Asia Baker Transforms a Grand Long Island Home Into a Cozy Family Retreat
When Old World Formality and Kid-Friendly Collide
By Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson
April 29, 2021
Asia Baker’s latest project, a 4-bedroom house in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, is a bit of a local legend. Deeded in the home’s contract of sale is an antique wooden Santa Claus and an agreement that whoever buys the house will continue a tradition of attaching Santa to the cupola on the roof come Christmastime.
Baker added warmth to the commanding double height entry-cum-dining room by staining the floors in a rich chocolate hue and painting the walls above the wainscoting a verdant leafy green.Read McKendree
The homeowners—one of whom grew up in the area—aren’t just committed to keeping the Santa tradition going, but to sticking with tradition in the interior design of the house, too. For Baker, this is where the juggling act began: trying to give her clients the traditional look they love, while keeping the architectural integrity of the house intact, and infusing it all with a dose of fun, fitting of a couple with three young kids. “Traditional can sometimes mean boring,” Baker says. “I wanted to keep it fun and friendly. They’ve got young kids, they’re a young family, and they love to entertain, so we tried to keep it refreshing.”
A collection of traditional furniture pieces reimagined in vibrant fabrics would prove to be Baker’s secret sauce, but she first had to create some distinction between each room, a series of almost identical spaces with no unique point of view between them. To start, she revamped the dining room, which doubles as the entryway and acts as the home’s main thoroughfare, connecting the kitchen and family room on one side to the more formal living room on the other. The room’s clerestory staircase, going up and around to the second floor, floods the space with sunlight on both sides.
The house’s formal living room is awash in vibrant jewel tones, from luxe velvets to decorative porcelain lamps—all set against a creamy white backdrop. The curtains are in Ojai Stripe by Schumacher.Read McKendree
Despite its potential, however, the architectural feature wasn’t always as striking. In fact, Baker says the entire room fell flat. Rich dark floors (a perfect match with the 18-seater dining table that came with the house) were once a lighter honey color and, paired with beige walls, did nothing to lend the room any character. “It just felt more like a convention hall than the start of a beautiful house,” Baker says. So she had a decorative painter create a stain on the floor in a beautiful lattice pattern that’s visible the moment you walk through the door. From the clerestory, it reads like a large diamond pattern, according to Baker, and it’s worked wonders to add warmth to the otherwise vast space.
Trellis-covered walls made this airy, bright room into the perfect sunroom. Baker kept the original blue stone flooring and brought in a pair of Gaois table lamps in the same green as the dining room.Read McKendree
A nook on the terrace with a quartet of rattan chairs allows for a sort of indoor-outdoor dining experience when New York’s rainy springs and chilly falls make it less comfortable to entertain outside. The decorative platters on the wall are from Get the Gusto.Read McKendree
Layering on the warmth (and the personality) even more, Baker went with Benjamin Moore’s Deep Jungle for the walls, a bold choice, yes, but the result of many rounds of sampling, no doubt. The deep leafy green would inspire the rest of the home’s palette, making an appearance most notably in the sunroom, where a pair of Gaois table lamps with a green glaze are visible through the double French doors that connect the room to the dining area. The green accents are especially vivid against white trellis-covered walls, a design choice that Baker says she made with intention. “This was a room that has skylights and windows, tons of great light, and original blue stone flooring, but it just felt like a strange space, so we added the trellis to make it look decidedly like a sunroom,” she says. A dining nook, with chair cushions upholstered in a Guy Goodfellow fabric and decorative platters from Get the Gusto allows for a sort of indoor-outdoor dining experience when New York’s rainy springs and chilly falls make it less comfortable to entertain outside.
Cobalt blue chairs in the kitchen are a colorful and modern take on the classic Windsor style. The window seat is covered in a nautical-inspired Schumacher stripe.Read McKendree
The family room is a favorite hangout spot for the kids. The room is arguably anchored by the large stone fireplace, but a vintage Indian daybed holds its own as a coffee table.Read McKendree
The kitchen, master bedroom, and living rooms deviate from the verdant color scheme a bit, drawing influences instead from the harbor town where the home is located. Double sofas in the family room—a favorite hangout spot for the kids—are covered in a blue linen with a contrasting cord, for example, and framed along the wall by a set of vintage boat blueprints. The room is arguably anchored by the large stone fireplace, but a vintage Indian daybed holds its own as a coffee table. “It’s super sturdy because it used to be a bed platform, so the kids can sort of launch themselves off of it or play on it, sit on it…” Baker jokes.
Baker wrapped the main bedroom in a soothing gray-blue grasscloth and added a nautical blue-and-white stripe to the bench. A pair of armchairs upholstered in Magical Menagerie by Schumacher add a touch of levity and charm.Read McKendree
On the opposite end of the “kid-friendly” spectrum, the den, with its wood-paneled walls (another original detail), crimson wool curtains, and vintage rug is perhaps the most traditional room in the house, followed closely by the formal living room. There, guests—presumably the 18 who gathered around the dining table for dinner—are free to move between four distinct seating areas, including a cozy reading nook on one end of the room upholstered in a Schumacher stripe. Green makes another appearance in a pair of velvet pillows trimmed in a contrasting blue braid, and brings Baker’s design thesis back into focus: “We used a lot of traditional styles in terms of furniture, but we tried to keep the rooms from feeling heavy. We wanted to keep them feeling light and fresh, with a good mix of colors,” she says. Mission accomplished.