How to Make Every House Feel Like Home
Expert design tips for every type of homebuyer.
Published Aug 2, 2017 5:00 AM
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Whether you’re dreaming of owning your first apartment or saving up for a vacation home, chances are you log serious hours checking out real estate listings. In case you need even more eye candy, we picked out our favorite properties around the country right now—all available through Douglas Elliman—that we want to make our own, starting with this stylish condo in downtown Manhattan. We asked New York City-based designer Lilly Bunn of her own eponymous firm to share some insights on these properties and offer tips on how a buyer could make these houses into homes and express her personal style.
Dream first home:
A New York City apartment in a trendy neighborhood
This sunny and spacious two-bedroom home in the chic Nolita neighborhood features two full bathrooms and an open-plan kitchen and living room, making it a great space to entertain friends and family. It’s the perfect contemporary pad for a single person—that extra bedroom is ideal for guests—or a couple buying their first place together and looking to start a family. Bonus: There’s also a balcony.
Make your bedroom a sanctuary
The bedroom should be a serene, cozy space for unwinding and escaping the chaos of everyday life. “When designing a bedroom, I like to keep it simple with whites and creams,” says Bunn. Personalize the space with art, mix and match your nightstands and bedside lamps for variety. Bring in plants, like this bedroom, to create a calming environment, and if you want more privacy around the bed, you can put up a stylish room divider or hang curtains from the ceiling.
In a small city apartment, your living room is the center of all activity, so it functions as your office, dining room, and general hangout space as well. Bunn suggests investing in a sofa that can handle constant use and act as a statement design element. “I love Kagan sofas because they instantly make a room feel dressed up and fun,” says Bunn. “They work so well in contemporary spaces like this.”
Dream family home: A renovated LA home with room to grow
This Hancock Park estate in Los Angeles is a newly renovated 1939 home with four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms—plenty of room for you, your kids, and visitors. The indoor spaces feature light wood parquet floors, a sweeping circular staircase, high ceilings, a chef’s kitchen, and a formal dining room. The outdoors boasts lush gardens, entertaining spaces, a pool, and a guest house. It’s the total package. The only downside? Everyone will request that you host all family gatherings.
Make a statement in the entryway
This is the first place that guests will see, so use the opportunity to have some fun and showcase your style. Bunn notes that an open stairwell is the perfect place to hang pictures. “This is such a bright and cheerful way to enter a house,” she says. “I love the white walls in this home, too. So chic and simple.”
Keep the bedroom luxe, but comfortable
When you have kids, you want your master bedroom to be a calming escape, but the little ones will inevitably want to spend time here, too—but it’s easy to make a space that can be both relaxing and kid-friendly. A large rug softens hardwood floors and adds personality—”I love a plush Moroccan area rug in a simple white bedroom,” says Bunn—while white walls keep the space sophisticated and simple. “There is so much natural light in this space and the moldings add visual interest, so you don’t need to junk it up with too much paint or wallpaper.”
Dream vacation home: An oasis near the beach with room for guests
This cheery Sagaponack home in the Hamptons would make for a luxurious second home. The 9,000-square-foot mansion features seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms, plus another two half baths, and is ideal for family vacations—you’ll probably have to host the annual family reunion for years to come.
With a formal dining room, chef’s kitchen, grand entrance that offers a sweeping balcony, and great room with a wood burning fireplace, there’s plenty of space for entertaining. A wall of glass doors overlooks a peaceful patio, sprawling yard, and stone-lined swimming pool, making it the perfect place to relax with family and friends.
Indoor-outdoor living is a must
With the pool, tennis courts, and outdoor kitchen in this home, you’ll want to be able to seamlessly move between the indoors and out. In the living room, large French doors lead out to the patio, and the neutral palette of beige and gray lets the greenery take centerstage. Plus, says Bunn, “The high ceilings and light make the light blue furniture feel really fresh and calm.” You can place potted plants around the room to bring nature inside.