A young Manhattan couple faced a conundrum when they decamped to the Hudson River Valley after tiring of their crowded weekend Hamptons commute: How could they infuse their chic downtown style into a traditional waterfront cottage and guesthouse where the views are more dramatic than the interiors? Their designer, Sasha Bikoff, knew what she had to do.
“She’s really young, fashion-forward, edgy,” Bikoff says of the wife, an accomplished artist whose abstract paintings now fill the house. “Creative people like to have their own art and style shine through. I saw this home as a backdrop for her personality.” As she began transforming each room and addressing the home’s dark nishes, heavy stone fireplaces and exaggerated moldings, Bikoff remained sensitive to the natural surroundings. “My number one thing in design is that the interiors of the space need to coincide with where the home is,” she says. “This house is on the Hudson River, which you see from every room. It’s serene and tranquil.” Her challenge was layering those references into a design that highlights the wife’s couture-like preferences for metallics, mirrored surfaces, leather and fur.
The most prominent stage for Bikoff ’s efforts is the soaring living room, which looks out to the river through two stories of glass. The designer’s first purchase here was a rug that depicts a stylized streambed in tones of black, gray and white—a fitting anchor for molten-lava-rock coffee tables, DDC’s nubby modern On the Rocks sectional (so named for its sleek take on boulders) and a brass-and-glass chandelier that is a modern interpretation of branches. The ensemble translates nature into the owners’ language of shiny surfaces and decadent textiles, Bikoff explains. “I took everything from the outside and reimagined it for my glamorous clients,” she says.
In similar fashion, Bikoff created a soothing but shimmery background with pearly gray paint on most of the walls as well as lacquered finishes on the kitchen cabinets and massive stone hearths, which would have been too costly and labor-intensive to replace. “I’m a big advocate of repainting and lacquering,” she says. “High gloss looks so fresh and so new.” The white kitchen cabinetry allows the live-edge dining table and woven-hide chairs to make a powerful statement, “which resonates with the woodlands,” the designer says.
Although the clients requested a mostly neutral color scheme, for the family room and nursery Bikoff took cues from the vivid palettes of the wife’s paintings. “I wanted to take it up a notch,” she says. The designer then added shine and texture throughout the house, particularly in the master bedroom. Metallic grass cloth envelops the room, while mirrors hang from chains like earrings over burl-wood nightstands. A custom canopy bed, meanwhile, looks as if it were dipped in brass, and the room’s abstract-patterned rug is woven with metallic threads. “There’s a lot of repeat of the motifs the wife loves,” Bikoff says. “She’s really into jewelry, and she’s all about metals—that’s where her edginess comes from. She loves chrome and brass.”
While those priorities remained top of mind, Bikoff maintained her vigil to invoke nature at every turn. Within a guest room’s taupe palette, for example, she chose wallpaper with an ivy pattern in cool grays. “It’s so dreamy,” she says. “It looks exactly like something you might see if you walked outside.” To add just the right amount of grunge, she incorporated funky globe lamps on side tables with chain-link bases.
Friends and extended family stay in a guesthouse accessed through a window-lined corridor facing the river. Here, Bikoff was inspired by nature’s own palette. She swathed the corridor in a wallpaper that has an angled silver metallic pattern, making the wall look like a silvery rock face, and attached custom glossy green sconces that mimic antlers—a cheeky reference to the local deer population. This transitional space sets the tone for a guest room done in the colors of water and sky and outfitted with brass-trimmed Lucite lamps and sconces, svelte Chieftains chairs, a metallic tree-stump table and a silvery hide bench. It’s all part of Bikoff’s guiding design principle of embracing a home’s surrounding nature—only this time with an edge. “This is a very mod, glam, fresh way of looking at the outdoors,” she says.