renovated for a young family in Greenwich, Connecticut. ‘If it were a person, I imagined it as a mum with five kids, who really needed a holiday – and I say that as a mother of four. She was tired. She needed to get a tan and a new outfit.’
The owners – one a doctor and the other working in finance – relocated from Manhattan, one and a half hours away, to have more space, but while they loved the home’s plus-size proportions, they didn’t love its dark red walls, heavy drapery and the overload of cherry wood.
‘It came from a different era of decorating,’ says Britt, co-founder of New York design practice Studio DB, who stripped everything back, painted the walls white and pale grey and sanded down the floorboards. ‘They wanted the house to feel cool and young and reflect who they are. She has an incredible sense of style and he surfs a lot. They didn’t want to feel like they were selling out and moving to the suburbs.’
Being such a big house (8,500sq ft, across three storeys and a cellar), it was important to create visual connections between the rooms, so Britt repeated materials, colours and textures throughout. Brass, for example, is used for taps, tables and mirrors across the whole home and pink is repeated in the dining room, powder room and living room.
‘You can look from room to room and see continuity, but every space still feels different,’ she says. ‘We used the elements in different ways, so the repetition feels subtle.’
And while the materials and colours are restrained, the way Britt has used them is anything but shy. Marble covers the entire walls (and even the extractor hood) in the kitchen, and glossy teal paint envelops the librar y from wall to ceiling. ‘We wanted the house to feel luxurious, but not flashy,’ she says. ‘And to throw in things that are a little unexpected, like an
Inspired by a photo of American artist Cy Twombly’s studio, the floor features two types of marble cut into a fractured geometric patten. ‘We were going to stick to wood, but we felt it was important to do something bold and fun in this space,’ says Britt. ‘It’s the first thing you see as you enter, so it sets the tone.’
Get the look These are Bardiglio and Calacatta Gold marble tiles, cut for a custom pattern, supplied by Superior Selected Stone. This is the Penarth mirror from Crate & Barrel. This is the Mini Orbs wall light by Allied Maker. This is a vintage lacquered goatskin console table by Karl Springer – find similar at auction houses. The decorative homeware on top of the console is from CB2. This is the Discus Pendant 3 ceiling light by Matter. The artwork is by Geoff Mcfetridge.
THE DESIGNER Britt Zunino, co-founder of New York design practice Studio DB, who renovated the home for a young family and their dog. THE PROPERTY A house with three storeys and a cellar in Greenwich, Connecticut, built in 1900 and extended by Pennoyer Architects. The cellar has a gym, family room, children’s play space, wine room and storage. The ground floor has a kitchen, sunroom, dining room, living room and library. The first floor has four bedrooms and bathrooms – one of them a master suite with separate dressing room and walk-in closet. There is also an additional guest bedroom and bathroom above the garage. asymmetrical brass light in the entrance hall, or a pair of welcoming rattan chairs next to the fireplace.’
With two small boys, aged four and one, and a pet dog, the owners needed the home to be durable as well as beautiful, so Britt used easy-clean materials throughout, such as wool and jute rugs and outdoor fabric to cover the sofa in the living room and the banquette in the sunroom.
‘I know from experience what happens to your home with young children,’ she says. ‘There’s no point in creating a stylish space if you can’t also feel comfortable hanging out in it.’
Word from the owners is that she has achieved just that – a home that’s as easy to live in as it is to look at. ‘They’re still in the honeymoon phase, where all their friends and family love the house and want to come visit,’ says Britt. ‘But they’re also using every room, which is always a challenge in a big house like this, so I feel like we’ve hit our goal.’
Work on the renovation was completed in six months and Britt worked closely with the owners from start to finish. ‘We get to know everything there is to know about our clients when we work with them,’ she says. ‘We know who goes to sleep first, what side of the bed they sleep on, when they shower, what their day looks like – because the house has to reflect them not just in how it looks, but also in how it works.’
And what kind of person would the house be now the makeover is complete? ‘It’s still the same mum. We weren’t looking to change her character. We just wanted her to feel refreshed and give her renewed confidence,’ says Britt. ‘She got a new haircut, an updated wardrobe, maybe a little Botox and she’s back feeling 10 years younger.’
See more of Studio DB’S projects at studiodb.com
Slightly arched chairs and a show-stopping spherical chandelier offset the formality of the room.
Get the look The dining table was designed bespoke by Studio DB in collaboration with Common Practice Studio. These are Niels Otto Møller side chairs from Design Within Reach. This is the Cloud chandelier by Apparatus. The wall art and the vase, jug, bowl and glasses on the table are the client’s own – find similar glassware at LSA International. The Court sconces are by Allied Maker.
Hints of brass and shades of muted teal draw together the different components of the space and are echoed in the adjacent living room. Get the look
Find similar wooden statues at Afies Antique Market. The picture light is from Restoration Hardware. The painting is by Irene Zenon. A similar wall colour is Varsity Blues semi-gloss paint by Benjamin Moore. This is the Casey rug from Aronson’s Floor Covering.
‘We did selective construction in this room and kept what we could from the original kitchen’s structure,’ says Britt. ‘I think it’s important to conserve what you can in a renovation.’ Get the look
The wall is covered in Statuario Tucci marble, supplied by Stone Source. The cabinets were made bespoke by Studio DB and painted in Benjamin Moore’s Sidewalk Gray satin finish lacquer. The sink is by Shaws of Darwen and the tap is from Newport Brass. The worktop is made out of Pure White Caesarstone. The sconce is from Roll & Hill.
The library is a great example of Britt’s approach to colour and material – sophisticated but indulgent, the panelling covers the entire walls and ceiling. It offers a fresh take on a traditionally masculine space.
Get the look
This is a vintage Hans J Wegner Papa Bear chair and ottoman – find similar at Pamono. The Grasshopper floor lamp is by Greta Grossman. The bar cart is Florin from Consort Design.
Leading directly off the kitchen, this is one of the most frequently used spaces in the home.
Get the look
The dining table is by NJ Modern. These are J104 Hay chairs from the Danish Design Store. The rug is by Serena & Lily. The Dreamweaver lights are by Pop & Scott. The banquette is a bespoke design by Studio DB, upholstered in Beach Blanket textured fabric by Link Outdoor, with cushioned seating by Basil Horn. The cushions are a mix of Room & Board, Oliver Yaphe and Studio Four designs.
‘i love warm modernism – clean lines, great textures and liveable spaces are my thing ’
A multi-tiered light that transcends all three floors adds drama, while the simple design and monochrome scheme has a sophisticated, elegant effect. Get the look
This is the Hanging Mobile No.405 light by David Weeks Studio. The framed photograph is 5Pointz by Jeff Chien-hsing Liao.
‘It was important to add playful moments such as this room,’ says Britt. ‘The style is bold, but it’s tempered by the more neutral and sophisticated spaces in the home.’ The colours can all be seen throughout the rest of the house: the pink is repeated in the dining room, the teal reappears in the library and marble is used in the entrance hall and kitchen. Get the look
The wallpaper is Abigail Borg’s Mathilda Midnight from Studio Four. The ceiling lights are by Nash Martinez. The Fior di Pesco Apuano marble vanity unit is from ABC Stone and the tap is the Priya single hole from Newport Brass. The Infinity round mirror is from CB2. The door (seen in the reflection) is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Yukon Green.
Small, more colourful rooms add personality and surprise to the otherwise neutral interior. Here, the feminine pink patterned wallpaper is offset by a more masculine stone washbasin. Get the look
The wallpaper is Tapestry in Coral Pink by Quercus & Co. The Hudson vanity unit is from Restoration Hardware. The Hedges wall sconces are by the Urban Electric Co. The mirror is from Wayfair.
This room has a distinctly more relaxed feel to it than the rest of the house. ‘In a big property like this, it’s important to make each room feel slightly different, to give it its own identity,’ says Britt. Get the look
This is the Cole House trundle bed from Restoration Hardware. The fluffy pillows are from Room & Board and the smaller pillows are by Studio Four. The striped throw is by Archive NY, sourced through Studio Four. This is Bellewood Black Toile wallpaper from Rebel Walls. The Akari UF3-DL paper lantern is by Isamu Noguchi. Find similar vintage Moroccan rugs at Beldi Rugs. The Scandinavian Design Center sells similar wooden rocking horses.
What is your interiors bugbear? A room full of furniture from the same store. Whether it’s designer or Ikea, it never looks interesting. Mix it up!
One thing every home should have? Happiness. Everyone should own something that makes them smile.
Have you ever lived anywhere terrible? I lived in Colorado with eight messy boys, who used discarded lawn chairs as indoor furniture.
What do you keep hidden away at home? Personal items. I love it when the bathroom vanity is tidy. Just soap and a pretty vessel.
If you could live anywhere, where would you choose? A horse ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It’s my family’s happy place.
Who would you love to design a home for? My parents. I’m crossing my fingers it will happen soon.
Minimal building work was needed for the renovation, save for the large master bathroom, which was converted from a bedroom. ‘We had to restructure the floor so that all the tiles could be flush,’ explains Britt. ‘That was the most challenging part of the renovation, because it’s an old house, so it was hard to insert clean lines – but we figured it out.’ Get the look
This is the Elise bath from MTI. The floor and bath splashback are made in Calcutta Turquoise marble from ABC Stone. The floor tiles are Bianco Dolomiti from Stone Source and the terracotta wall tiles are Zellige in Weathered White by Clé Tile. The shower enclosure is Ridgefield Glass and the brass taps and shower fixtures are by Watermark Designs.