When I first met my client and saw the lovely timeless pieces she had brought from her much larger home, I knew her new smaller ranch (but not so small) on the North Shore was going to be a perfect transition. Our firm was brought in at the end of a long arduous renovation which required wall removals, total electrical rewiring, and new kitchen and bath redo’s.
The size was perfect for her transitioning lifestyle – comfortable and spacious enough for her and her rescue dogs and ample for her visiting children and grandchildren. The big change in this 72 year old home was the removal of the wall between the kitchen and sun porch to create an open area to accommodate a large kitchen table and cozy seating space. A wall of windows as well as doorway to the backyard let in light and a lovely view which made this a perfect spot for informal dining, reading and relaxing.
The kitchen bar and seating side of the now “open plan” kitchen faced the TV watching part of the family room. The fireplace and bookshelves welcomed a symmetrical seating area and made this whole side of the house work so well for family gatherings and casual entertaining.
But – there’s more – we next enter a formal dining room, just large enough for small dinner parties (and perfect for her existing dining room furniture) and a more formal living room with yet another fireplace. We were able to join her lovely Sheraton end tables, server and ginger jar lamps with timeless and comfortable seating and a chinoiserie bar from Classic Galleries along with a La Barge cocktail table from Uniquely Natalie, our quality consignment store, and placed them on one of Peykar’s special area rugs.
As we walk to the far end of the home, we encounter three bedrooms and a bathroom. We opted to keep one an office and turn the other two into guest room and master bedroom. While not large, they each maintained a traditional charm and warmth – providing a lifestyle look our client wished to retain from her former home.
The most fun was accessorizing. Using a combination of her treasured art and collectibles and those from Uniquely Natalie, we created a seamless blend of both to the point where she couldn’t identify what was hers previously!
This highly intelligent and gracious client had this to say about her new home: “Natalie and her talented team of experts especially Sheila and Jack handled the refurbishment of my new home with amazing good taste and skill. I am thrilled to be living in this beautifully decorated space.”
A small ranch with amenities is sometimes the answer for Long Island couples who have adult children and a house that’s too big. In the case of a couple whose children live in Manhattan and visit or sleep over, finding a property with a pool and the right amount of space was a bit challenging. The search ended with this lovely home in a cul-de-sac within walking distance of the town of Huntington where Main Street is THE street for shopping and fun eateries, and a dog walk is in walking distance.
While the property is not large, the exterior is well planned and a swimming pool, which is used every day in summer weather, is nestled in a corner of the backyard. At the initial visit with my client, it was clear that there were many positives to the layout. The home had a great flow for entertaining, the master bedroom was well sized, and the rooms were filled with light.
Fortunately, we were able to re-purpose the previous home’s living room rug and draperies, bedroom draperies (with some modification) and kitchen and dining room tables and chairs. Many other items were re-purposed as we created a large den in the basement as well as a guest bedroom, and laundry room, still leaving lots of good storage areas which gave this house a great advantage. While the square footage of this house was smaller than the original, this space was actually larger.
Pulling the softer colors from the existing living room rug, we chose pale blues and beige's adding crisp white moldings and bookcases to lighten and brighten the new living room. The floor plan, here, was designed to keep an “open middle” area since it is the major access route to the dining room and den beyond. The dining room just accommodated their treasured antique table and chairs, but its lightened color kept it from becoming overpowering. A pair of antique wrought iron étagères were similarly lightened and mounted to the walls on either side of the entry to the den, freeing up space. The den built-ins helped to keep furniture to a minimum, yet allowed for ample seating for the family and room for “pull-up” chairs when needed. This wall unit includes bar, storage, fireplace and TV all on one wall, leaving room for a good sized sectional under the windows as well as a comfortable recliner.
soft sensual master bedroom with dramatic seating using grays and purples and an unusual area rug make for a lovely hide-away when guests visit or just to enjoy a good night’s sleep. The office for “him” doubles as guest room when the queen size sleeper opens – but most of the time it’s the man cave with collectibles on walls and shelving, his refuge to read and relax or catch up on office work. A functional and artsy bath, while not large, is fine for kids and company and the kitchen boasts a lovely view of the backyard and easy access to the outdoor barbecue.
Using new furnishing and accessories well scaled to the space, combined with the best of the former residence, a functional, bright and cheery home was created proving that well planned downsizing can still fill every family need.
“When we decided to downsize, we knew that Natalie and her team were the perfect design professionals to assist us in our quest to preserve some of our treasured family possessions while adding new items to update and complete our home. We have not been disappointed. Our new residence is open and spacious and is a wonderful place to begin the next phase of our lives.”
Also available in the June/July 2016 issue of HOUSE Magazine.
One of the most interesting and challenging projects I have worked on is a 13,000 square foot north shore waterfront home whose owner has amazing eclectic taste. He’s traveled the world, his interests are varied, and his passion for his home is unwavering. The main level, with its breathtaking view of Long Island Sound has somewhat defined areas – master suite with fabulous bath and closets, guest rooms and huge dining room, kitchen and family room, off which is an indoor pool and spa. A second floor hideaway encompasses a movie theater with a medieval theme and a paneled library, along with additional guest rooms. Integrating his many collections in these large spaces was a fun and challenging endeavor where scale and proportion of furniture was critical. The lower level, however, was even more exciting, because it was a clean slate. Whatever we imagined could be possible. Fortunately, my imagination and his concept of a fabulous home “get-away” were in sync with the artifacts and collectibles he had amassed. So what about a home gym? Great! How about a walk- in 2000 bottle wine cellar with outside sampling area? Terrific! What about a cozy gathering spot by the fireplace to enjoy a glass of wine, enjoy a game of billiards and surround yourself with African art? Wonderful! And would you be interested in a museum like glass walled ecology area for still more collectibles leading to a café that resembles an old fashioned ice cream parlor as well as an arcade of working slot machines? Absolutely!
What more could a designer ask for? With a client whose passion for repurposing translates into his home as well as his business, my shopping experiences with him were in his store rooms. It was most fascinating and challenging for us to find new and unusual ways to repurpose his “finds” and treasures, and along with his vast collections of African, Asian and Medieval artifacts came an onsite full time work crew which made the job a lot easier. They worked month after month taking “recycling” to the next level.
So…. Is this home just a little over the top? I’ll say! Is it a Natalie Weinstein classic? Perhaps not – but it is definitely the home that makes this client proud and happy, a fun place for family and friends.
Clearly, this project was a growing experience as well as a challenge for me and my staff. We’ve had “larger than life” homes and clients in the past – but this owner is a “one of a kind”. Yet the collaboration of strong willed client and designer worked – not only once, but twice. (Look for his Florida waterfront apartment in a future HOUSE issue). With mutual respect and good humor, we created a personal space that reflects the man and his vision.
Here’s what he had to say about the experience...
Several years ago I was referred to a South Shore couple by a wonderful client of mine. The assignment was to design a new bedroom for their daughter. The house was fully decorated otherwise and so, despite how fond I had become of the family, I bid them adieu. Still working with the friends who had referred me, I remember remarking that the house had beautiful things in it, but that it was clearly “upside down”. This high ranch although expanded and completely remodeled, was not the ideal layout for a property with such a spectacular water view and back yard.
Fast forward almost a decade, and I receive a call from the homeowners. I discover that while they had been planning to put their home on the market and find one with a more user friendly floor plan, they couldn’t find a better location. Their decision was to level and rebuild on the same site!
With the aid of architect, Al Sutton, a ranch style design with easy access to the fabulous backyard, was created. An exercise room and 2 guest rooms with baths and laundry were added on a second level as well as additional storage. Now the plan worked for this active couple whose family and guests visit often, while they had all their needs met in an ideal location.
"No more upside down house!"
No more “upside down” house! On the main level was now a large dining room and kitchen, a master bedroom wing, office, “summer & winter” dens, a laundry, several bathrooms, a wine room and an impressive entry. The layout was ideal for the property as well as the clients’ lifestyle. The construction and completion took over a year, but the final product reflects the attention to detail and loving care that these clients deserve. The third and final metamorphosis was the charm.
The icing on the cake was the re-design of the outside by Rich Kuri’s RJK Gardens team and his creative architect, Peter Ansalmo. They relocated the pool, added a gazebo with bar and bath, and provided seating areas to take advantage of the spectacular view. The front entry and driveway designs enhanced the beauty of the new architecture without overwhelming it.
Clearly, this couple knew that while redoing their home for the third time might sound strange to others, it was the right thing to do for their needs and wish list. Now they enjoy their home with all the amenities that mean so much to them, inside and out.
Here’s what the clients had to say about their home:
“It was March 4th, 2011, my birthday, when my husband Michael told me he had something to show me. Who would have ever thought it would be blue prints to a new home. We had only built the former house 12 years prior, but from the start, I always knew I wanted something different. We love to entertain and let me tell you….our new house….it was made for entertaining! From the minute you walk through the front door, the open foyer welcomes you into the heart of any Italian home, the kitchen. From here I can look out to the beautiful Great South Bay and into the den where on any given weekend my children, grandchildren and closest friends can be seen hanging out, enjoying the smell of garlic and drinking all of my husband’s good wine. During the week, it’s much more quiet. Michael and I get to enjoy the serenity of the front porch or backyard by ourselves. This house has given us everything we have ever wanted…beautiful living space for us to have fun, relax and just live the life!”
It’s a great feeling to see how people’s lives change as their home does. A lovely couple in Suffolk County, living in a condo community, called for advice. The husband’s elderly parents had recently passed away and the funds from the sale of that home was now theirs. For them, it was a windfall – but not necessarily to be spent on decorating. They were amenable to a feasibility study. Did their condo community warrant a major renovation or just a face lift? How long did they plan to stay in their home? How much money should they allocate from available funds?
The best part of this job for our design team was the confidence and trust these clients placed in our total plan. The proposed renovation consisted of a kitchen and baths redo and a relocation of the master bedroom and closet areas, as well as removing half walls at the stairway and replacing them with an iron bannister and wood railing.
Redefining the space plan to maximize the quality of life was priority, after which the style of furniture and color scheme was determined. Custom built-ins in the living room were the answer to re-orienting the room for better socialization and traffic flow. The one car garage which had previously been turned into a small den now became an office for both husband and wife, as well as a cozy T.V. watching space for their daughter.
We also removed a portion of the wall between the foyer and kitchen and created a seating area/storage island which allowed for a more open feeling in the entry. Additionally, we relocated the upstairs hall bath doorway to fall within the daughter’s bedroom creating a “suite” since the only other bedroom upstairs was the master.
The redesign was extensive, but turned every negative of this unit into a positive. The clients were troopers, living through the construction which was done one floor at a time with good humor and understanding. The end result, despite their pre-knowledge of everything to be done, amazed them. More amazing was the sense of calm and peace that now reigns over this household in the newly organized and redesigned home.
Here's what the clients had to say:
" We were able to see and feel a difference in our home. It became not only a more beautiful space to live in, but became a "greener" space, becoming far more energy efficient by remedying glaring insulation issues and ill-fitting windows that created drafts in various rooms both upstairs and down. After all the extensive renovations, our home is now one of peace and calm. It is truly a dream come true!
Eastern practitioners of Feng Shui say the ideal placement of any residence would have mountains at its back and a river flowing in front. On Long Island that’s not easy, but this couple came close. Locating a beautiful treed property high on a hill with harbor view, they proceeded to negotiate with the owner of a small ranch style home and upon purchase, with our help, created the home of their dreams.
The stately proportions of the new brick three story structure sets the tone for a classic residence filled with unique antique fixtures, one of a kind area rugs, fine furniture and custom cabinetry. Yet while the home speaks elegance, it’s functionality for the family in residence was primary. The upper floor, designed for their teenagers, boasts its own billiard room, guest rooms and media room. The main floor consists of a kitchen, well-proportioned great room, dining room, master bedroom suite, powder room and home office. The lower level, with a three car garage, full basement and professional office wing was created with ample space for work and the many projects this family enjoys together.
Gracious, yet comfortable and practical living was the directive. Warm rich colors were part of the solution. The home was designed to withstand constant use by pets, teenagers, and much entertaining inside and out, yet with cozy spaces for family members to enjoy. And, oh – the view! Every room has the wonders of nature literally at its door or window where the changing seasons of Long Island can be fully appreciated.
Here’s what this couple had to say about their little piece of paradise:
“Natalie worked with us from the earliest architectural plans to the hanging of our last artwork. She was able to incorporate our lifestyle needs and taste into a home that is both functional and beautiful. This truly is the home of our dreams.
Natalie Weinstein, Allied ASID, IDS
Natalie Weinstein, Allied ASID, is an accredited designer, acknowledged business leader, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. Her interior design firm, Natalie Weinstein Design Associates, based in St. James, N.Y. has been creating lifestyle changes in homes, offices and public spaces, decorating for countless clients since 1973. She is also known for her commercial installations, particularly catering facilities, medical offices, as well as car dealerships.
Ask A Designer
Kids & Decorating
Nat's Home Decorating Club
Nat's Total Home Rug Collection