A Light & Bright Refresh

A 1920s home in Scarsdale goes from dark and dated to fresh and fun.
1920 Scarsdale Traditional Home Bar Cart

Photographs by Patrick Cline

It’s a small world, after all. Upon completing a college internship in Walt Disney World’s Imagineering department, which curates the Florida theme park’s aesthetic, Lindsay MacRae knew that she wanted to become an interior designer. “Because of my experience at Disney, I’m always trying to create happy environments,” says MacRae, an Ohio native who studied design at the University of Cincinnati. “Your home,” she adds, “should always make you smile.”

After graduation, MacRae hopscotched around the country a bit, working at Marc-Michaels Interior Design back in Florida, at Gensler in both Houston and New York, and at Robert A.M. Stern Architects, before founding her own Manhattan-based residential interiors firm in 2013. Two years later, in its March 2015 issue, NYC&G named her a Rising Star.

The client whose 1927 residence in Scarsdale appears on these pages saw MacRae’s cheery work on the website Houzz, then contacted the designer about spreading some joy in the 5,500-square-foot seven-bedroom that she shares with her husband and three daughters. The family had already been living there for about three years before MacRae came to the rescue. “The place was in pretty good shape,” the designer recounts, “but it felt too dark, and a lot of 1980s-era elements needed refreshing.”

Rather than blowing the project’s entire budget on a gut renovation of the kitchen, MacRae simply gave the space a gentle makeover, painting the yellow cabinetry and dark wood island Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, changing out “heavy-looking” corbels around the range hood for a more streamlined framework, and selecting a new backsplash, lighting, and hardware.

1920 Scarsdale Traditional Home Kitchen

Photographs by Patrick Cline

In addition to the kitchen, the dining and living rooms see heavy rotation, as the family often hosts large groups for the holidays. In the former, MacRae opted for a bird-motif wallpaper from Brunschwig & Fils. (It had hung in the family’s previous residence, and MacRae was able to get her hands on the last few rolls of the discontinued colorway.) Meanwhile, neutrals set the stage in the living room, with “light, bright, and fun” touches provided by colorful fabrics on accent pillows and draperies. The home, MacRae says proudly, now comes off as “timeless, without looking like Grandma’s house.”

As for the private spaces, MacRae lent personality to each of the seven bedrooms through distinct color palettes and prints. In the master, the designer went for “soft and sweet,” using white grasscloth on the walls and powder-blue accents that carry through to the master bath. MacRae collaborated with the clients’ eldest daughter on her playful, yet sophisticated gray-and-pink bedroom—a far cry from the electric teal that had previously dominated the lair.

1920 Scarsdale Traditional Home Spare Room Details

Photographs by Patrick Cline

And a green guest room, boasting a tufted velvet banquette that’s tucked into a cozy nook under the stairs—doubles as a go-to homework spot for the two younger daughters. MacRae’s favorite space, however, is a guest room enveloped in a blue-and-white Schumacher toile. “It was my first time wallpapering a ceiling,” she says, “and I’m so glad that I took the risk. It’s breathtaking in person.” The print’s large scale, she adds, “makes the room feel young. I love layering pattern and color onto classic bones. This house is traditional, but also very fresh.”

The print version of this article appeared with the headline: Light & Bright.