Before & After: Inside a 90s Home’s Modern Makeover

A family-friendly retreat gets a major style revamp.

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A family’s weekends are precious. They’re time to relax and enjoy each other’s company free from schedules, appointments, and other time-stealing stressors. When one family purchased the home that they’d escape to each weekend, it was weighed down (literally!) by tired 90s trends that made the space seem too small, too heavy, and not quite functional. We chatted with Erika Mercurio, Principal of Erika Mercurio Design, who was charged with the task of taking the heavy, overstuffed style left behind by the 90s and replacing it with a functional, bright, and retreat-like space fit for a family in 2017. Read on to find out how she did it!

photography by  STEFAN RADTKE 

[updated April 26, 2017]


How did this project come about?

When I got the call about this project and saw some initial pictures, I was thrilled because there was such possibility in this house to brighten things up and bring in the light. I immediately envisioned stripping back the overdone elements of the house, and bringing in a clean, crisp design. I couldn’t wait to get started uncovering the true potential of the space.


What were the main goals?

We set out to create a weekend retreat (my client is based primarily in NYC) that was beautiful and design forward but also highly functional and kid-friendly. Everything we chose for the house had to be special, but not too precious.


Where do you begin with a project like this?

The first step was to strip away the out of date, heavy feel to the home. It had been renovated in the early 90s and there was lots of cherry wood, heavy and overstuffed furniture and a plethora of rooster-themed decor! We wanted to bring light in, streamline the feel and make it an open, airy, comfortable, design-conscious space.


What was the biggest challenge?

When we did an initial walk through of the house, the open concept just wasn’t working. It felt divided and even though it is a large space, a little claustrophobic. We came up with a plan to brighten everything up and add a cohesiveness to the entire downstairs space through the shiplap walls, window treatments, and bright white paint.  

What is your personal favorite design element in this space?

I found the fireplace mantel under a pile in a lumber yard. It is a beautiful piece of thick, salvaged wood from an old barn. I chose the piece in particular because it had a strap mark and I liked the addition of slight imperfection and history. I love the texture, warmth and personality of the mantel and what it brings to the main room. In addition to the mantel, I am quite partial to the shiplap walls, and custom stained floors we added.  

Rug Jaipur Pura Vida, Coffee Table Four Hands, Leather Chairs Four Hands, Sofa abc carpet & home Delancey Sectional, Stool Serena & Lily


What is your favorite memory of this design process?

It was a wonderful collaboration with my client, she really trusted me and was open to trying new things. It was also so much fun to source local items for the house in the Hamptons. There are so many great stores out there and I love adding local elements to each project I work on. We sourced a lot of the pottery and ceramics above the kitchen cabinets from local stores and markets.

Lights Arteriors Tenley Pendants, Table Custom Farmhouse Table available through Erika Mercurio Design, Dining Chairs Restoration Hardware


Did you use anything here that you consider to be one of your “signature” design moments?

I love adding pops of color to a simple and streamlined base design. For example, the subtle addition of the navy and white hand painted moroccan tile in the bar area or the shades of blue pottery above the kitchen cabinets add texture and personality. I also try to add authentic materials whenever possible. In this home, some of the living room pillows are made from traditional Vietnamese brocade fabric, we used throws woven in Sweden, and sourced various decorative objects locally (slag glass on the mantel, shells, local pottery to name a few).

Stools Industry West


Backsplash Moroccan

Cement Tiles from Mosaic House, Pattern Daisy

Custom Dresser available through Erika Mercurio Design, Custom Painting by Brynn W. Casey

What is the best reaction you’ve heard to this space so far?

The best reaction and biggest compliment is that my client has shared how happy she, her family and her guests are to spend time in the home. From the moment people walk in the door, they are impressed with the design, but I am thrilled that the layout and everything we chose are functional and bring happiness to those who experience them.

Butterfly Chair CB2, Elephant Side Table Serena & Lily Ellie Table 

What is one design element you used here that our readers should try for themselves?

We wanted to create a really special Master Bedroom refuge for my client and her husband. We added cozy, plush sheepskin throw rugs beside the bed so that is what you feel first thing when waking up or last thing at night. We also customized the dresser in the Master Bedroom to include a fridge and coffee machine so that as soon as they wake up, they can make coffee and step outside to the deck. While that might not be able to be recreated in everyone’s home, I think it is important to add a luxurious, indulgent element to your bedroom that will make you especially happy to spend time there.

Bed Dwell, Bedding John Robshaw, Bench Made Goods Nico Bench, Nightstands Made Goods Mia 

Read More:

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