Following six successful years at a high-end New York City interiors firm, designer Rajni Alex launched her own business as founder and principal of Rajni Alex Design. Drawing from years of experience in luxury design, and an early career spent traveling the globe, Rajni references a mélange of different styles in her design work—Chinoiserie, French Provincial, Art Deco—while effortlessly integrating her signature aesthetic. Today, Rajni leads a team of elite designers in the charming village of Bronxville, New York.
Enchanted by Rajni’s elegant interiors and prodigious use of Gabby, we asked the designer to divulge the details of her design inspirations behind her latest project—a stunning family home in Bronxville. Read on for Rajni’s take on designing for a large family, the perfect designer-approved shade of white paint, and why travel will always be her greatest source of inspiration.
Bronxville, NY comprises only one square mile of land. What makes this small village so charming? Why did your client choose to reside in Bronxville?
The quaint village of Bronxville is absolutely charming but I think the number one reason it’s so alluring is because of its close proximity to New York City. It’s a peaceful, green oasis that offers the ease of suburban living, yet only minutes from metropolitan life. Our client has four children, three of which are school aged. Living in a community like Bronxville, removed from the hustle and bustle and tight quarters of a busy city, also allows a homeowner space – quite necessary for a family of six!
From where do you draw design inspiration? Travel, art, architecture, film, literature, etc? Are there particular sources that played into the design of this home?
A lot of my design inspiration is drawn from my travel experiences. I am from India originally and I studied in London before becoming a flight attendant for Singapore Airlines – my first career allowed me to travel the world and learn about many different cultures. This not only fed my mind but fed my soul and shaped my design aesthetics from the very beginning.
The architectural features of this particular home played a major role in the interior design. The overhang porch, while beautiful, limited the amount of natural light on the first floor (in the living room and dining room especially). We had to overcome this by choosing a soft color palette to brighten the space, helping us to create a light and airy feel.
Your client has a large family, including four children under age ten. How did the family dynamic inform your design choices?
We wanted the home to look and feel beautiful but it was just as important that the design be functional and family friendly. A lot of the materials we used were influenced by this — we incorporated indoor/outdoor fabrics and area rugs throughout. The client also had every item of furniture treated to protect against staining.
Did you select special elements for specific family members?
Both of my clients work and sometimes they find themselves working from home. Given the sunroom was a natural gathering space – cozy, warm and sunny – we wanted it to be a multi-functional room with a designated office area. This way, either parent could work on their computer while kids played or watched television. To make this room as inviting as possible, we added a built-in media center with lots of storage (great for hiding away “kid things” like books, toys, board games and messy arts and crafts) – just stash these items away when entertaining!
You mentioned that the home is naturally “dark”. What causes this shadowy interior? Architecture, outdoor foliage, etc?
The architecture and it’s exterior roof overhang causes the first floor of the house to appear dark.
Many designers are constantly seeking the ‘perfect’ shade of white paint. What is your go-to shade? Did you use this wall color in the living room?
My go-to shades of white are Benjamin Moore OC-65 Chantilly Lace and OC-145 Atrium White. I use these shades of white consistently and in this particular house we used Chantilly Lace, which we used to brighten the walls in the living room and entry foyer.
Are Gabby products featured anywhere in the home? Which Gabby products did you select for this project?
YES! In fact, we incorporated a lot of Gabby products throughout this home. We used a combination of Willow Swivel Chairs and Weston Chairs in the living room as well as the Irene Nesting Tables in the living room. In the dining room we incorporated the Chelsea Demilune which we styled as a bar. The front door in the entry foyer was flanked by two Lynne Ottomans. We selected the Kenzie Ottoman to serve as a coffee table in the sunroom. We even installed a Kensington Chaise in the master bedroom to create a cozy reading space. I suppose I really love and trust the craftsmanship of Gabby!
What is on your agenda for 2018? Are there any interesting new projects that you would like to share?
We have some exciting renovation projects on the docket for 2018! The good thing about living in the northeastern part of the country is that there’s lots of old housing stock in need of renovation. It’s really interesting to see these old homes take on a new fresh appearance. I have a more modern aesthetic so the transformations (before and after) can be really incredible. I’m sure we’ll find a place for more Gabby furnishings in some of these new projects, too!