February 5, 2015
Vicente Wolf Designs a Center-Hall Colonial in Scarsdale
New York-based Interior designer Vicente Wolf dives into the gray spectrum, bringing modernity, harmony, and comfort to a traditional Westchester home.
by Jorge S. Arango interior designer Vicente Wolf photographer Peter Margonelli architecture Alisberg Parker Architects
50 SHADES OF GREY
"People are afraid of having one color thread through both private and public spaces," says designer Vicente Wolf. "But you can do that because those tonalities read totally differently from room to room depending on the particular shade or on the light."
To wit: this traditional center-hall colonial in Scarsdale. The homeowners, fortysomething modernist aficionados with two preteens, were adding a game room to a residence built in the 1930s. S. Edward Parker III, partner at Alisberg Parker Architects.
of Greenwich, had spearheaded a major interior-exterior renovation in 2007. He returned, collaborating with Wolf on the new glass-walled annex. Wolf then set about designing comfortably contemporary spaces throughout that were "gathering friendly." (The family loves to entertain.)
Wolf's first step? Minimizing formal architectural details simply by "not playing them up." Using a fundamentally gray palette also redirected the focus from these interior flourishes toward a sense of continuous space unbroken by ornamentation. And by varying gray shades room to room, Wolf delineated each, yet also achieved a sense of movement from one to the next. "They are all tones-there's not a true brown or true gray. It's a very mercurial palette, bluer in some places, taupier in others."
The large scale of public rooms ran the risk of reading as cavernous. Wolf divided the living room into two more intimate areas and varied forms in each. Bertoia Diamond chairs appear in both, but in one they're upholstered in a KnollTextiles wool and set against a low-backed sofa swathed in Cowtan & Tout velvet, while at the fireplace end they're bare and face shelter sofas in identical velvet.
In the dining room, "Sixteen of the same chairs would have been monotonous," Wolf explains. Instead, open forms of Knoll Brno chairs on one side of the table progress to more solid upholstered pieces (custom tub chairs, then double banquettes).
Of course, Wolf's signature global touches appear throughout. However, "They refer to the past but read modern," he says, either because of their clean forms (the living room's simple Chinese coffee table) or materials (the master's Chinese country chair reimagined in steel).
The gray palette even continues outside to seat cushions of Dedon-furnished lounging and dining areas. "It gives a sense of serenity and continuity as well as rhythm," says Wolf, and you believe him.