7 Ways to Brighten Your Home

Designer Blair Gordon helps a small Sag Harbor home live a little larger with ideas that lighten and brighten.

White stairwell and entry

Photo: Jean Allsopp

Just add white.

“Never underestimate the power of white paint to pen up a room,” says Blair. Two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Brilliant White paint transformed the wood-paneled entry, stairwell, and dining room from dark and dreary to light and airy. A simplified palette allows the small spaces to breathe a little easier.

Modern Midcentury Dining Room

Photo: Jean Allsopp

Keep it low.

“Streamlined furnishings with low-slung profiles help rooms feel more spacious,” Blair says. In the dining room and the living area, a mix of midcentury modern antiques, contemporary Italian pieces, and flea-market finds enlivens the mostly white interior. The array of styles has one common denominator: a minimalist silhouette that doesn’t absorb precious square footage.

Great Room With Open Floor Plan

Photo: Jean Allsopp

Rethink room assignments.

“Consider how you want to use each space, not just how the rooms are currently used” advises Blair. On the ground floor, he worked with Hamptons architect Anthony Vermandois to convert what had been a master suite addition into a great room that’s just off the kitchen and has French doors opening to the back patio and pool.

White Open Kitchen

Photo: Jean Allsopp

Tear down a wall.

“Removing non-structural walls makes a house feel larger without adding a square foot,” says Blair. He and Anthony removed a wall separating the kitchen from the living room to create one large area. Now, only a travertine island divides the updated kitchen and the great room.

Master Bedroom with Built-Ins

Photo: Jean Allsopp

Simplify with built-ins.

“Small rooms feel cluttered when crammed full of lots of furniture,” says Blair, who suggests built-in storage where possible. In the master bedroom, a built-in banquette and recessed dresser provide storage without overwhelming the tight space with a bunch of stuff.

Backyard Patio and Pool

Photo: Jean Allsopp

Think up, not out.

“Houses with under-used space, like attics, have tons of potential to be enlarged without modifying the footprint,” says Blair. Adding a 20-foot-wide dormer bump-out across the back of the house in a partially finished attic carved out room for two additional bedrooms and baths, for a total of 900 square feet. Raising the roofs of two dormers on the front of the house created space for a new guest room and bath.

Front Entry with Built-In Banquettes

Photo: Jean Allsopp

Take it outside.

“At the beach, everyone wants to be outside anyway, so outdoor living areas are a great way to add space without adding onto your house,” says Blair. Outside the front door, he placed a pair of built-in banquettes that not only boost curb appeal but also provide a quiet, shaded reading spot.

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