Larchmont Living Columns

Wood You Believe by Lyn Peterson

When I first bought a home, the floors were what the wood floors were—skinny, brown oak strips. That was it. And I never thought twice about changing it up.

It wasn’t until I was invited to participate in the prestigious Kips Bay Designer Showhouse that I was circuitously exposed to other flooring options. (How, you might ask, was a neophyte suburban decorator invited into the upper echelon of design? Well, the head of the selection committee took a liking to my husband… But I digress.) Soon, big design jobs came my way, including a full-floor apartment on Fifth Avenue across from the Met with the most striking floors 5’ wide quartersawn oak floors I had ever seen.

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Winter Pick-Me-Ups by Lyn Peterson

It’s winter. It’s interminable. It’s the kind of weather that makes me not want to leave the house, specifically the fireside. Nor do I want to be too far from the remote. All of that whining, due I am sure, to a shortage of Vitamin D; the lack of daylight hours is leaving me bereft. What warms my design soul, however, is the simple task of collating and editing my thousands (literally) of photos from the last furniture market. So here goes—five trends, fads and follies that are heating up the interiors world.

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Commitment Issues by Lyn Peterson

We live in a lovely spot—as the French would say, endroit—but the truth is, many of our Westchester homes are old-ish, built in the post WW II boom or prior to. Kitchens are isolated and oft decrepit. Living rooms are not for the living. Need I say more?

My customers are realizing that the costs of moving—the real, obvious costs (movers, packing, painting, floor refinishing) and the hidden costs (towel bars, paper towel holders, closet hooks, not to mention finding a new dry cleaner or pediatrician)—are daunting. And we’re all increasingly aware that real estate is not the golden goose of yore; no longer can we count on creating wealth by owning, selling at a usurious profit, and moving on. Rather people are committing to their communities, their homes, their lifestyles. Content with who they are and how they live. Or, more specifically, content with an agenda that involves renovating or refurbishing.

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Cheers to a Stylish 2019 by Lyn Peterson

As the new year approaches we all face the ritual of resolutions, personal and professional. In the interest of an improve 2019, here are my favorite, if somewhat random, mantras and bon mots to make your design life chicer, or at the very least easier.


Ideally, the dog should match the carpet and the cat should match the upholstery or bedding, depending on how loose you are with the no-paws-on-the-furniture enforcement (bet you guessed I’m an enforcer). But here’s a corollary: Even if you have the perfect color-coordinated golden retriever, forgo sisal and jute rugs. These natural fibers smell an awful lot like grass and are an invitation for pets to mark their territory (and by the way, the natural fibers are near-impossible to clean). End the trends. If the sentence starts, “I’m obsessed with…” then step away from it, whatever it is.

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Market Day by Lyn Peterson

Twice yearly, like lemmings, we descend on High Point, North Carolina for the biannual furniture market; we being furniture retailers, e-tailers, designers, architects, sales reps and furniture showrooms. The population of this once-populous town, decimated by offshore production, virtually doubles, swelling from 100,000 to almost 200,000. It’s a real scene. We’re all sporting our market finery, proving we are with-it, on-it and oh-so relevant. But what we are really doing is seeking—seeking trends, directions, comfort and the answers to “what’s next?”

Here, straight from the market runway, the good, the bad, and the boho.


When I started in the furniture business almost 20 years ago, Vanguard Furniture actually had an entire section in its vast showroom for chairs that rocked and rolled. Then—pfftttt—motion was gone, nowhere to be found. Well, swivels, rockers, recliners and rock-swivels, are back. Big time.

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The Big Refresh by Lyn Peterson

I know, I know. It seems counterintuitive. This is the time of year I should be layering up for fall—adding cozy throws and comfy pillows. But this year, somehow, I find I am stripping away. Well, maybe not so much actual removing but rather tidying, organizing, collating, editing, refreshing. The three grey urns that rested atop a console have been swapped out for a single black almost sculptural vase. Somehow with summer and its memorabilia gone, and more time spent indoors, I find I am looking at my interiors with a cold discerning eye—and thinking, hmmmm, I can do better.

And I find my customers are feeling the same way. It’s not so much about the big redo but rather about making what is—better. I’m aiming for immaculate. I’ll settle for pristine.

Here are some things on my, and maybe your, refresh list.

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Crushing on My Clients by Lyn Peterson

I have the best clients. Smart, resourceful, and curious. Of course, I’m happy to guide, edit and inspire the design, but I also love when a customer steers her own course. The best relationships are symbiotic. We educate one another. My clients teach me how we live today—how we want to live, how we need to live.

Here, what a few of the most interesting and innovative Motif customers are up to of late.

Molly, who lives in a happy Dutch Colonial near Chatsworth, wants to revisit her dining room lighting and chair situation, which has an air of early married life. When we first broached the subject a year or so ago, Holly was recovering from a massive kitchen reno and addition. She had decision-making fatigue and just couldn’t resolve whether to go Sputnik contemporary or farmhouse industrial. After paging through a curated selection of options and tear sheets, we have made our choices, a mix of the two. Her new fabric-clad chairs and classic, clean, contemporary chandelier should be in place well before Thanksgiving.

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Going Small by Lyn Peterson

Drive down any street and you’ll see a trend I am not a fan of—charming smaller homes being torn down willy-nilly, replaced with places that positively sprawl. While the McMansion phase is waning, especially in Westchester where building departments reign in developers, the average American new build home is still nearly three times the size of a home built in the ‘50s. And in my opinion—as someone who has just traded a rather large manse for a much, much smaller one—bigger is not always better. When I meet new clients considering buying an oversized behemoth, I caution them. Will a grand home, where the kids go off and isolate themselves in their own spaces, make you happier? Do you realize you not only have to pay for it now, but always—in rooms you don’t “always” (or almost ever) use? And what of the stuff? I’ve found that just as work expands to fill the allotted time, stuff expands to fill space. A lotta space means a lotta stuff.

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