It wasn’t quite love at first sight for Alison Stearns, but not far from it. The designer and co-founder of Keough Stearns Interiors found this cottage in Rye, New York while hunting for a new family home. During a viewing, she wandered through its rooms and drank in its picturesque charms. However, concerns ran through her mind. Is this place is too far from where we live now? Can I uproot the kids to a whole new school district? Will I be able to make all the changes I want to this house? Temporarily, the worries and anxieties won over, and Alison chose not to pursue the house further. Fast forward six months, however, and Alison discovered the place was still up for sale. She took another look around and mulled it over some more, before finally deciding to take the plunge.

It is easy to see why she changed her mind. The one-hundred-year-old cottage is situated on a peaceful, tree-dotted street in the quaint little town of Rye. It offers fantastic privacy despite being just a few minutes’ walks from the train station in the town center. The cottage was built in classic Tudor style – a steep roof, huge brick and stone chimney, and lovely little bedrooms tucked away upstairs.  However, what captivated Stearns and stayed with her over those six months was how the light flooded into the home. “It’s deceiving,” she says. “The exterior doesn’t suggest how light and bright it feels inside all day long. In the morning, soft light floods my bedroom and the kitchen, and the evening sunsets at the front of the house.”

Alison knew there was much to do before she could truly be happy in her new home. The building was in dire need of some serious modernizing. The kitchen was confined and restricted, the bathrooms were dated, and the living room was just so far away from what she wanted. However, Alison didn’t start redesigning immediately. In fact, she and her family lived for a number of years in the cottage without changing anything!  Alison explains, “I think an important part of any renovation is taking time to live in a place and discover what’s going to be important to your lifestyle, how you’re going to use each room and how you want to feel when you walk in.”

Once she had conducted enough research and finally felt that she knew what she wanted, Alison got to work. The floor plan and layout of the building’s four levels were redesigned and expanded. Every room was renovated and upgraded in some way. Walls were knocked through to make spaces larger and more suitable for family living as well as for entertaining. The best example of Alison’s work is in the living room. Its primary seating area is inviting and anchored with a soft rug, Lucite coffee table, and stacked design books. Suspended above the coffee table is a twinkling chandelier from Jonathan Adler. The Lucite table is bookended by two classic Barcelona chairs, creating a distinct and sleek midcentury feel in the room.

The second seating area at the other end of the room contains a soft white sofa and two fluffy alpaca-upholstered stools. Under the antique brass and mirror coffee table lays another hide rug. On the wall behind hanging several ornately-framed paintings by Hunt Slonem, an artist famed for his charming and abstract representations of bunny rabbits. Both seating areas managed to feel distinct from yet connected to each other.

As you move into the dining room you are greeted by a gorgeous wood table and antique French armchairs creating an upscale, formal look. Behind stands, a beautiful buffet cabinet fashioned from teak and Sheesham. On the mantelpiece are two lovely silver lamps, and above them hangs a circular metal mirror. The brown and yellow from the mirror matches the dining table and credenza façade respectively.


We are really impressed with the result of Alison’s patience and careful planning. Her home turned out a dream and provides a pleasing contrast to the building’s traditional exterior. Are you looking to transform your place? Contact our designers via to arrange a free consultation.

We drew inspiration for this article from Find the original article here.

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