New York-based designer Emma Beryl was four months into her latest undertaking—revamping a Manhattan rental for a young family with two children—when March 2020 rolled around. "We had finished all the plans and we were about to get bids from contractors when the pandemic hit," says Beryl. Then the city went into lockdown, and the project was put on hold. "At least we weren't under construction yet—it could have been worse!" she admits.
Over the course of the next several months, Beryl's clients wavered between going through with the project or abandoning it for good and moving to the suburbs. "They had just purchased the apartment and were excited to do a renovation on it. They had already been living in the unit for two years but had been renting it, so they were unable to really make it their own," Beryl notes. Ultimately, the promise of suburban life won. "They reached back out to me in late summer 2020 to let me know that they decided to move to the Hamptons full-time and wanted to switch gears," says the designer.
But when the family finally moved into their new suburban digs, "the home just didn't feel like them," says Beryl. "It was dark and heavy," thanks to a bevy of ornate plasterwork and Tuscan finishes. "It was super not their style."
So, Beryl focused on cosmetic changes to evoke the bright, family-friendly feel that attracted them to the suburbs in the first place. "They wanted a place that was going to make the transition from the city to the suburbs extra comfortable," explains Beryl. "So, from day one, our inspiration was Nancy Meyers. We wanted to make it a really warm, comfortable, and inviting family home, where everybody felt comfortable."
And Beryl did precisely that, infusing the home with exactly the sort of fresh, cheerful ambiance they were missing in Manhattan. Now, Beryl effuses, "they are living the cutest family life. They ended up so happy in the Hamptons." Read on to see how she pulled it off.
"This is one of the only spaces in the house that we designated as adults-only," says Beryl. Since the family has a separate, more casual family room meant for movies and games, Beryl's goal for this space was to create a quiet refuge for grownups. "It's supposed to be a relaxing-away-from-the-kids room," she laughs.
Without kids to worry about, the designer took a more formal approach, opting for a muted color palette and more precious materials, like the Kerry Joyce fabric she used to re-cover two oversized reading chairs, which were inherited from the client's grandparents.
"This is a space that looks a lot different from when we started," explains Beryl. "It used to have really ornate plasterwork in here. It was hard to get rid of because somebody had clearly spent a lot of energy, time, and money to put it in, but it just didn't make sense for us."
Instead, Beryl relied on the entrance to establish the tone for the rest of the home. A front door painted in "Hunter Green" by Benjamin Moore adds interest from both within the house and the street, while a rattan bench and vintage coat hanger add timeless warmth. "Our goal there was to set the personality and make you want to see more of the house," she says.
The design of the downstairs powder room was inspired by a mirror the homeowner bought years prior. "She actually owned that mirror for like a million years and never knew how to use it," explains Beryl. "I think it traveled from home to home with her and she actually had never hung it on the wall." Now, the mirror—paired with a Serena & Lily wallcovering in a similar hue—adds a bold pop to the otherwise neutral home. "I always feel like a powder room is kind of the best opportunity to do something that's a little bit crazier."
Situated between the kitchen and family room, "this is one of the main gathering places for the family," Beryl says. The designer had to do so some serious convincing to get the family to even consider replacing their existing table and chairs with the built-in banquette, which now serves as a hub for homework and family dinners. "They didn't want to invest money into a space where things could get destroyed," explains the designer. Luckily, she was able to convince them. To minimize stains and spills, she covered the cushions in indoor-outdoor fabric. She also opted for a reclaimed wood table because "it was already kind of messed up, so if anything else happened to it, it would just add to that look," she says.
For the family's eldest son, Beryl swathed the room in rich, earthy tones. "We kept on calling it 'the professor's room,' because that's really how he acts!" laughs Beryl. "He's seven, but he acts likes he's 50!" Ultimately, "we wanted it to feel true to his personality, but also not too childish so he can grow into it," she says.
Beryl punched up the color in the younger son's room. "He's really into skateboarding, sports, and bright colors," says Beryl. "So in his room, we did a really bright color scheme and gave him a skateboard piece of art. We tried to make it a room that works for a little kid and later, for a teenager."
"It might be hard to tell, but it's actually a really, really big room," explains the designer. "Since our goal was trying to make it feel comfortable, we wanted to make sure that it felt full and usable so that it wasn't just this stark open space." Next to the bed, Beryl added a Caitlin Wilson tufted loveseat to create a separate reading area, plus a rustic bench at the foot of the bed. "They make the space feel a little bit cozier."
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