Bill Shakespeare Would Be Proud To Live In This House

By forcing brightness into a typically dark style, this new-build Westchester home gives neo-Elizabethan living a lighter side.

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Eric Piasecki

Designer Gideon Mendelson and architect Ned Stoll gave CQ the inside scoop on the charming new Tudor-style home they built and decorated for a Westchester County, New York, family.

There are more prewar Tudors in this neighborhood than Shakespeare could shake a stick at. Is that why you designed a brand-new riff on 500-year-old architecture?

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Ned Stoll: Our client said that, growing up nearby in a plainspoken Colonial, she’d dreamed of someday having her own stately Tudor. She and her husband love the style’s hefty timbers, soaring gables, and quirky details, but they wanted to get away from the stuffy formality and dark, closed-in rooms of the 1920s originals. With Gideon, we devised what we call the “dissolving Tudor.” There’s a gradual progression from traditional forms and vertical structure at the front of the house to more modern, open, horizontal spaces at the rear. Yet the whole layout has a generous scale, an expansive flow, and a flexibility that embraces the way this family lives and entertains.

Gideon Mendelson: When we started on these interiors, the couple’s four children—now in their 20s—were all about to move out. The new house was the parents’ opportunity to say, “Not so fast!” They consciously built a place where grown children, their significant others or spouses, and eventually the grandchildren would feel like they always had a home. This design was about a family staying—and growing—together. It’s also about welcoming the community into their home. They hold events here for philanthropic causes and host dinners for 12 to 14 people.

NS: Thanks to multiple seating arrange­ments, the big living room is as comfortable for party mingling as it is for quiet chats or curling up with a book. We planned the dining room so that in a pinch—like a Passover seder for 30—they can rotate the long center table 90 degrees and set up a folding table on either side. Much of the cooking takes teamwork, and this huge kosher kitchen is the hangout for family and friends.


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Douglas Brenner: Did flashbacks like leaded windowpanes blur your focus on the busy here and now?

GM: Creating a sense of history is very important to me, even when we’re designing things anew. I studied film in school, and I’m drawn to something that visually tells a story as your vantage point shifts. A place where everything looks like it jumped out of a showroom doesn’t give you that. The wife, despite her Tudor infatuation, wanted a more modernist vibe. My goal was to layer different styles and textures, so that midcentury chairs live harmoniously with Tudor roof trusses and contemporary lighting. There’s a deliberate imperfection to many of these things, old and new, that gives them an heirloom feel. The mix of woods, metals, and natural fibers lends a tactile depth. Muted, earthy tones and neutrals let us introduce moments of chromatic richness. If, say, we’d lacquered those vintage Carlo de Carli chairs in high-gloss black and reupholstered them in silk, instead of leaving the seats “as found,” they’d look too precious for this house.

Was it a challenge finding comfortable sofas that held their own in a double-height living room?

GM: Really big sofas can look clunky, so we designed these from scratch. They’re weighty and sculptural, but also soft—a fresh take on a chesterfield that’s not too modern for this space. Another custom piece in the “I’m not finding this, so I gotta make it” category is the family room’s coffee table, which swivels over an ottoman—the kind of move designers went for in the 1950s. Brass stretchers elevate it from retro to refined. Then there are the custom wing chairs we updated with a sort of Scandinavian-modern profile and a 1970s floral print.

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Eric Piasecki

Geometry and florals are Tudor classics—from strapwork bas-reliefs to embroidery. But you’ve translated nostalgic patterns into fresh graphic rhythms.

NS: Gideon’s choice of floral wallpaper for the dining room is spot-on. We were considering some kind of equally bold strapwork on the vaulted ceiling when he showed us a sample of the rug he’d designed for that space. We scaled up the pattern and put it overhead.

GM: I like repeating forms throughout a house in a subtle way. If you took all the furniture out of the living room, a visitor might say, “Wow, that’s a major rug!” But with everything in place, the strong pattern almost becomes a neutral. I don’t like stepping into a room where you get the whole thing in one fell swoop. I want to keep you coming back to discover new layers, new compositions—and maybe question why they’re there. I love the idea of needing to go back for more.

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