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Stylish Home on Long Island Sound

A fashion executive whose workdays are steeped in style brings comfortable classics home

Written by Amy Elbert
  • Tria Giovan

    Ever notice that the colors and patterns you grab off the fashion racks are similar to what you surround yourself with at home? Interior designer Ken Gemes sees the connection all the time—most recently in a big way when he designed a home for fashion executive Kay Krill, CEO at Ann Taylor and Loft.

    Kay asked Gemes, a longtime friend, to help with the renovation of a stately, century-old home she had bought on Long Island Sound. The brick-and-frame Colonial-style house had spectacular views of the water and the New York City skyline, but it hadn’t been updated in decades.

    The historic look of the early-1900s house was maintained.

    Photography: Tria Giovan

    Architect: McKee Patterson  Austin Patterson Disston Architects, 376 Pequot Ave., P.O. Box 61, Southport, CT 06890; 203/255-4031,
    Interior designer: Ken Gemes, Ken Gemes Interiors, 4 Sunny Brae Place, Bronxville, NY 10708; 914/779-7580,  


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    Entry Table

    “It was in rough shape,” says architect McKee Patterson, who tackled the structural issues and reconfigured spaces to create a new kitchen, plenty of family gathering spaces, and bedrooms with bay windows and water views for Kay and her sons.

    The historical character of the house had been largely stripped away in earlier remodels, so Patterson beefed up the charm with architectural details such as paneled walls, moldings, coffered ceilings, and built-ins. New casement windows that look original and walls of French doors connect the interiors to the outdoors.

    A faux-shagreen table provides a drop-off spot in the entry. Walls are Benjamin Moore’s “Baby Fawn.”  

    Wall paint (“Baby Fawn” #OC-15); trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Console (“Harlow Console”/Cool Grey Faux Shagreen, custom size); table lamp (“Naia”): Made Goods,
    Greek key mirror (“Greek Key Bone and Horn Mirror”): Lumiere Inc.,
    Ceiling fixture (“Trillion Flush Mount” #SN4001): Circa Lighting,

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    Sunroom with a View

    “I wanted the house to be open and inviting,” Kay says. “We put French doors in every room, so every area opens onto the stone patio facing the water.” 

    In the sunroom, which is near the outdoor swimming pool, seating pieces are covered with water-resistant indoor-outdoor fabrics. The settee and chairs designed by Laura Kirar for McGuire are practical and pretty, with cushions covered in Holly Hunt’s Great Outdoors Lakeshore fabric in “Silver Cloud.” A custom ottoman and pillows are covered in Trina Turk’s bold “Sunglass Print” indoor-outdoor fabric from Schumacher.

    Wall paint (“Sea Salt” #CSP-95); trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Sofa (“Laura Kirar Settee” #B-81); barrel chairs (“Laura Kirar Barrel Lounge Chair” #A-80); lounge chairs (“Laura Kirar Lounge Chair” #A-81): McGuire,
    Sofa and chair fabric (“Lakeshore”/Silver Cloud #206/04, Great Outdoors Collection): Holly Hunt,
    Ottoman (custom): Ken Gemes Interiors,
    Ottoman and sofa-pillow fabric (“Sunglass Print”/Charcoal #174294, by Trina Turk): Schumacher,
    Botanical pillows on sofa (“OD Le Flora Danica”/Charcoal #34225-1): Clarence House,
    Table between barrel chairs (“Wood Gourds Table,” discontinued): Barbara Cosgrove,
    Ceiling fan; faux zebra rug; table lamps (from Jamie Young): owner’s collection. 

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    Stylish Bar Area

    Just off the sunroom, two shapely stools are parked under an enameled table. Zebra-base lamps are from Oly; the shell-frame mirror is from Made Goods. Cabinets in the wet bar behind are painted Benjamin Moore’s “White Dove.” A woven zinc mesh material adds interest to upper door fronts. 

    Wall paint (“Sea Salt” #CSP-95); trim paint (White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Console table (“Hutton Console” #179-51, custom size): Hickory Chair,
    Table lamps (discontinued): Oly,
    Mirror (“Killian”): Made Goods,
    Tray; cocktail shaker; carafes: owner’s collection.
    Pair of benches; fan: owner’s collection.
    Flooring finish (mix of 131/231 Ebony and 175 Jacobean): DuraSeal,

    Wet bar—
    Cabinetry: custom.
    Cabinetry finish (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Woven zinc door inserts (custom): McKee Patterson, Austin Patterson Disston Architects
    Tray; carafes; canister: owner’s collection.  

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    Quietly Elegant Living Room

    Gemes selected quiet colors and soft sand-colored fabrics that would enhance rather than detract from the picturesque setting. “What was going on outside was the focus,” Gemes says. “The views led us to monochromatic color schemes, all based around parchment, taupe, and pale grays.” In each room, graphic geometrics or updated toiles in sophisticated charcoal, gray, and chocolate hues make a statement without being fussy. Textures play a major role as well—nubby sisal and herringbone rugs, faux-shagreen tables, and shell mirror frames.

    Artwork above the living room mantel is by Shinekia Thomas. The architect added built-in bookshelves that flank the Chesney stone fireplace.

    Wall paint (“Collingwood” #OC-28); trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Area rug (“Madagascar”/Glacier): Merida,
    Art above mantel (by Shinekia Thomas): T. Botero Galleries,
    Mantel (“Burlington,” in Classico Limestone): Chesney’s,
    Sofas (custom): Ken Gemes Interiors,
    Sofa fabric (“Skye”/Driftwood #750002-06): Rogers & Goffigon, 203/532-8068.
    Window treatment and sofa pillow fabric (“Petite Pom on Linen”): TylerGraphic,
    Pillows on either end of sofa (“XandO”/Mink, Stone): Studio Bon,
    Coffee table (“Morris Cocktail Table” #1581-70, by Suzanne Kasler, custom size): Hickory Chair,
    End tables: Mecox Gardens,
    Lamps on end tables (“Antique Silver Leaf Gourd Lamp” with custom shades, discontinued): Circa Lighting, For similar, (“Aged Silver Leaf Gourd Lamp”): Hollis & Knight,
    Floor lamp (“Barley Twist Floor Lamp” with custom shades): Jamie Young,
    Sconces: owner’s collection.
    Club chair (custom): Ken Gemes Interiors,
    Chair fabric (“Fuzz”/Black): Studio Bon, Available through Schumacher,

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    Stylish Club Chairs

    “Everything is very laid-back, understated, comfy, and welcoming,” Gemes says, “which is very much who Kay is.”

    “My house is a perfect reflection of me,” Kay agrees. “The house is primarily grays and taupes with a pop of color. That is really my wardrobe aesthetic and style—black, navy, neutrals with a pop of color in summer months. The fabrics are all geometrics and toiles, which also reflects my aesthetic: simple, yet make a statement.” 

    Custom Ken Gemes club chairs upholstered in stylish bold dots punctuate the living room. 

    Wall paint (“Collingwood” #OC-28); trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Area rug (“Madagascar”/Glacier): Merida,
    Chairs (custom): Ken Gemes Interiors,
    Chair fabric (“Fuzz”/Black): Studio Bon, Available through Schumacher,
    Pillows on chairs (“Lucent Linen”/Flaxen #10988): Calvin Fabrics,
    Pillow trim (“1.5-inch Cambridge Strie Braid”/Black #977-34161-117): Samuel & Sons,
    Table (“Angus Column Table” #5484-10, by Alexa Hampton): Hickory Chair,
    Table lamp (“Small Carved Bone Lamp” with stone linen shade): Jamie Young,
    Art behind chairs (“Palm Frond, Ebony”): Natural Curiosities,  

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    Lovely Family Room

    Rooms in the nearly 5,000-square-foot house are linked by French doors, offering long sight lines through the spaces and to the outdoors. Gemes and Patterson chose paint colors, millwork, and floor coverings that would define individual living areas while ensuring a cohesive flow from room to room.

    “Once the fabrics were determined, Kay and I selected various wall colors that were put on cards, so we could reference how the colors would interact,” Gemes explains. Waterfront property poses special challenges because reflections of sunlight on the water alter how colors look, so samples were evaluated in the spaces at different times of the day, the designer adds.

    A peninsula separates the kitchen from the family room, where chairs in a black-and-white linen from Jim Thompson and a sofa in a textured herringbone are all about comfort. The custom coffee table is the right height for propping feet.

    Wall paint (“Stonington Gray” #HC-170); trim paint (“White Dove” #C-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Area rug (“Knob Hill”/Silver #8500-0001, by Couristan): CarpetTrends,
    Mantel (“Regency Bullseye” in Classico Limestone): Chesney’s,
    Sofa (custom): Ken Gemes Interiors,
    Sofa fabric (#25739-21): Kravet,
    Pillows on sofa (“Pin Up”/Noir et Blanc #F2815001): Pierre Frey,
    Club chairs (“Paris Swivel Chairs” #7601-27, by Mariette Himes Gomez): Hickory Chair,
    Chair fabric (“Fretwork” #2066/01): Jim Thompson,
    Pillows on chairs (“Greek Key”/Smoke #174501): Schumacher,
    Round end tables (“Cara Side Table”/Cool Grey Faux Shagreen): Made Goods,
    Table lamps (“Mulholland Table Lamps” with grey linen shades): Jamie Young,
    Coffee table (custom): Ken Gemes Interiors,
    Small end tables between club chairs (“Tini II”): Oomph,
    Seat cushion beside mantel (“Greek Key Classic”/Silver): Plumwich,
    Pillow on seat cushion (“Pin Up”/Noir et Blanc #F2815001): Pierre Frey,

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    Black and White Kitchen

    A playful retro beach interpretation of a toile from Pierre Frey on the Roman shade energizes the kitchen. The flared shape of the light fixture from Ironware International mimics the shape of the custom-designed range hood and the supports on the peninsula. 

    Wall paint (“Stonington Gray” #HC-170): Benjamin Moore,
    Cabinetry: custom.
    Countertops: Absolut Black Granite with leather finish.
    Refrigerator; freezer: Northland,
    Drinks refrigerator: Marvel Premium Refrigeration,
    Ice machine: Scotsman,
    Range: DCS by Fisher & Paykel,
    Range backsplash: Silver Paradise marble.
    Roman shade (“Pin Up”/Noir et Blanc #F2815001): Pierre Frey,
    Light over island (“Rochelle Pendant” #8117, custom size): Ironware International,
    Bar stools (“Amsterdam Bar Stool” #1552-03, by Suzanne Kasler): Hickory Chair,
    Bar-stool fabric: grey tweed.

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    Sophisticated Dining Room

    “These are sophisticated rooms that show great restraint from a design standpoint, but they are intended to be totally lived in,” Gemes says. The dining room table where the family often eats was custom made with a rough-hewn surface.

    A chandelier from Made Goods hangs above the custom reclaimed-teak table. French doors are draped with Pierre Frey panels in a bold graphic. 

    Wall paint (“Chateau” #CSP-140); ceiling and trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Drapery (“Mauritius”/Nuit #F2751002): Pierre Frey,
    Chandelier (“Patricia”): Made Goods,
    Dining table (reclaimed teak): custom.
    Dining chairs (“Cabriole Side Chairs” #4653-02): Hickory Chair,
    Chair fabric (“Flanders Linen”/Stone #1112-6, by Marvic Textiles): Zimmer + Rohde,
    Greek key trim on chairs (“Greek Key”/Ivory, Black #977-15045): Samuel & Sons,
    Area rug (“Kyoto”/Glacier, discontinued; for similar, “Stratum”/Glacier): Merida,
    Bowl on table (marble bowl): Mecox Gardens,  

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    Dining Room Vignette

    Several fashion illustrations that Gemes found at an Atlanta gallery were must-haves—not only for their homeowner-appropriate subject, but also for the artistic qualities and moody, soft colorings. “They’re so understated and beautiful. I showed them to Kay, and she fell in love with them,” Gemes says. Drawn on linen, the large framed pieces hang above the living room fireplace and in the center stair hall, with two more in the dining room.

    Shinekia Thomas’s fashion art hangs above a chair in the dining room. The chest is from Hickory Chair. 

    Wall paint (“Chateau” #CSP-140); trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Chest (“Tuxedo Chest”/Weathered Mineral #1568-70, by Suzanne Kasler): Hickory Chair,
    Art above chest (by Godwin Hoffmann): Trowbridge,
    Silver fluted vase; hotelware wine cooler: antique.
    Fashion illustration above chair (by Shinekia Thomas): T. Botero Galleries,

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    Quiet Master Bedroom

    An orange bed pillow wakes up the otherwise quiet color scheme. A charcoal-and-white Schumacher fabric dresses the windows and bed pillows. The club chair is upholstered in a gray Pierre Frey linen, and the rug is Merida’s “Pinstripe” wool. 

    Wall paint (“Pearl River” #871); trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Headboard (“Morgan”/DK Mushroom): Made Goods,
    Bed cover: owner’s collection.
    Bed skirt (“Courtrai Glazed Linen”/Dusk #65160); drapery and pillow shams (“Shantung Silhouette Print”/Smoke #174581): Schumacher,
    Orange pillow: custom.
    Blanket (“Avalon”): Hermès,
    Drapery hardware: S&L Designs,
    Club chair (custom); bedside table (custom): Ken Gemes Interiors,
    Club-chair fabric (“Rivington”/Metal #F2716007): Pierre Frey,
    Side table by chair (“Tini II”): Oomph,
    Table lamp: The Accessory Store,
    Area rug (“Pinstripe”/Stone, wool): Merida,

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    Bright Master Bathroom

    The tub is tucked into a dormer and offers views of the Manhattan skyline. The Roman shade is Plumwich’s hand-screened “Quorra” fabric. 

    Wall paint (“Graytint” #1611); trim paint and cabinet finish (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Roman shade (“Quorra”/Light Grey): Plumwich, by J.A. Design Studio,
    Area rug (“Pinstripe”/Stone, wool): Merida,
    Stool by tub (“Janson”): Made Goods,
    Vanity cabinet: custom.
    Countertop: Dolomite marble.
    Sink (“Caxton Under-Mount”): Kohler,

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    Rear Exterior

    The first level opens to a covered porch and patios. A wide staircase that steps down to a center hall with French doors leading to the bluestone patio is one of Kay’s favorite features. “Walking down the stairway every morning and looking at the water is special,” she says. Bay windows and dormers upstairs face the water, too.

    White exterior paint (“Moonlight White” #OC-125); trim (“Simply White” #OC-117): Benjamin Moore,
    Hanging lantern (“Charleston Lantern” #UE-1001): Urban Electric,

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    Bluestone Patio

    Awning-stripe Sunbrella fabric keeps seating relaxed on the patio near the sunroom and pool. 

    Outdoor furniture (Malibu Collection): Restoration Hardware,
    Cushion fabric (“Big Stripe”/Black Tie #400-10): Perennials,
    Porcelain garden stools: The Van Cleve Collection,
    Lion statuary (vintage): original to house. 

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    Homeowner Kay Krill

    After busy days working in the heart of Times Square, Kay relishes her evenings, sinking into comfortable chairs with her sons and watching gorgeous sunsets and the glittering Manhattan skyline. “My home is my haven in many ways,” Kay says. “Being on the water relaxes me the minute I walk in the door. The subtle neutral palette and furnishings throughout the house coupled with the blue water is a calming and beautiful combination.”

    Homeowner Kay Krill is CEO at Ann Inc.

  • Eric Roth