As the decorations are packed up and the long winter looms ahead of us, we start looking towards redesigning things. It’s not such a bad idea. With home values still strong, interest rates high and inventory low, many residents in our area are considering making their current home more suited to their family’s needs with an addition, a remodel or some luxe landscaping. “Consider all your options at the onset of the project,” advises Dinyar Wadia, principal and founder of Wadia Associates, a full-service architectural and design firm in New Canaan, CT. A significant renovation can cost as much or more than a new build, so plan accordingly. Whether you decide to tear it down and start over or make 2024 the year you begin that renovation you’ve been dreaming about, here are 10 home design tips from innovative and creative experts in architecture, interior design and landscape that will enhance any project you tackle this year.
Get the Big Picture First
Whether renovating or building new, look first at how the home is sited or will be sited, in its natural surroundings, says Casandra Byrnes, owner and principal designer at CAB Designs. “I work with scale, texture and color and how those support and enhance architectural elements, and work to elevate the home inside and out to its highest level,” she adds.
Set the Stage
Consider how your home reveals itself to your guests, advises Wadia. It’s helpful to create visuals to understand the experience guests will have visiting your home, from arrival to entry to how they flow from room to room. “The landscape, the trim, the door, all of those things make a difference,” says Wadia. “Decide how you are going to set the stage.”
Connect with Nature
Your interiors and exteriors should flow together seamlessly. “I love bringing natural elements into terraces to warm up linear elements of the architecture and give an organic beauty to the cityscape,” says Antonio Pippo. As the principal designer at Antonio Pippo Interiors, many of his urban clients find it equally important to bring the outdoors in as those in the suburbs like Westchester County, Connecticut and the Hamptons. In this Chelsea penthouse duplex designed by Pippo, the outdoor terraces were designed as an extension of the interiors. “The views out to the terrace make these indoor and outdoor spaces feel very integrated. Garden planters help to delineate the spaces and provide a touch of green to the skyline.”
Many homeowners in the suburbs are returning to naturalism in their landscaping and choosing landscapes that support local animals and insect species. “We are seeing a revival of meadows with beautiful perennial plantings that are layered to create interest that lasts the entire year instead of just a single season,” says Maggie Bridge, partner at Sam Bridge Nursery in Greenwich, CT.. “These meadows are being created in areas where people have excess lawn, open space and even in grassy fields that used to be mowed.” If you take this approach with your landscaping this year, she advises mixing native plants with cultivars of native plants (called Nativars) and some ornamentals. “This creates a beautiful array of plants that will sway in the wind, color the landscape no matter the season and provide food and habitat for local species,” adds Bridge. If you prefer a tidy landscape, use a border of evergreens for coverage in winter and a neat, clean frame for your landscape.
Brighten Up Your Swimming Pool
For years, dark finishes on the floor of a pool have been on trend, but things are lightening up. If you are considering a pool renovation or building new, try a white or light finish. “The feeling is light and playful, almost like being in the Caribbean,” says Rich Granoff, founder and CEO of Granoff Architects, a full-service architectural firm in Greenwich, CT. He recently completed his own pool renovation with a white finish with blue speckles on the interior. The colors play on those of the skyline.
The saying goes, off with the old, on with the new, but that isn’t the case this year. Make 2024 the year you let go of all your pre-conceived notions of “safe” design. “All bets are off now” says Wadia. “We’re seeing a saving of the old and working with it. It’s not so much a teardown society anymore (thankfully). It’s relishing the past with a modern twist. We are a global and cultured people these days.” On that note, be mindful that new interior details matter. Choose custom millwork and casings to create a more elevated look over off-the-shelf trim, and allow your home to have a personality all its own, adds Wadia.
Whether decorating a powder room or redesigning your kitchen and butler’s pantry, you don’t have to keep everything white anymore. Steven Mueller, principal designer at Steven Mueller Architects says blues are back in a big way. In fact, Benjamin Moore just announced Blue Nova is its color of the year for 2024. “The focus has shifted towards colors that infuse a sense of calm into an energetic space and can create an illusion of depth and expansiveness,” says Mueller. Blue is charming and versatile, he adds. It can be classic and modern.
Add a Wine Wall
Wine cellars are moving out of the basement and into living spaces, says Granoff. “As a self-proclaimed wine guy, I love having a wine wall close to where it will be served,” he says. “The bottles and labels are works of art, and people like to view them and comment.” Granoff’s firm customizes the design for each client to complement the home’s interiors and add the proper insulation and equipment to ensure the wine is properly stored.
Go Green with a Solar Roof
While many of us want to do our part in going green at home, the look of unsightly solar panels on the roof have turned many homeowners off from taking the leap to solar power. Enter Tesla. Granoff Architects has decades of experience installing solar panels as discreetly as possible, but Tesla’s Tesla Solar Tile Roof System is a gamechanger. While the product has been out for about five years, they were difficult to source, and it was challenging to find an installer. But recently, Tesla partnered with some national roofing contractors and, Granoff says, it’s making it easier for firms like his to offer this product to their clients: “It is a beautiful product and covers the entire roof of the house with black glass tiles. We are finishing up our first installation and have many more planned on upcoming projects.”
Create an Outdoor Living Room
When designing outdoor gathering spaces, think of them the same way you think of designing your living room, advises Cindy Rinfret principal designer of Rinfret, Ltd., an interior design firm in Greenwich, CT. Design the layout of furniture to make conversation easy. Create focal points with texture and interest in color and perspective. Most importantly, choose a feature element like a beautiful bench, pedestal or fountain. Two considerations clients often forget: how the space looks from the inside of their home looking out, and extending the use and life of their outdoor space by covering it to protect it from the elements. “I love outdoor living rooms,” says Rinfret. “Covered outdoor spaces make for an inspired natural setting to gather.”