Where New Meets Old
A design team takes an old Victorian home in Larchmont and creates a new mix of classic and modern style a family can love and live in.
This incredible Victorian manor is one of Larchmont’s original summer sea cottages. Built in 1890, it was expanded in 2014 with the help of architect Robert Keller of Keller/Eaton Architects.
Following the expansion, the home features seven bedrooms and five and a half baths, situated on one-third of an acre. It also has perennial English gardens, a wraparound porch, and a two-car garage with an artist’s studio.
The homeowners are an active, young family who always have a full house, so they needed a design that would keep up with them. That meant creating floor plans that flowed well for a busy family and finishes that are durable yet stylish. To create this look and functionality, they enlisted designer Danielle I. Monteverdi of Milieu. The result is like the family’s personality: “a bit quirky, fun, and unpretentious, all while still respecting the bones of the home with its grand architecture,” according to Monteverdi.
The dining room, kitchen, and mudroom turret off the kitchen were added during the 2014 construction. Above those rooms is the master suite, which is also new. “Robert Keller did a stellar job melding the new with the old,” says Monteverdi. “He was able to make the new spaces cohesive with the old and added some [charming] details to the existing rooms.”
Melding the new design for a modern family with the home’s original Victorian charm and character was a “balancing act,” says Monteverdi. “It was important that I didn’t overdesign or fill the house with too much stuff. Every room has some breathing space, which in turn [makes it] more inviting.” The fabric choices and palette are contemporary, and Monteverdi recommended a piece or two for every room that was modern and bold to contrast with the traditional finishes, keeping the home feeling “young and fresh.”
“It was important that the color palette was classic while being current,” says Monteverdi. “I chose colors that were soft and muted. The grays all have taupe undertones to work better with the rich woods in the house and act as a layer and not a standout.”
To go one step further, Monteverdi worked closely with the homeowners to design a mix of modern and traditional pieces throughout the home. “In the dining room we have a very formal and traditional [space], with rich damask walls and dark-painted trim and shutters,” says Monteverdi. “But I knew with a few key modern pieces, we could take this room to a whole new, fantastic level. That’s why I recommended the avant-garde sculptural chandelier to pair with the Milo Baughman dining chairs. I just love how it turned out!”
And like many interior-design projects, this one was done in phases. The first phase for Monteverdi included selecting light fixtures, so she had to have a strong overall vision.
“A mistake that I see often is that homeowners [bring] designers into projects too late,” says Monteverdi. “Every job is very specific and personal, and it takes time to shop for the right pieces and to get to know your client.”
A Home to Live In
It was important for the living spaces to feel warm and welcoming and have a good flow, so the designer worked with the homeowners to create ﬂoor plans that accommodate their lives and a design that mixes comfort and functionality, yet remains in keeping with the character of the older home.
When it comes to decorating your home, Monteverdi says you can ignore the rules, because they’re ever-changing. “The rules in decorating tend to change with the trends, so I don’t like to be strict with guidelines,” she says. “But what is currently working for me is to have a consistent base design. You don’t want a project to look random.”
But Monteverdi does have one major tip that she lives by when designing any space. “Not everything in a room should be screaming for attention; statement pieces are where to invest. Maybe that is the chandelier in a room or the window treatments or the large upholstery items.” Monteverdi goes on to say that sometimes the rug can act as a layer, not a major design element, so an inexpensive, natural-fiber rug can save your budget.
There are three fireplaces on the main floor (in the living room, family room, and dining room). All of the mantels are original, but the tiles are new and add that touch of modern style that the rest of the house has. “For the family room, I used a traditional Victorian pattern that is typically seen on entry floors,” says Monteverdi. “[The black-and-white tiles form] a complicated pattern, and every single tile had to be cut to size. The installer did a fabulous job! For the living room, we didn’t want to detract from the gorgeous original mantel. I chose tiles that have a traditional four-corner pattern [that isn’t] too busy. It feels a bit antiqued.”
In the kitchen, which is truly the heart of this home, the clients did not want to go too trendy. “We needed a look that would stand the test of time,” says Monteverdi. “The key was to simplify.”
The large hood is a statement piece, but it is clean and simple. Clean Shaker cabinets were used, and Diana Regan, who worked on the kitchen, added a dash of modern style with brass pendants over the island.
Tips of the Trade
Interior designer Danielle I. Monteverdi of Milieu shares her tips for creating a stylish and livable home.
Focus on special elements in a room. Not every piece should make a statement. Some pieces have to be supporting characters.
Save money where you can. For example, if a rug acts as a layer, not a major design element, go for a natural-fiber rug to help your budget.
Layer with accessories. You don’t want a project to look random. Use accessories for personality.
Do your research. Window treatments and light fixtures can take up a huge part of your budget, so do your homework and look into retailers that offer stock items.
Stay true to yourself. Design evokes emotion and supports a lifestyle, so stay true to yourself.
Kitchen: Diana Regan of Details and Designs