Light and Fresh Elegance in Westchester

Although it sure is fun to talk about dazzling, colorful, high gloss rooms, treillaging (is that a verb? It is now!) spaces to within an inch of their lives, and blanketing all the eye can see in zany Chinoiserie prints, it’s important to remind yourself that classic American design can be just as captivating when it’s light and fresh.

This home in Rye, NY – all the way on the northeastern shore of Westchester, before it turns into Connecitcut – by the mother-daughter duo of McGrath II is airy and elegant. The home mixes loads of traditional elements and pieces, yet stays light without resorting to unnecessary cheekiness.

The foyer, in shades of tan, white, cream, and brown, gets an easy perk up from the shots of brass from the light fixtures, blue and white porcelain, and gorgeous green flowers. The woven seagrass basket beneath the marble topped table mixes a casual, natural element in with the more formal furniture.

The warm foyer leads easily into the bright and airy living room. White surroundings let that blue velvet ottoman with bullion fringe sing (ottomans like this always make me think of the ottoman-turned-doggie in Beauty & the Beast, and are therefore excellent).

The living room takes the same neutral creams, whites, and browns of the foyer and adds in blues and greens. Cinderella blue silk drapes on brass rods next to sumptuous green velvet is always going to be a favorite combination of mine.

Even though this formal sitting room is filled with very traditional elements, the white walls, modern art, and striped woven rug do an excellent job contrasting with those classic pieces and give the space a contemporary flair.


The den is warm and cozy without being dark or overwhelming. The tan grasscloth topped with chocolate brown crown moulding, give a nod to a deep, wood paneled library while keeping the space light.

The grasscloth walls provide great texture, and the natural feel contrasts nicely with the geometric rug, and floral draperies. There are several patterns in this room (don’t forget the plaid armchair in the previous picture) and yet it doesn’t read as busy as any way.

The dazzlingly bright sunroom might be my favorite space in the house. Crisp white walls boast French doors with brass hardware and no window treatments at all! That cream, green, and yellow Lee Jofa chintz gracing the pair of armchairs has a relaxed dignity that jazzes up the space without standing out. I love the very Sister Parish-esque move of using rattan furniture inside and those rattan chairs (I think they’re Palecek) are absolutely charming. 

The master bedroom is a lesson in serene civility. The pale, breathy blue of the walls is repeated on the upholstered headboard, and the embroidered loops of the linens. A clean-lined, white, side table is like a subtle minty fresh jolt in an otherwise traditional space. And a swing arm sconce with a little pleated shade is always going to be welcome in my book.

Pale blue drapes (in a floral though this time) on brass rods echo the window treatments in the living room, while stick roman shades add both privacy and a bit of natural texture. The subtle floral of the drapes is matched on the armchairs, ottoman, and old school skirted round table. Again, a delicate, fresh space that’s still filled with very traditional elements.

The ladies of McGrath II did a superb job mixing the traditional with the contemporary in this Westchester home. This home has a sense of layered richness while also being completely light and bright. And even more impressively (and inversely, might I add) the home has a sense of well-edited freshness without being minimal at all. This home shows that classic, preppy, American design can be livable, lovely, and light-hearted without being cheeky or whimsical.