When a top interior designer renovates a weekend house for himself and his family there are no prizes for guessing that it will turn out to be one of the world's best homes.
The home on Shelter Island, just east of New York City, has ocean views, its own jetty and landing stage on the waterfront, plus a generous backyard with mature trees and neat gardens.
The property is an 1870s Victorian home that started as a small cottage and has been expanded over the years. Designer Alfredo Paredes (opens in new tab), who bought the house nine years ago, has restored it inside and out. His sensitive renovations and redesign enhance the aesthetic of the original property. The furnishings – a mix of antiques and newer pieces – create a relaxed, lived-in look that's perfect for a weekend and holiday home.
It was a different story entirely when Alfredo and family first took it on. 'It was in need of repairs – the planting was overgrown and blocking the windows, there was dark trim and dark shutters, and the front porch that had clearly been part of the original design was missing,' says Alfredo. 'In resurrecting it we tried to imagine it in its glory days. Painting everything white gave it the freshness it was lacking, as did stripping back and simplifying the planting.'
Designer Alfredo gives us a tour and talks us through the changes he made.
Before launching his own NY design studio in 2019 Alfredo was Chief Creative Officer at Ralph Lauren for 33 years, designing the brand's spaces, stores and events. For a design veteran like Alfredo with such an eye for detail dining room ideas for his own home came easy. 'We love a round table for entertaining,' says Alfredo. 'The room also functions as a library – one way to ensure the room is in constant use and not just for dinner parties.'
Giving a room a dual purpose like this is a great idea, particularly for rooms that would otherwise only be used occasionally.
The rug is from Sacco, the striking pendant light is by Robert Ogden and the table is from Ralph Lauren Home and paired with vintage chairs.
Kitchen with original charm
The small, simple kitchen layout presented Alfredo with a design dilemma as he considered his kitchen ideas. 'We initially envisioned gutting the kitchen,' he explains, 'but in the end held back, instead changing the counters, lighting, paint and other details to maintain some of the home’s original charm.'
The drawers and cabinetry in this butler’s pantry are all original but, like the kitchen, needed new countertops, lighting, and paint. 'This space was an afterthought when we bought the house and is now an integral part of the kitchen,' says Alfredo.
With a setting as stunning as this, of course you want to maximize opportunities for indoor-outdoor living. Now that it's been restored and has had its striped awning replaced, this covered porch is central to the relaxed holiday mood here. 'When the weather is warm this 12-foot table is where we gather for meals – be it a solo meal or for a crowd of 14,' says Alfredo.
At the other end of the porch is a chilled seating area, with vintage style garden furniture that's in perfect keeping with the historic house. 'All the wicker is collected from Bar Harbor, Maine,' says Alfredo. 'Keeping the upholstery monotone makes it feel updated.'
Living room comforts
Ensuring the house is just as comfortable and cozy in cooler weather as it is in summer, Alfredo's living room ideas were about enhancing the original period details, such as the fireplace. Vintage furnishings and accessories, including an old French floor lamp (behind the armchair) and vintage Persian rug, complete this carefully curated look and add to the sense of history.
'The greens used throughout the house are inspired by a collection of green American pottery,' says Alfredo. 'The painting over the fireplace is by Anne Packard and also inspired the direction of the palette in the room.'
The armchairs are by George Sherlock and have been upholstered in a strong Bennison Fabrics' stripe.
This angle of the living room shows how the room opens onto the restored porch space. Further vintage finds include a coffee table found at Brimfield Flea Market (opens in new tab), which Alfredo says 'proved a great way to open up the room and anchor its somewhat awkward shape', and a corner pedestal and statement planter. The large painting is by Anastasia Egeli.
Hall and stairs
Anyone looking for hallway ideas will surely find inspiration in this interesting space, which invites visitors to linger and admire the space rather than just passing through.
'As a collector I am always on the hunt for unique, low key pieces,' says Alfredo. 'The base of the stairs offered a great spot for this vintage wicker table and also the perfect place for a vintage tree root chair to take on and off shoes.'
The rug runner is from Dash & Albert (opens in new tab)
There is a wealth of bedroom ideas of all kinds to draw on in this home, starting with the primary bedroom. This underwent a dramatic transformation, as Alfredo explains.
'While the balcony was clearly part of the home's original design it had been removed decades before and replaced by a small window,' he explains. 'One of the first things we did was restore this feature and in warm weather the French doors are always open.'
It's hard to imagine why anyone would want to remove such an important and beautiful part of the room's design, and easy to see why Alfredo wished to reinstate it. The room's natural palette echoes the various earth and green tones throughout the house. The throw on the bed is from India.
Bedroom writing nook
This inviting writing table is in one of the guest rooms, painted in Farrow & Ball's Green Blue shade. 'It's a great place to sit and write, with a view over Gardiner’s Bay,' says Alfredo.
Looking for children's room inspiration? Look no further. The rooms Alfredo designed for his son and daughters are full of unusual ideas that appeal to both children and adults alike. The dark walls create a surprisingly restful and serene effect in this bedroom.
'In designing this room we envisioned a space suited for a young sea captain,' says Alfredo of his son's room. 'The dark blue Ralph Lauren wallpaper with a celestial pattern felt just right.'
'We wanted to create a soft space where a child could play and dream. The pale blue floral wallpaper from Ralph Lauren felt Victorian and we loved the counter play between the blues and a touch of pink,' explains Alfredo.
Alfredo has refreshed his elegant 1870s home inside and out, restoring period features such as the balconies, covered porch and awning. The exterior stucco and woodwork have been painted and the previously overgrown gardens tidied up and simplified.
'When we bought the house it did not have a dock. Adding this, cleaning up the landscaping, and replacing the green and white awning to the porch brought the house back to its glory days,' says Alfredo.
Alfredo's latest venture is the Alfredo Paredes Shelter Island Shop, which opens in June 2022, at Ram Design Home (opens in new tab), featuring a selection of the designer's upholstered furniture collection.
Karen is the houses editor for homesandgardens.com and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine, starting to write album reviews just as they switched from vinyl to CD releases. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.
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