A couple trades the bright lights of the city for a dream house in the suburbs… The story might not be a new one, but designer Kati Curtis gave it a fresh spin with a home that’s as lively as its inhabitants.
The tale began when the pair decided that after years in and around Manhattan, they wanted to put down roots in Westchester County, where the husband’s family lives. When they found an unbuilt lot a stone’s throw from the Rye home he grew up in, they reached out to some old friends: general contractor Joe Lorono and his two sons, Joe Jr. and Frank, who encouraged the couple to seek out a designer.
Enter Kati Curtis, whose exuberant portfolio the wife found online and quickly fell for. After listening to their dreams for an unpretentious forever-home, Curtis came up with a plan for curated spaces where family heirlooms sit side by side with Moroccan tile, and floral wallpapers are balanced with edgy contemporary art—all wrapped in a punchy palette of blues and purples. “The house needed to have a young, fun vibe, but I never want a space to feel totally new,” emphasizes Curtis. “I told them we could mix old and new seamlessly, and it would only add more character.”
The double-height entrance hall sets the tone for the unexpected pairings to come. The husband’s late grandfather was a prodigious collector, and there, a Georgian-style commode that once adorned his home is set against crisp millwork painted a gleaming blue. A cluster of bulbs hangs from the contemporary lamp above, while a turquoise-hued artwork is displayed against a wallpaper featuring large gold blooms on the second-story landing. “The color here had to flow into everywhere else,” explains Curtis.
The cozy den further exemplifies Curtis’ facility with contrasts, as well as the couple’s burgeoning penchant for art collecting. Deep blue walls and cabinetry are juxtaposed with a fire surround of hand-crafted pink tile from Morocco, while floral draperies happily coexist with a wine-colored sofa and a club chair arrayed in a black-backed floral. Meanwhile, Banksy’s Choose Your Weapon looks right at home near a piece by Damien Hirst. “Having all those different elements in one room and having it work is Kati to a T,” says the wife. “There was a little bit of, ‘Really? All in one room?’ But Kati had the vision for how it would all look together.” That the couple acquired the artworks toward the end of the design process makes the finished effect all the more surprising. But the homeowners say Curtis offered her clients no direction other than, “Don’t worry if the art fits into the room. These are pieces that mean something to you.”
If Curtis had one struggle, it was in the main bedroom with its lofty 12-foot ceilings that begged for balance. Her solution: To go big and bold with an overscale floral purple wallpaper, which she tampered with an airy four-poster bed, an antique-inspired rug and graphic draperies.
Though he admits the house has little in common with the custom homes he and his father have built in the area, Joe Lorono Jr. says he welcomed Curtis’s hand. “Kati created a road map, and we got to build an even better product,” he says. “The clients didn’t want a traditional Rye house, and this isn’t one. It has a lot of layers, and each layer has such an impact.”
The couple now find themselves at home more than ever, working in their home office and enjoying walks with their three dogs. Nothing is off limits, and as they look around the house filled with art they love and pieces with provenance, they see a residence they’ll live in for many years to come.
“The house reflects who they are,” says Curtis. “It’s near family and yet they’re still super modern, young city people. There were a few panicked moments when the paint colors were going up, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t push people to go beyond what they think their comfort level is.”