Sturdy Style

Fashion meets function in this kid-tested, designer-approved house in Bedford Corners.



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There’s a house in Bedford Corners that isn’t just kid-tested, it’s designer-approved.

Sure, the family room couch is covered with indestructible brick Crypton fabric (pour a cup of juice onto a cushion and the liquid just rolls right off), but the silhouette of the sectional is sleek enough to satisfy any mid-century-modern maven. And although the colorful rug nearby cleverly was chosen in part to hide spills, it’s also the work of British design star Paul Smith.

In this newly built, 8,600-square-foot, cedar shingle-style house, there are no Baccarat vases to break, no crystal candy dishes to send crashing to the floor. “There’s no foofie stuff, no tchotchkes, none of that junk,” says the thirtysomething owner, who works in finance and lives in the comfortably chic quarters with his high school-sweetheart wife, a physician, and their son, three, and daughter, eight months.

But he didn’t just cut out decorative clutter (the foyer, for instance, is barren but for a Rosemary Hallgarten zebra-print rug). He streamlined the interior structure of the five-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath house, nixing beamed ceilings and elaborate wainscoting. The result is an aesthetic that he deems “clean, simple, and modern.” Decorator Kim Freeman rattles off other adjectives: “childproof, livable, informal, colorful, practical, minimal.” She calls the look a combination of Jonathan Adler and Knoll, albeit a Popsicle- friendly one.

Indeed, an Adler rug acquired when the owners still lived in their Murray Hill apartment (they moved from Manhattan into their home during the summer of 2007, after more than two years of design and construction) is what spun off the design of this Bedford Corners property, which sits on just over three acres, says its architect, Ken Andersen, a principal at R.S. Granoff Architects in Greenwich, Connecticut. Their grass-green, brown, and charcoal square-print rug (“they’re all about the dizzy carpets,” says Andersen) set the tone for what the family wanted in their new, much larger space: a fun, unfussy aesthetic.

It’s just about the only piece that survived the move to the suburbs. Now the rug sits in the first-floor office, anchoring a pair of black-framed chairs covered in lime-green Kravet velvet. “I’m really proud of them for going for these colors,” says Freeman, whose firm, Kim Freeman Style & Design, is based in New Castle. “They were willing to do fun, and this is fun in a serious office. It didn’t take coaxing.”

Other pieces, if not Adler per se, are Adler-inspired. The living room’s sleigh chairs are upholstered in one of the designer’s signature color combinations—blue and chocolate—and feature a diamond pattern, of the designer’s trademarks (the fabric is from Quadrille), while the nearby console table from Desiron is finished in classic Adler-style white lacquer. The table is topped with alabaster globe lamps from Oly, but it’s no surprise to find the mantel free of objets d’arts. Although the owner says the room is rarely used, he made sure the furnishings were as relaxed as those in the rest of the house, adding a sheepskin rug from ABC Carpet & Home and a comfy chocolate velvet-and-leather sofa from Profiles in Manhattan.

“There’s nothing worse than not being comfortable in your own house,” he says. The important word for the snugly proportioned room is “soothing,” says Freeman, pointing to the dove-gray Benjamin Moore-painted walls.

“Whimsical,” however, is perhaps a more appropriate way to describe the Knoll-bedecked kitchen. Introduced in 1956, the studio’s legendary Saarinen pedestal table sits by the window. The matriarch grew up in New Jersey with a version of the same piece and surrounded it with Saarinen’s equally iconic Tulip chairs, the molded white fiberglass capped by blue, red, and green cushions. There are additional nods to the 1950s in other corners of the house, including the silver-and-black swirled foil wallpaper from Cole & Son in the powder room and the penny round floor tile in the guest bathroom.

Knoll also bellies up to the zebrano wood-topped kitchen island in the shape of polished chrome barstools with clear, grid-imprinted shells designed by Marco Maran. A third Knoll design pops from the second-floor landing with a Saarinen’s cherry-red Womb chair. Competing with it for throne of the palace: the master bedroom’s baby-blue nailhead lounge chair, which the owner spied during a shopping trip with Freeman to the Kravet showroom in Manhattan. It’s become his prized possession. “It’s the sexiest lounge chair,” Freeman says. “Goodbye, La-Z-Boy!”

 

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