Tammy Scileppi


Home Design Ideas to Help Brighten Your Days With Lively Energy

home design
This kitchen's eat-in area boasts colorful floral draperies, along with whimsical artwork and accessories. Designs by Grunberger Interiors. (Photos by Tim Hill Photography)

As Long Island continues to celebrate its reopening this summer, folks are enjoying outdoor adventures again.

Yet even as the pandemic ebbs locally, it seems that the notion of home as sanctuary – and more – won’t soon be forgotten. So, it’s important to maintain a happy vibe in one’s dwelling, with mood-boosting home design elements and personalized décor. Be fearless! Choose a color palette that speaks to you, let go of that cookie cutter mindset, and zhuzh up those white-on-white neutrals.

Recently chosen as one of 15 Top Interior Designers on Long Island, Claudia Grunberger of Grunberger Interiors, in Great Neck, knows a thing or two about creating uplifting spaces.

“I always love to play with color in a design scheme. I might use it in a subtle, understated manner, or I might be bold and adventurous,” she shares. “It’s amazing what a transformative effect color can have.” 

People are embracing stronger, more vibrant hues in their dwellings, as a way to boost mood and energy.

“The pandemic has had a huge impact on our relationship with our homes and created an increased awareness of how good interior design can improve our quality of living. Our homes need to function like never before,” Grunberger adds. “And, with an upsurge in home sales and renovations, design services are in high demand.”

Now trending

Folks are craving comfort. “Fabrics are soft to the touch and full of texture – boucles [looped or curled yarns], organic linens, cottons, velvets,” Grunberger notes. “Wallpaper has never been more popular: Grasscloths, wood veneers, linen weaves, silks and vinyls come in a full spectrum of colors and add dimension and texture to a room. Bold patterns and digital murals are especially on trend and are a great way to inject some personality to a space.”

She adds, “The latest trends are also geared towards creating a cozy look with curved furnishings, an emphasis on natural materials, like rattan and terrazzo, and light woods (especially oak) for flooring/cabinetry. The gray color story is fading in favor of browns; warmer tones are replacing cooler ones.” 

Blue (especially navy), remains a classic favorite, while a richer, earthy palette is gaining momentum – olive, cinnamon, rust, butterscotch. Painted feature walls in saturated colors can create a stunning focal point.

For a family in Great Neck, Grunberger used cheerful colors everywhere. The kitchen eat-in area boasts colorful floral draperies with coordinating artwork and accessories, adding a whimsical touch. The living room has a Ralph Lauren aesthetic with a warm mix of colors. The golden woven wallpaper is balanced by a traditional Turkish rug in gold, olive, and red. The red onyx fireplace is the perfect choice for the deep wooden paneling and echoes the colors in the silk draperies. The plaid and paisley cushions add visual interest and comfort. 

In the teen’s bedroom, a chartreuse ceiling balances out the somber gray wall, hot pink vinyl headboard and colorful wall art. In the second girl’s room, the designer chose a metallic doggie wallpaper – perfect for her animal-loving client. Teal walls, a bright geometric rug, patterned bedding and pillows, and a refurbished mid-century modern armchair in a houndstooth print with colorful piping complete the look.

More uplifting ideas

Also chosen as one of 15 Top Interior Designers on Long Island, Amy Luria of Luria Design & Style, in Port Washington, says that many clients are looking for interesting textures, light, and lots of color.

In one kitchen project, she used unique tile work on backsplashes and chose white cabinets with paneling. And the island was painted a refreshing blue.

“Lighting is a big thing now; people are more aware of it, as it improves mood,” Luria notes. “And art is big too. People are hanging textured, [3-D] mixed-media artwork on their walls.”

Nowadays, even countertops can feature a color. “I like Cambria a lot; they’re coming out with exciting quartz textures and colors,” she adds. In another kitchen, Luria chose a backsplash with Confetti tiles in a penny-round mosaic.

Donald Altman, a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk and award-winning author of The Mindfulness Code and Simply Mindful, offers wellness tips for working at home. He says, “Place your workspace near a window or where you can have a view of nature or the sky.”

“We need to center and calm ourselves using the tools of our awareness and intentional shaping of our environment. If you work at home, you can create a soothing environment that brings you into the present moment, regulates your emotions, and motivates you.”

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The Latest Home Design Trends of 2021 As Told By Debra Design Group

home design trends
An inviting outdoor oasis is a perfect escape, rain or shine. (Courtesy of Pauline Debra Noel, Principal Designer, Debra Design Group, Hempstead)

Exciting but practical: Find out what’s in store for home design as 2021 unfolds. 

Zillow forecasts that this year will be less about keeping up with the latest style trends, and more about the features that increase our homes’ functionality and comfort – and in some cases, even add value.

For starters, some people are saying “bye-bye” to open floor plans.

“We expect to see a rise in intergenerational living in 2021, as young adults settle in at home and aging parents move in with adult children, sparking a preference for homes with more privacy features and separated living quarters, like backyard cottages, mother-in-law suites and double primary bedrooms,” says Amanda Pendleton, Zillow Home Trends Expert.

This month, another pro – Pauline Debra Noel, CEO and Principal Designer of Debra Design Group in Hempstead – offers Press readers her cool insights on hot trends. She has been helping homeowners reimagine and redesign with Zoom rooms, home offices and gyms, smarter kitchens, fun multifunctional family spaces, and fab home theaters. She says, “The way we design, the materials we use, how we furnish our homes, will forever be altered post-COVID.”

A desire for a home with a dedicated office tops the list of reasons Americans working from home say they would consider a move, according to a Zillow survey. But many homeowners who are staying put choose to revamp instead. Talk about a recent project. Everyone needs a place for fun, exercise, recreation, relaxation. Parents need office space for Zoom meetings. Our clients have asked for it all! Even the smallest space can be converted into an office. That was the case with an Elmont home. Our design partner, Creative Re-Design, turned an 8-by-8 spare bedroom into a gorgeous office for a busy boss lady!

Homecation amenities, like a pool or spa-inspired bathroom, add value and will become even more appealing to families, while smart home technology, like touchless faucets and self-cleaning toilets, will be must-have upgrades that help keep germs at bay, according to Zillow. Share your take on current trends. Everyone is looking for nonpourus materials that are easy to clean, and reduce the likelihood of infection. The main focus has been on using finishes that are antimicrobial. This year, we’re starting to look at metals, stones, and woods that are antimicrobial. While copper, brass, and bronze are hygienic, they also warm up a space much better than the past common (cool) brush or polished nickel. Woods like bamboo, oak, and cork are extremely durable, but they also stop the growth of bacteria. Quartz has been a favorite for a while; demand has dramatically increased because it is one of the most sanitary nonporous stone on the market to date.

Another trend: pocket doors. People still love the open floor plan layout, but with the kitchen island, dining, or coffee tables now becoming the pop-up office, more people are requesting pocket doors, to semi-close off rooms. Also in high demand: motion lighting. The virus can be transmitted through high-touch surfaces like light switches. Therefore, homeowners prefer to install motion switches throughout the home during reconstruction. This trend has added value by being an energy saver.

Intergenerational living is becoming a necessity as young adults and grandparents alike find themselves moving in with family. Have you had more requests for a revamped attic or basement? Basement projects that were being put off for years suddenly have become the priority. Families are cleaning out the basement to now become livable space: a grandparent suite or young adult’s apartment. One Baldwin client actually bought their home based on the guest suite in the attic. They asked us to include the furniture selection and decorating as part of our overall home redesign.

A Zillow survey found that 41 percent of people value a well-equipped kitchen more than ever, due to social distancing recommendations – and to show off their new culinary skills. Are clients asking for special elements in their cucinas? Clients have always asked to take down a wall between the kitchen and the other living spaces to open up the space. But more than ever, they want to add large islands to sit and congregate with family and friends while preparing meals and eating. For a Long Beach client, we added a small island in addition to the existing peninsula, and a tufted velvet high banquette for luxury seating comfort. 

Outdoor retreats are superpopular these days. Any tips? Folks have been adding outdoor heaters; smokeless firepit inserts are a hot item right now. Upgrading your outdoor space can definitely add value to a home. On average, these outdoor features — kitchen, fire pit, gathering areas — can add approximately $5,000 to $10,000 to a home’s value.

Debra Design Group can be reached at 917-940-2772 or debradesigngroup.com.

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Making Your Backyard a Playground For Your Children

Creative Playthings Swing Sets: ‘Limited Only by Your Imagination.’

Every parent knows that getting the kiddos outdoors is crucial, especially since family activities have been limited and educational screen time has become a necessity. That’s why savvy moms and dads are giving a big thumbs up to backyard playgrounds and swing sets.

“There is significant data indicating that time spent outdoors, whether in play, outdoor education, or recreation, can have a real and positive impact on mental and physical well-being,” Constance Scharff, Ph.D., an internationally recognized speaker/author on mental health and addiction recovery, writes in Psychology Today. “These types of experiences can also improve communication and social cues.”


Creative Playthings, one of the most popular manufacturers of swing sets, has been creating fun-filled outdoor experiences for active kids since 1951 and was founded by two elementary school teachers intent on keeping children more active. 

“Long recognized for our superior quality and value, Creative Playthings brand swing sets have been sold by quality national chains and high-quality independent retailers throughout the U.S. [including Long Island] and abroad. Every Premium Pine swing set is built by hand at our factory in Emporia, Virginia,” notes Senior Graphic Designer Steve Krikorian of Creative Playthings, which has its corporate headquarters in Framingham, Mass.

“Now more than ever, we are proud to keep more American kids playing and more Americans working.” 


Krikorian adds: “When you buy a Creative Playthings wooden swing set or accessory, you’ll find out why we’re one of the oldest, largest, and most respected names in the swing set industry.” 

The difference is in the details: steel reinforcement plates in swing sets, the nylon bushings swing wide steps installed at the right angle for easy climbing, and many other innovations that have become standard equipment on nearly all quality wooden swing sets made today. The company is also working to find new coatings that make ladder rungs more slip resistant.

Krikorian says the company stands behind each high-quality wooden swing set and supports customers every step of the way, from creating the best swing set configuration for your kids, your budget, and your backyard to complete installation.

Local dealer Wood Kingdom West, in Farmingdale, and its sister company, Backyard Solutions, in Medford have been serving Long Island and the tristate area for 30-plus years. They offer quality swing sets, trampolines and basketball hoops as well as wood sheds, gazebos, pool houses, pavilions, and many other great quality indoor/outdoor products from the industry’s best manufacturers.

“For many children, a backyard playground or swing set is a dream come true. An outdoor playset gives them the opportunity to explore, learn and improve physical skills on a daily basis, without ever leaving home, which in turn was critical during the pandemic,” says owner Jamie Maceroni.

“As they learn and play, they are expending energy and making memories on the swings, slide, tire swing, rock-climbing wall, and other activities. We have playsets of all sizes, colors, and material, and we highly recommend making it a fun family activity by shopping online at woodkingdomwest.com to customize the perfect swing set for your family!”  

Due to an uptick in Swing Kingdom PVC swing set sales in the past few years, a custom design feature was added to the website, so families can design the set of their dreams right from home. Springfree and AlleyOOP Trampolines are always a year-round favorite, as well as First Team Basketball hoops. (Swing sets start at $999; trampolines: $899 – $3,000. (Special financing available for all products).


“Playgrounds and parks are vital to our local communities. It fosters socialization, exercise, overcoming fears and challenges, among many other benefits [for kids],” says Sal Romanello, owner of PlaySafe Recreational & Aquatic Designs, Inc. in Syosset. It typically services commercial clients, i.e., schools and municipalities, but on occasion, has served residential homes that have large properties and budgets.

He adds: “Since Covid has come into our lives, I believe it has exposed the need for more outdoor spaces. It’s important that local and state governments recognize this and utilize federal and state resources to enhance outdoor exercise capabilities. Also, more and more municipalities are investing their monies towards water spray parks and creating ‘destination’ places for local communities to gather and play.”

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Interior Designer Shares Home Trends for the New Year

home trends
Interiors by Just Design Courtesy of Robyn Baumgarten.

The times they are a-changin’ …

In this enlightening and informative interview with Robyn Baumgarten of Interiors by Just Design of Woodbury and Manhasset, the seasoned interior discusses changing trends for 2021 and shares her unique perspective on all things home design …’cause there’s no place like home.

Despite the pandemic, she continues to safely meet with clients and help them reimagine their spaces to fit their families’ changing lifestyles. 

Can you give readers a glimpse into your recent design projects? A unique project, in Old Westbury, was designed around the visual idea of art and how it can impact overall design. Having a bold, one-of-a-kind art piece as the focal point lays the groundwork from which the remainder of the design follows. Adding artwork is one of the most versatile and crucial design elements; without it, a space will seem empty and lifeless. My secret? I use proper scale within the space and select works that my clients truly love.

In a more challenging project, in Old Brookville, custom mahogany wood panels were created and mounted on the existing stone fireplace, surrounded by beige limestone. The impact of the reveal was dramatic, showcasing a more contemporary, updated home.

What do you foresee as trends for 2021? Can we expect a natural aesthetic and a rise in minimalism, or perhaps, the opposite? I predict there will be an abundance of nature-inspired hues with a sense of calm. There has been more of a demand for warmer-toned palettes and rich accent colors, further noted with the important colors of the year: Sherwin-Williams’ Urban Bronze and Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal. 

Minimalism has been trending as clients prefer a sleeker look in bold monochromatic such as cobalt blue, Kelly green, and even black painted doors and molding, while the whites, grays, and taupes are becoming dated. Oversized hardware pulls and integrated hardware in kitchen design are not only user-friendly but add to the minimalistic feel of a space. 

Geometric prints are out, replaced with more feminine, organic florals. Clients are looking for an ease in their day-to-day life and prefer more environmentally friendly design solutions, like updated fireplaces, which are easy to install, while giving the same beautiful warmth to a finished space.

As the home takes front and center, which trends have evolved? People have been starting a lot of new projects; they look around and see that their design aesthetic has gotten stale! The most popular trends: creating/updating a comfortable, inspiring, functional home office, and enjoying great outdoor spaces. Homeowners are revamping patios with fire pits, pergolas, etc. Indoor/outdoor performance fabrics have also become popular. 

Will classic, traditional style continue to be a favorite? Talk about the resurgence of 1980s home décor. Traditional will always be timeless but we are seeing a trend toward eclectic style, i.e., mixing a few styles in a cohesive way. 1980s home décor has elements that are timeless (bold pops of color), and still readily available and sourced today: Lucite furniture frames, brass accents. When these pieces are added, paired with more contemporary designs, they create a fresh new look.

How do you balance form and function? The most important design aspect is the function of a space. Everything else will develop from there in a logical sequence, creating form and beauty. Tip: Adding a round area rug that plays off a curvilinear window, along with a round sofa and a piano, creates a consistency of form throughout.

Details like throw pillows, artwork, and decorative accessories only exist to tie a space together visually and to create ambiance. The space planning, furniture selection, and window treatments, must function properly while looking beautiful.

What are your clients asking for these days? Regardless of age, all my clients are looking for the same thing – a design that is timeless. Millennials are looking for a more simplistic, low-maintenance design, which is why I often suggest upholstering furniture in performance fabrics, such as Crypton Home; Kravet Inc. offers a wide variety, including Crypton, KravetArmor, and more.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Consider hiring a professional to guide you through the process. There are so many options available in today’s market that it can be overwhelming without proper education and knowledge. Interior designers also have access to quality brands and manufacturers that cannot be sourced by the general public. Having a long, working relationship with these vendors ensures reliability and quality of product. 

Designers help clients visualize a finished space by providing floor plans and mood boards, while working within the parameters of their client’s budget. A referral from a happy client is one of the best leads in generating business for many designers, and I am always thrilled to share these experiences with potential clients.

Interiors by Just Design, 217 Woodbury Rd., Suite 63, Woodbury, 516-470-0861, interiorsbyjustdesign.com

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Home Design As Told By Your Zodiac Sign

Zodiac signs can drive home decor preferences. For example, Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn gravitate toward muted tones and earthy colors. (Getty Images)

Each of the 12 zodiac signs, from Aries to Pisces, say a lot about someone’s personality, attitude, and even style preferences. 

On Long Island and beyond, some homeowners are looking to the stars for zodiac-inspired décor ideas that reflect their own special mojo.

“Each sign has its own strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes — especially when it comes to home design,” writes Camryn Rabideau for marthastewart.com. “Lucky colors associated with the Aquarius sign include calm, serene hues like blues and grays. You can incorporate these colors into your living room (or really any other room) through a new wall color, a chic couch, or even a few accent decorations.” 

Focusing on one’s abode, especially these days, is a great way to escape the craziness outside your front door.


Affectionate, kindhearted, adventurous Geminis (May 21 – June 21) seem to gravitate toward green, the color of nature and creativity and their numero uno personality hue.  But red, pink, and white can also be associated with that sign, and some astrologers say their “darker side” may be represented in the black of Gemini’s color palette. 

Visualize a refreshing, deep emerald green in a sofa, accent chair, or featured within a rug design for a fabulous look. Or how about a lot of greenery, as a more subtle alternative?

Hey Scorpios! A subdued style and classic furniture may work best for your spaces. Just add invigorating pops of red-orange or rust that represent your gung-ho attitude and passion. 

Generous, optimistic Sagittarians may wish to explore pink and purple shades for their home interiors.


With their lifestyle-centered approach, New York City-based astrologers Ophira and Tali Edut, aka the AstroTwins, reach millions worldwide through their accurate predictions and practical, empowering horoscopes. 

Noting that the zodiac is divided into four elements – water, fire, earth, and air – Ophira Edut explains how your astrological sign can translate into personalized decorating and color choices.

“Each element has different colors, energies and styles associated with it. Different styles suit the vibration of each zodiac sign and its element, so they might feel more at home in decor that resonates with them,” she notes.

“For example, fire signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius) are active and may prefer more saturated colors and patterns with a global influence. Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) have more classic energy and might gravitate toward muted tones, earthy colors (beiges, caramel, oxblood) and traditional textiles or materials (leather, wood). These generalizations get even more specific when you do a person’s entire chart and look at the placements of all of the planets. The birth chart is a blueprint of each person’s unique personality. Décor can be tailored to that!”


Each of the five elements of feng shui, the ancient Chinese method of creating a harmonious environment, is associated with a different region of a home or room. 

“We have a new course called Home Reset that combines feng shui and astrology, that teaches people which colors, shapes, and placement of their furniture and décor will bring positive energy into the home,” Edut offers. “If your home isn’t feeling like the haven it could be, don’t despair! Our Home Decor Horoscopes reveal how to adorn your abode according to your sun sign.” 


Zodiac lovers can easily enhance their dwellings with eye-catching items like personalized horoscope cushions and candles, astrology figurines, customized constellation blankets, celestial wall art and tapestry, and more.

Thinking about bringing your zodiac style into your next interior design project? 

Well, it’s all about crafting your own visual story, according to design pro Kati Curtis, whose Gotham-based firm, Kati Curtis Design, specializes in classic design with a global influence. KCD crafts visual stories that become signature surroundings. 

“I’m a Pisces, so you’ll definitely see a water element in my work. I tend to gravitate towards blues and greens and the sandy colors of the beach,” Curtis shares. “Pisces tend to be dreamers, so much of my design work has a dreamlike quality to it.” 

She adds: “I love to use wallpapers to create magical spaces that provide a serene respite from the world outside for my clients. Reality can be harsh these days, and like a true Piscean, I want our clients to have a home they can escape to.”

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What Sheltering in Place Taught Us About Home Design

Balancing telecommuting and remote learning requires reimagining home design. (Getty Images)

Shelter has taken on a whole new meaning as everyday life evolves into a different normal, with changing expectations for what one’s home can and should be.

So, what has sheltering in place taught us and how has it transformed our personal spaces? As folks started seeing their dwellings in a different light, lessons were learned along the way about the power of resourcefulness and creativity through DIY projects on a budget, using space more efficiently, the importance of bringing the outdoors in, and more.

“Home became a necessary refuge,” says Jennifer Lock Oman, LISW, BCD, a Des Moines-based psychotherapist with more than 30 years of experience. “The spotlight has also turned to home in terms of functionality and design.”

A Zillow survey found that after spending more time stuck at home, one of the top reasons for considering a move is to get a place with more rooms. And, as people continue to work from home and start online schooling, more private spaces will be needed.

“Rooms have been repurposed,” Oman says. “I hear about a lot of people finishing basements or repainting rooms to create added space or a much-needed sense of comfort and coziness. Putting energy into being home-focused in this way also provides some sense of well-being and agency where there is little of those feelings to be found in the greater world right now.”

Designers and architects have been busy rethinking (pandemic-driven) home design and coming up with great ideas and solutions.

“With so much uncertainty, the importance of home as one constant has heightened,” Oman adds. “When the world feels overwhelming, retreating to what we know is a basic instinct, not just a COVID-mandated necessity.”


Think fluid and multifunctional spaces. Living rooms that transition into work, study, play, exercise/yoga areas or ”stations” for busy families; changes to the “home office” idea, i.e. mudrooms that serve as a temporary office space; adding/upgrading guest bedrooms. Flexibility is key in limited quarters, so a dining room table can become a workspace with flexible partitions.

“While open floor plans soared in popularity in the last few decades, there’s a lack of privacy that comes with these open spaces, and sheltering at home emphasized for many a loss of quiet spaces to work, reflect, and take a break from the chaos of life,” says Haley Johnson, communications coordinator of the real estate and rental marketplace Zillow. 


While New York City apartment dwellers yearned for design elements that merged indoor with outdoor living, i.e.  sunrooms, rooftop terraces/gardens, lots of greenery, Long Island homeowners turned patios and backyards into tranquil sanctuaries.

“This pandemic serves to remind us how important our houses are to our daily well-being,” Vicki Yuan, associate at Lake|Flato Architects, told design and architecture platform Dwell.com. “We delight in natural daylighting, quality materials, healthy indoor air quality, and access to livable outdoor spaces. In many ways, this analog moment is a return to simple living, and in designing future homes, we will think more about what is essential to the experience of how we want to live.”


Thoughtful design and retrofitting homes with technology offer new ways to conserve energy with projects that incorporate solar panels, battery-charging stations, and air filtration systems.

“As the pandemic emphasized the need to keep our homes as clean and germ free as possible, smart home features like touchless faucets, bidets, and self-cleaning toilets will start to become increasingly popular to help maintain a safe and healthy home,” Johnson says.

“Life will be much different on the other side of this,” says Oman. “But a definite constant will be the value most of us place on ‘home’ and what that means both practically and emotionally.”

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Home Spaces Reimagined Due To Pandemic

Sheltering in place has inspired many homeowners on Long Island to reimagine and improve the look and function of their dwellings.

When people have lots of time on their hands, they tend to get creative. 

That has certainly been true during the pandemic when DIY projects have become super popular, with home improvement stores seeing a boost in sales. Sheltering in place has inspired many homeowners on Long Island to reimagine and improve the look and function of their dwellings. 

Working from home and remote learning have meant that families have had to create dedicated spaces in a jiffy, while some parents have been busy repurposing rooms, attics, and basements for their grown kids, who were suddenly leaving college dorms and city pads and moving back home. 

According to a recent survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. homeowners on Houzz, 70 percent reported reported they were thinking about making changes that could help them enjoy their homes more. Outdoor, bathroom, and kitchen projects topped the wish list.

Here’s what design pros have been doing to help homeowners out during the pandemic. 


Haley Johnson, communications coordinator at real estate marketplace Zillow, points out that the pandemic emphasized the importance of keeping germs away from the main spaces of your home. 

“Consider upgrading your bathroom or kitchen with a touchless faucet to limit the amount of areas your family and guests are touching,” she suggests. “Plus, a nice, new faucet can add style to a bathroom or kitchen alike.”

Builders are also considering how coronavirus will drive building decisions in the future. 

“Staying at home emphasized there were not enough quiet spaces to work, and we might start to see the once-popular open floor plans change in favor of more privacy, adding in more doors to separate rooms,” she explains. “As people are working from home now, there needs to be space to accommodate. However, you can also have the best of both worlds by adding barn door features to give yourself privacy when needed, while still preserving the open-concept space.”


During quarantine, folks craved spending time outdoors and quickly learned how to transform any backyard or patio space, no matter how small or boring, into a lovely oasis. And now, it’s a hot trend. 

“It’s no surprise outdoor space is the top reason people would consider a move due to social distancing recommendations,” Haley says. “Spend this time sprucing up your yard by landscaping, adding a firepit, and overall making your outdoor spaces a cozy getaway you can enjoy safely.”

Design pros Jen Fox and Tonia Omeltchenko of LI-based Fox + Chenko touted some recent “pandemic-friendly” projects that have made a huge difference in their clients’ lives. In one, a multi-seasonal, screened outdoor living space with direct access to the backyard added sizable square footage to a family’s Port Washington residence. 

Careful space planning and selection of all-weather performance furnishings and lighting created both lounging and dining zones. In chillier months, heat from the natural stone gas fireplace will warm the room, while in nicer weather, framed screen windows and an oversized driftwood ceiling fan allow for ultimate cooling and airflow.  

A combination of pendant and sconce light fixtures adds style and function. Tall outdoor lanterns, patterned decorative pillows, a colorful textured area rug, and lush greenery add a relaxed ambiance to this nature-inspired refuge.


In another project, a new home office doubles as a guest room for a client in Great Neck.

“Not only does the user need a proper space for a laptop and cell phone, but other factors, like how quiet the area is for a phone call, how well-positioned the space is to WiFi, or what the background for a Zoom call is, has to be considered,” says Omeltchenko.

“The desk area has to be organized and have storage space,” she adds. “The bed – usually a pullout sofa – should have a comfortable mattress and be easy to operate.”

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17th Century Nissequogue Colonial Built For Smithtown Founder’s Grandson Asks $2.4M

You can’t judge a book by its cover, or for that matter, an intriguing waterfront country house wrapped in layers of history, that can use a good dose of TLC.

In the market for a slice of old-world Americana? Look no further than this rare colonial charmer, which started out as a homestead back in the 17th century and embodies more than five generations of close-knit family ownership at 30 Smith Lane in Nissequogue. For passionate historic home lovers, it’s a rare opportunity to put your stamp on a beautiful estate near the edge of Stony Brook Harbor. 

“The home is on 19 waterfront acres [embellished with ancient specimen plantings] in the tranquil Village of Nissequogue,” notes listing agent Mickey Conlon of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. 

“Originally built in 1687 for Ebenezer Smith, the grandson of Smithtown’s patentee Richard ‘Bull’ Smith, the home has been in the Smith family for over 300 years, only briefly changing hands when the Dixons [Mr. and Mrs. William H. Dixon] purchased the house in 1924 and engaged architect Archibald Brown to supervise its renovation,” Conlon adds. “It returned to the Smith family in 1970 when Malcolm E. Smith Jr. purchased the estate back from the Dixon family.”

The house and property are being sold for $2,495,000 by the estate of Malcolm E. Smith Jr., who was a direct descendant of Smithtown’s founder, serving as trustee of the Village of Nissequogue, and later as its mayor. 

As Ebenezer’s family grew, his dad, Richard Smith II, expanded the original homestead and added a larger dwelling sometime between 1712 and 1742, according to Colonel Rockwell’s Scra-pbook.  

“It was an example of architectural progression in this burgeoning community, whose homes still lacked flourishes such as dormers and welcoming porches,” writes Kyle Marshall in his new book Americana: Farmhouses and Manors of Long Island. “Within a few decades the main section was again expanded to a full five-bay length, bookended by the original chimney stack and a new eastern chimney.”

During the 19th century, a wraparound porch provided a wonderful spot to take in views of the shimmering bay. All else stayed the same until the house was purchased by Dixon, who sought a smart Long Island farmhouse which would echo the style of the island’s colonial-era homestead houses, favoring gentility and economy in equal measure, according to the book.

“He commissioned Peabody, Wilson & Brown to discreetly insert modern conveniences and light Colonial Revival flourishes. The involvement of practicing architects, rather than talented builders or gentlemen designers, was a fairly new phenomenon on the island,” Marshall writes, noting that the home’s simplicity and atmosphere guided the architects, who preserved much of the dining room paneling and created a new sitting room while keeping the unusual, charming staircase in the center hall. And the exterior received a full Colonial Revival touch-up; fashionable and practical dormer windows were also added, he continues.

The house is notable for the mellow pine wainscoting and a built-in cupboard with sunburst carving in its domed interior as well as for its romantic location overlooking the harbor, with a distant view of Long Island Sound and the property’s beautiful box bushes and well-kept lawns, according to Colonel Rockwell’s Scrap-book.

Surprisingly, many of the original details have remained intact, including the great fireplace that was the heart of the oldest part of the house, the dining room paneling, and the hearth and bread oven original to the 1687 structure, one of five working fireplaces, according to Conlon. He points out that the home needs a full restoration.

Picture this: At one time, its cozy rooms where families lived and gathered exuded comfort, warmth, and familiarity. Imagine all the antique bric-a-brac on display, those family heirlooms, and practical period furnishings.  

“Its last major renovation was in 1924, and the bathrooms from that period remain, though other upgrades to the plumbing, heating, and electrical systems have been made since,” Conlon says, adding, “The exterior is shingled with period shutters and a cedar shake roof.”

The Tom Postilio & Mickey Conlon Team agree that this special, 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom home — which isn’t far from the main drag — is a true find.

“Nissequogue and its sister village, Head of the Harbor, are conveniently located near the quaint hamlet of St. James, where a variety of charming boutiques and superb restaurants are frequented by locals and visitors alike,” Conlon notes. “More mainstream shopping options are available nearby in Smithtown, and the Smith Haven Mall is only a couple of miles outside of town.”

Recreational attractions include the Nissequogue Golf Club, Silver Oak Stable, and St. James General Store. Long Island Macarthur is the closest airport.

“A long road runs through a dense woods, heightening the moment when a small rise opens up to fields and lawn that cascade down to the beach and bay beyond,” Marshall writes. “A graveled lane rolls down this landscape and passes a scattered village of barns, garages and stables before quickly ending in front of the house.” 

Like a great work of art and its noteworthy provenance, the home’s value is greatly enhanced due to its historical significance.

And, with a bit of imagination and hard work, a maverick, design-savvy homeowner with a vision can gradually transform this old house into an inviting showplace, while creating their own family’s legacy.

For more information, contact The Tom Postilio & Mickey Conlon Team – Licensed Associate Real Estate Brokers of Douglas Elliman Real Estate at 212-350-8008, 212-350-8009, 917-224-7177, or 917-543-0005.

How To Integrate The Kiddos Into Grown-up Spaces

Well-lit, wide-open spaces with book shelves and blankets stored in baskets are among some family-friendly interior design ideas. (Getty Images)

It’s a magical time filled with joys and new challenges.

While making happy memories in a new house that may become a growing family’s home, many savvy homeowners are thinking ahead and creating kid-friendly spaces by mixing grown-up design elements with playful additions — but keeping safety in mind. 

“Think five senses — sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste — when you want to create a home that’s inviting and kid friendly,” says Deborah Serani, a Smithtown-based psychologist, award-winning author, and senior professor at Adelphi University. “Using colors, textures and mindful design can invite well-being in the home that will continue for decades.”


Keep it airy and bright. Install an indestructible floor, use easy-to-clean semigloss paint on walls, and think transitional for a growing family’s changing needs.

Local design pros Mary Middlemiss and Nancy LaCalamita of Twice As Nice Interiors made their client’s family room dreams come true. 

“The current space was a cement basement, so we needed to get very creative and keep it fun, and the parents stress free,” says Middlemiss. Sectioning off concept areas added tons of color and a vibrant, fiber-sealed area rug.  “Everything is kid friendly.”

The furniture was fabricated in super-durable, tot- and pet-friendly Crypton fabrics. One section is a stylish room divider that floated from the ceiling and added privacy. This became the art studio/craft area with homework stations. Down the center, they placed a multifunctional gaming table and added pop art portraits of the children to make it feel like it was their own personal space. 

“Our basement is the kids’ favorite area,” says the client, Lisa Farhat of Syosset. “We have a great movie area, an art studio, small gym, bathroom, fantastic laundry room, and plenty of storage. We even have an area for a popcorn machine and mini-fridge.” 


“Painting walls with light jewel-tone hues creates feelings of warmth and comfort,” Serani says. “So does adding a pop of color throughout with sturdy, textured pillows, patterned and easily cleaned throw rugs, framed kid-made pictures, or playful wall décor.”

Be mindful of the flow, creating open space for easy living.

“Studies tell us that clutter-free environments enhance creativity, deepen relaxation, lower blood pressure, and improve well-being,” Serani continues. “Also, light is vital for a healthy home, so bring it in. Choose lightbulbs that aren’t fluorescent, as their harsh light can cause irritability.”

Serani also notes that studies on well-being and design say that having lots of sunlight enhances one’s mental and physical well-being, as does aromatherapy.

 “Choose kid-safe essential oils and diffusers,” she adds, noting that citrus, lavender, vanilla, and cinnamon are very soothing. But candles, stick diffusers, and potpourri aren’t safe for tots.


Having a designated playroom is ideal for many families, but when it’s not feasible, parents can create safe play spaces in any area of their home by providing open shelving at their little ones’ heights, says certified school psychologist Jacalyn Bruno, Psy.D., owner of Blue Point-based Child Psychology of Long Island.

“When creating a bedroom for your little ones, make the space safe for them to explore on their own, freely and independently, so you can feel comfortable stepping away for a few moments,” Bruno suggests.

She notes that when everything is within a child’s reach — so there’s no reason for them to attempt to climb or stand on furniture — they will begin to learn responsibility and independence at a very young age. 

Consider a “floor bed,” kid-sized chairs, plastic containers, or colorful play rugs. 

“Have plenty of bookshelves in different areas, sending the message that reading is important,” says Meri Wallace, child and family therapist, Psychology Today blogger, and author of Birth Order Blues and Keys to Parenting Your Four-Year-Old.


Childproof your home early on. Lock doors and cabinets, use baby gates, fence off the pool, and secure TVs and unstable furniture to walls.

“This gives your child the message that curiosity and exploration are acceptable in your home, but they must be done in a safe way,” says Wallace. 

She suggests involving children in decorating their room. It helps them feel responsible and connected to the home. 

Now it’s time to enjoy these spaces that the whole family will love. 

The Beacon at Garvies Point Offers Resort-style Living

An extension of their homes: Residents and guests can enjoy beautifully appointed, welcoming common areas designed by Safavieh.

At The Beacon at Garvies Point, a new luxury community being built in Glen Cove, it’s all about location, location, location.

The community’s developers, Uniondale-based RXR Realty, recently took the Press on a tour of the newly finished units.

“The Beacon at Garvies Point, a resort-style neighborhood in Glen Cove, offers potential buyers the opportunity to live a carefree lifestyle,” says Joseph Graziose, executive vice president of residential development and construction at RXR.

The born-and-bred Glen Cove resident has been a passionate revitalization advocate, and says he’s excited about the city’s transformation.

Conveniently located an hour from Manhattan and the Hamptons and nestled within 56 waterfront acres with sweeping views, The Beacon at Garvies Point boasts 167 LEED-certified, one-, two-, and three-bedroom luxury condominiums, and is the first phase of RXR’s massive development.

“RXR’s total investment in Glen Cove — through the Garvies Point and [downtown] Village Square project — will top over $1 billion,” Graziose says. “From the residential buildings, Harbor Landing (luxury rentals) and The Beacon, the project is bringing together a professional workforce with a commercial and retail component that will enhance the surrounding North Shore communities as well as revitalize Glen Cove’s waterfront. It’s been a labor of love.”

The Beacon’s residents have access to a variety of wonderful outdoor spaces, including courtyard terraces, rooftop terraces at the penthouse level, and outdoor balconies for nearly every home. And there’s private parking.

Another comfy, relaxing spot. This unique library is perfect for reading or meditating.

Units are priced from $700,000 to $3 million.

Experience all that Garvies Point has to offer and enjoy Long Island’s biggest playground with 28 acres of green space, sunset views, and easy access to open waters. Other draws: A one-mile waterfront esplanade with outdoor seating; connectivity to Garvies Point Preserve: a 62-acre wooded nature preserve that offers miles of trails and bike paths, as well as playgrounds, parks, a dog park, boardwalk and beach. And there’s more: an outdoor amphitheater, ecology pier, a platform for arts & entertainment, plus space for Glen Cove community events. Also, great schools and golf courses.

Lucky residents always get what they want and need at The Beacon, say the developers, thanks to a cornucopia of amazing amenities that guests can enjoy as well. That includes a lounge, library, club room, game room, screening room, 24-hour fitness center, yoga room, seasonal outdoor heated swimming pool, 23 rooftop terraces, two outdoor kitchens equipped with Viking grills, fridges, and prep sinks, and direct access to a waterfront esplanade.

“Everything will be taken care of for you, and you get peace of mind with 24-hour security,” says Graziose.

A friendly doorman greets you as you enter an impressive wood and stone lobby leading to spacious, beautifully appointed and welcoming common areas that serve as an extension of your home, providing comfy spots for reading, relaxing, or entertaining guests. There’s even a private meeting room.

Expertly designed by Safavieh and echoing their fabulous décor throughout the three model units (also for sale), these unique spaces feature transitional-style, on-trend furnishings, as well as striking accessories and lighting further enhanced by eye-catching artwork.

These elements are reflected in The Beacon’s open layout units — of which 50 percent or so have been sold (buyers have started moving in) — and in the high-end finishes, such as marble floors and glass-enclosed showers with mosaic floors in the bathrooms and Italian-made Siena custom cabinetry with soft-close and drawers in the kitchens.

Entertain guests in yet another bright and airy gathering space.

“The open-plan gourmet kitchen is designed with chefs’ needs in mind, complete with custom-paneled GE Monogram appliances,” Graziose adds.

Other quality cucina features include durable and stylish Super White natural quartzite countertops, marble mosaic herringbone backsplashes, and oversized Kohler stainless steel sinks. Master bath highlights: soaking tubs, custom Siena wood double vanities, white marble countertops, Kohler undermount sinks, and high-gloss tile wet walls. Units have central A/C and gas stoves, and can offer smart technology.

The development also offers worry-free living with no need to keep up with the maintenance of a larger home, such as landscaping, snow shoveling, repairs, and pool cleaning. And there’s a 24-hour concierge.

Garvies Point’s proximity to the Long Island Rail Road’s Glen Cove station 1.5 miles away and access to Glen Cove’s Ferry Terminal and future ferry commuter service to Manhattan is another big plus. Also, it’s a stone’s throw from Village Square’s restaurants and shops.

“Purchasing at The Beacon is a great investment opportunity because of the lifestyle,” says Graziose. “Whether you are downsizing from a larger residence, to the empty nester whose kids have left the house, or a snowbird who has multiple residences, it is the perfect place to live, eat and play.”

The Beacon at Garvies Point will soon become the go-to waterfront destination for anyone looking for exciting activities and attractions close to home. Are you ready for some adventure?

To visit the sales gallery, visit thebeacongp.com or call 516-399-2301.

Open layouts, fabulous décor, and a view of the patio and pool.