with larger outdoor areas, more liveable square footage, and all of the benefits of the city nearby, it’s easy to see why the suburbs are a popular choice for second homes. however, while these homes may boast physical comfort, are they bringing you visual and emotional comfort as well? do they hit the mark when it comes to elevated style… or do they feel (dare i say it) uninspired?

if your suburban home leaves something to be desired stylistically, there is hope. many of our clients call us for a range of remedies, from full-scale renovations (like this whole home renovation in chappaqua) to equally transformative updates sans remodeling.

today, i’m sharing some of the most common styles we see homeowners replacing in their suburban residences, along with practical solutions for bringing the elevated luxury of the city straight into the ‘burbs. rest assured, whether you’re lounging in chappaqua, katonah, or westport… there is no need to compromise.

1. brighten your walls

existing style: walls in jewel tones, like gold and maroon

most likely to be found: everywhere. this color scheme was prevalent around the late ’90s and early 2000s, especially in colonial homes, and you will find it allll over the suburbs.

potential issues: golden walls make a space feel smaller, and since larger living spaces are a benefit of the suburbs, the last thing we want to do is compromise that visual space.

the solution: trade jewel tones for soft shades of grey and crisp whites to create the light, bright, and airy home aesthetic characteristic of city living. this will also give your home a serene, sophisticated, and clean feeling while mimicking the limitless space of the suburbs.

soft grey makes this space feel open, spacious, and modern. photo by will ellis

2. modernize your flooring

existing style: travertine or tile floors with “tumbled” edges

most likely to be found: in entryways, powder rooms & primary bathrooms

potential issues: a lot of clients ask us to remove their homes’ original travertine flooring during a renovation. they tend to make spaces look dated (largely because of their tuscan-style coloring… more on that next), and they are also known for being very porous, which means they trap dirt and debris.

the solution: replace them. depending on the location and function of the space in question, more current options could include stunningly timeless natural stone flooring or gorgeous porcelain tile. this will modernize the area while visually expanding the space. not to mention, these materials are durable and easier to maintain.


much, much better. Photo by emily gilbert photography

3. elevate your hardware

existing style: overly traditional hardware

most likely to be found: on doors, cabinets, and plumbing

potential issues: hardware may seem like a small item to be impacting the overall design, but it has a larger visual presence than most people think. hardware can be found on permanent finishes throughout your entire home, and those little details add up. when clients ask me how to modernize a kitchen or bathroom, hardware is usually one of my first answers.

the solution: fortunately, this is an easy one to fix. installing standout hardware on doors and cabinets throughout the home can elevate a space to a new level of luxury. brass, oil-rubbed bronze, matte black, and satin nickel are all beautiful options for that fresh yet polished approach. (here are more tips for mixing metals)

photo by emily gilbert photography
photo by emily gilbert photography

4. transform the tuscan theme

existing style: tuscan-themed homes… which include all the other existing suburban styles mentioned above

most likely to be found: all over the suburbs, but especially in homes circa the early 2000s

possible issues: the ‘90s saw an influx of warm tuscan hues (see #1), tuscan-inspired travertine (see #2), wrought-iron fixtures and finishes (see #3), ornate fireplaces, and dark and heavy drapery. while these interiors may feel reminiscent of happy days in san gimignano, many of our clients ask us to update these features to reflect the elevated, modern-day style of their chic city apartments.

the solution: after employing tips #1, #2, and #3 above, layer in new modern fixtures that feel elegant and sophisticated. replace heavy drapery with tailored, custom window treatments, like roman shades (see below for inspiration), and reface your fireplace to make it feel elevated and streamlined yet classic.

left photo by emily gilbert photography; right photo by jean allsopp

these two homes employed all of the suggested updates above while still embracing their old world charm with exposed wood beams. tasteful, luxurious, and comfortable.

5. update recessed lighting

existing style: oversized can lights

most likely to be found: in your ceiling

possible issues: lighting sets the mood in your home, and large can lights can add a feeling of heaviness to a room.

the solution: smaller, more modern white downlights. however, this is a more significant project and involves a bit more dust, as we will need to patch up those holes in your ceilings. but don’t let that deter you. this update will noticeably relax and elevate your home, and i’m confident you will love the result… and your newly lowered electric bill. 😉

by emily gilbert photography

well, there you have it — 5 ways our clients have employed us to transform various suburban home styles for stylish, elevated living. if you’re ready for a country home that’s polished, luxurious, and oh so light on its feet, reach out to us here. it’s what we do. 😉

cheers ~ darci