Home Tour: A Crisp and Modern Harborside House

DOSSIER: NAME: Christopher Burns TRADE: Interior designer. VIBE: Crisp "new modern" with a mix of periods and styles. ABODE: A new-construction house on Long Island, NY's North Shore.

These days, many homes fall on a sliding scale somewhere between traditional and modern -- and it can be hard to verbalize exactly what that style is. With the design of this new-construction North Shore, Long Island home, designer Christopher Burns has introduced a look he's calling "new modernism." Combining periods, styles, and international pieces, it finds "harmony in disparate items" -- and it's music to our ears.

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Miramar Chair, $1550, Serena & Lily Glass Metal Candle Holder, from $50, Williams-Sonoma Linden Orange 23" Pillow, $35, Crate & Barrel


With the interior architecture of the new home unfinished, Burns designed the millwork, such as cabinetry, molding, and paneling, "to feel both historical and modern." Taking inspiration from the book Houses of the Founding Fathers, he modernized classic American motifs for the contemporary home. In the kitchen, he married sleek elements, like a rich walnut island and hand-glazed subway tiles, with trad details, like gray-veined countertops and a beadboard ceiling. In the mudroom, slate floor tiles were installed on a diagonal, off just so.  "I love the lawlessness of new modernism," he says. "To me, it's freedom to design outside of boundaries, labels, or rules."

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Ralph Lauren Montauk Pendant, $2419, AllModern 6th Avenue White Gloss 3" x 6" Tile, Price Upon Request, Walker Zanger Noe Trellis Rug in Sage, from $139, One Kings Lane


"It was important to the clients for the home to feel young and stylish, yet classic and timeless," he says. To create that balance, he incorporated a variety of styles, including everything from Early American Colonial to modern, accenting with midcentury furniture, country rustic heirlooms, and French antiques. In addition to mixing antiques and new furniture, he integrated custom pieces that transitioned between the two. "For the powder room," he says, for example, "we modeled the vanity after an antique Biedermeier chest -- but with a modern slant."

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Mongolian Lamb Stool, $999, Pfeifer Studio Robert Abbey Egg Blue Ceramic Lamp, $210, Lamps Plus Lulu Cotton Carpet, from $450, Madeline Weinrib


A palette of bright whites, cool blues, and warm oranges runs throughout the space, which looks both fresh and appropriate for a coastal dwelling. With few busy patterns to speak of, it's "crisp and modern, while anchored in a timeless sense of history," he says. Just the kind of place we'd love to call home.

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Eames Molded Plastic Dowel-Leg Side Chair, $399, DWR Stripe Duvet Cover, from $40, West Elm Jonathan Adler Ventana Tripod Lamp, $551, YLighting

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Photographs: Christopher Burns Interiors