For the Manhattan natives
that reside in this 2,000-square-foot flower box of a home,
a Long Island cottage was just what they needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. The fixer-upper cottage was built in the early 1900s and was once an add-on to a larger property in the Locust Valley area of New York. The house underwent some major renovations and an interior makeover to bring it to the inviting North Shore cottage it is today.
A NOVEL HOME
The neighborhood seems straight out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. The home is surrounded by a lot of larger houses and their adjoining cottages. The homeowners and Dean DeTura of Budget Contractors, tried to keep as many original elements as possible when they set out to revive the rundown property. Amal Kapen, the interior designer, says, “They tried to keep the original wide-plank floors where possible, and the outside was refurbished to its former charming facade.”
With any small home, there will be some design challenges. In this cottage, a main priority was disguising the multitude of eaves in the home. Amal says, “A busy, nondirectional pattern can help in blurring the many lines created by the eaves.” Paying attention to symmetry and balance is key, but that becomes difficult in a home where the windows and doors are not centered.
By using the furnishings and accessories as the focal points of the room, Amal was able to create balance where previously there wasn’t any. “When you are dealing with a cottage, your furniture must be in the right proportions so as not to overwhelm the space or make it look too crowded,” she says. With the abundance of prints, colors and furniture, balance is essential. Amal took special care to make sure that each room had just enough color and pattern to complement each other.
OUT OF THE BLUE
“This cottage was made for this youthful, preppy look and reflects the fun and cheerful personality of the homeowners,” Amal says. Her first question? What do they want to feel when they walk through the doors? “The second thing is to find inspiration for the project’s direction—sometimes it’s a fabric or art, and sometimes it stems from a collection or love of the client,” Amal says. When starting with a clean slate and an empty house, it can be a simple item that sparks the décor for an entire home. Inspiration for a style can come from anywhere—a sentimental item you can’t do without, a vintage collection you forgot you had or really anything. In this case, it was a vintage set of prints that inspired the red, white and blue color palette.
“Throughout the house I have repeated a thread of blue, in different hues, but they all relate to each other and give the home a cohesive flow,” Amal says. From the small blue accents of vases and bedroom décor to large furniture, the color flows seamlessly in each room. The shades of blue as well as the monogrammed pillows add a preppy feel. Amal also incorporated red lamps, pillows and trim, to mix classic country with a hint of Americana. Amal says, “The simple white-and-blue bedding provides a relief from the chintz walls and makes the room more restful.” For this cottage, choosing whimsical colors in the rooms made the home happier. The colors create a vintage look without taking away from the fresh details in the home.
In the common rooms, Amal played with prints through the furnishings and wall art, while the bedrooms embody prints in the wallpaper patterns. “Wallpaper is experiencing something of a revival … compared to fabric or furniture, wallpaper is a really cost-effective way to make a design statement,” Amal says. Experimentation with patterns is what gives this cottage its classic look. Playful geometrics and romantic florals imbue the rooms with a traditional country style that makes them feel timeless.
Throughout time, monograms have been a symbol of status, so a monogrammed piece can instantly elevate the elegance of a room. Amal’s goal with monograms was to give the home a preppy, chic look while complementing the wallpaper in a subtle way. Monograms can also personalize the space for homeowners. For this family, the cottage is not their full-time living space, so the feeling of “home” sometimes gets lost. Monogrammed décor can increase the family’s sense of ownership and comfort when they are relaxing on the island.
“I think wallpaper, cheerful colors and bamboo all work well in a cottage and lend a casual, easy-to-live-in air that I love about cottage style,” Amal says. The cheery, summery feel comes from the blue and red accents, while the bamboo provides a unique twist on the décor. Amal says, “Bamboo, both new and vintage, is a great way to give warmth to a room and prevent it from becoming too stuffy and formal.” Its vintage look comes from the 18th-century Chippendale pattern of the chairs. Also bamboo furnishings were all the rage in the 1940s, and this era is experiencing a revival in styles all across the board. Combined with the wall art and brass fixtures, many of the rooms are reminiscent of tropical British colonial style.
A major aspect of this décor is the abundance of greenery. Plants can make any space, whether traditional or fresh and modern, feel inviting. There are plants for every style, and they transform the space from simple to thoughtful. “Here we incorporated several easy-care plants that even the most black-thumbed person among us can keep alive,” Amal says. In this cottage specifically, the greenery really plays off the other elements of the home. The plants complement the bamboo furnishings, making the home feel almost tropical, while planters and vases flow through the wallpaper patterns and color palette.
This home balances vintage pieces with a classic look and the home’s modern features. “I love to mix vintage, modern and antique pieces together to create a timeless, youthful feeling,” Amal says. While the kitchen includes new appliances, the all-white materials direct your eye toward the vintage furnishings, which balances the space. “Among the most important things to consider when mixing old and new pieces is how shapes, scale and materials work together and are repeated,” Amal says. The kitchen table is the perfect example of how repeating patterns can help two different styles mix. Adorning the modern tulip table with bamboo patterns and textures brings those two contrasting styles together through a similar color palette and the repetition of circular shapes. If you’re in love with two different styles, you don’t always have to choose between the two. Mix modern with vintage by picking pieces with similar shapes and colors.
“I think the most important aspect of design is comfort. While things can always be made to look pretty, they also need to work and be a boon to your day-to-day living,” Amal says. After all, this cottage is all about relaxation and escaping the fast-paced living of the city.
The cottage is full of eaves and small nooks that give it a lot of charm, but these features can also make a home difficult to design. Amal chose a nondirectional wallpaper to disguise the eaves, and used dark wood and bamboo to contrast with the...
This vignette shows how important all the patterns and colors are in creating the look. Amal chose the blue furnishings to match the clients’ collection of vintage prints.