Ken Gemes in the Westchester Showhouse

How do you transform a huge 1915 marble floored, and heavily curtained living room into a bright, warm, and elegant family social space? Just ask Ken Gemes of Ken Gemes Interiors. From the moment he saw the ornate living space in this historic 1915 mansion, Ken “could immediately see how [he] would do it.”

Designing for the 2013 Westchester Showhouse benefitting Cerebral Palsy of Westchester, Ken was inspired by the historic architecture of the home. “The detail in the room is incredible. I didn’t want to ignore the intricacy of the plaster moldings in the ceiling and on the walls, but at the same time I didn’t want the room to feel dated and old. The challenge was the balance; to make the room feel young, hip, and inviting, but still have a historic feeling as well.”

overview ken gemes room

Ken was immediately drawn to the living room not only for its grandeur, but also its function as a social gathering space. Designing with this aspect of a home’s functionality in mind, Ken creates spaces that are both open and warm, and invite people to gather in groups.

“My biggest objective was to take a grand room, and show how it could serve as a young family’s living room. I wanted it to have three separate areas that people actually would use.”

ken gemes stratum sisal window chairs

“One of the biggest challenges of the room was how to transform that enormous white marble floor into something that was going to be more livable and inviting and make the room cozier. The floor itself was magnificent but it was very cold and overwhelming.

warm seating area ken gemes sisal

“When I explained the space to Roxanne, Merida’s Director of Business Development, she said ‘We have a new material that is a herringbone sisal, and we can seam it, we can give you whatever size you want.’ So when we ended up with a 33 foot wide by 18 foot long Stratum rug, it pretty much solved all of our problems. Merida rugs for me are like working with a natural material–it’s almost like a wood. You’re layering in texture and you have this beautiful backdrop but it’s not an attention getting thing, it’s one of the elements that tend to make everything sing or work together.”

sisal stratum closeup grey

When interior designers work on a showhouse, there may be a temptation to pay less attention to the usability of the space. Ken, however, works in such a way that social interactions are always at forefront of his design ideas. This allowed him to create a warm living space while also creating a stunning design that defines his aesthetic.

The Westchester Showhouse is open until June 9th, and located at 2 Cooper Road in Scarsdale NY. Stop by and check out Ken’s fantastic work and the rest of this exciting showhouse.

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