LI Designers Solve Tricky Design Obstacles

Design has a way of changing how we live in our homes. Aesthetics are important, but that’s only the beginning. Most homes (like a shirt purchased off the rack) cover the basics: walls, a roof and floors. It’s workable, but not extraordinary. A designer, like an attentive tailor, makes a house a home by adjusting it to custom fit its owners.

For this year’s Great How-To, we reached out to designers from across Long Island to find out about their successes. There was one vital criterion: show us how to overcome a particularly tricky design obstacle. The round up of entrants harmonize ideal fits with fashionable forms. In every case—from making the most of a modest floor plan in Westbury to enhancing a home’s interior via its scenic surroundings in Sands Point—these designers changed the way spaces function with beautiful, smart solutions.

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Long Island Designer Gets Bold

Understated Elegance

image: tim williams

image: tim williams

Less is more for the owners of this waterfront craftsman cottage in Sands Point. Ostentatious was not a word in their vocabulary, but incorporating bold color was a defining aesthetic desire. Annette Jaffe’s previous career renovating homes uniquely qualified her to balance elevated interior design while keeping the focus on the home’s traditional structure.

“Interior design lives between the architecture and the inhabitants and your home is an extension of your ego,” said Jaffe, whose eponymously named Port Washington design firm exercises this mantra daily. “The clients kept talking about a white house with a blue door and even a picket fence. We worked with images of classical homes and then pushed them toward their purest form.”

Jaffe’s goal: create a bold color scheme to complement and invite the exterior vistas while maintaining the traditional-style craftsman cottage. The exterior was painted white-on-white to form a clean canvas that didn’t detract from the original, streamlined Long Island Sound views. Inside, planked ceiling and board joints were made to meet one another clean—no grooves were permitted in order to accommodate the home’s original style. The stone fireplaces were cut straight and simple, purposely not mitered.

In the kitchen, dark blues that matched the water views were introduced. The islands are a chalk-toned navy and the upper cabinets over the sink are glass fronts and back. “It’s really the only space in the house where there is any receding color,” she said. “The blues make the room look bigger and bring in the water view.”

Space Maximized

image: rick marder

image: rick marder

Keith Baltimore, of Port Washington-based Baltimore Design Group, has a design theory: “If you want something to disappear, paint it red. If you have a problem in a room, don’t try to make it disappear, draw attention to it and make it a design feature.”

That’s precisely what Baltimore did when he encountered this small, dark room in a Westbury home. A modest-sized, windowless enclosure could be viewed as a disadvantage. Baltimore saw it as an opportune space for a family-friendly home theater.

He maximized the 15 x 24 square foot floor plan by leaving no space between the soundproof walls and the back of the motorized seating. Minimal furnishings pull double duty to avoid over cluttering. Narrow built-ins opposite the seating serve as both speakers and storage for DVDs. Two translucent consoles are a smart storage solution for requisite movie night pillows, blankets and throws.

The clever palette truly defines the space: dark blue velvet walls give the impression of a larger room. “It’s an optical illusion that a dark room appears bigger than a light room because you can’t see where one line ends and another begins.” A celestial mural painted on the recessed ceiling further blurs the lines, creating the illusion of a limitless sky not an enclosed ceiling. The starry pattern draws the eye up and enhances the depth of the space. “If I just painted [the ceiling] dark blue it would have been okay, but the constellations make it feel like you’re under the stars at a drive-in movie.”

Art of Design

image: ann balderston-glynn

image: ann balderston-glynn

An architectural overhaul laid the groundwork for the art-centric design that defines this Glen Cove condo. The challenge was to highlight the homeowner’s expansive collection of Art Deco pieces in an open, yet warm setting. Anne Lombardi and her Upper Brookville-based design firm started from the loft down to achieve the goal.

Lombardi removed a solid sheetrock balustrade that blocked the view from the loft and perpetuated a claustrophobic atmosphere. The result: an open, airy space that laid the backdrop for the artwork to shine.

Lighting and color palette were the guiding factors in the design process. Lombardi installed motorized Kravet sheers that extend around the two exterior walls and continue to the adjoining dining room on a custom stainless steel rod system. The design tempers the amount of light flowing through the large windows and a series of LED lights were added to create mood without damaging the artwork.

Light-colored walls draw attention to the colorful paintings and yellow oak flooring was stained dark to anchor the light and open space. “The palette was very important, we purposely kept it soft. The client desired the space to be in the style of French Deco but updated to today’s lifestyle. The color palette gives the whole home a feeling of serenity.”

cyndi murray

Cyndi Murray is an associate editor at Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email or reach out on Twitter @cyndi_murray