This article was originally posted by Vogue Magazine ( by: Madeleine Luckel). To see the original version click here.
Supermodel Coco Rocha first burst onto the fashion scene by Irish step dancing down the runway at a Jean Paul Gaultier show. But since her days of—as she puts it—“frilly blouses,” the Zac Posen muse has taken a decidedly modern turn. Nothing evidences this as much as Rocha’s recently remodeled Westchester, New York, home. With its sleek lines and pops of orange, it’s a far cry from the romance of the Irish countryside. Below, the model sounds off on her young family, renovation woes, and her evolving aesthetic.
What originally made you and your husband fall in love with this home?
My husband, James, and I had just finished remodeling a little stone cottage in Westchester. We realized we were kind of addicted to the renovation process, and were ready for a new adventure. When we came across this home, it hadn’t been touched since it was first built in the 1980s. The layout was bizarre, but beyond the glass block windows and dividing walls, we saw beautiful bones that were perfect for our growing family—at the time, our daughter, Ioni, had just been born. The house is also in a great location just outside of New York City, with a magical view over the Westchester tree tops.
Can you tell me a little bit about what the renovation and redecoration process was like?
It was intense—we needed to do a complete gut renovation so that we could rework the layout to an open floor plan. I love how the kitchen, living room, and dining space now open up into one giant 50-foot-long room. We kept the design simple yet contemporary, and got rid of the superfluous, ’80s modern architectural clutter.
Materials were really crucial in terms of bringing the whole look together. Our cabinetry is actually an Ikea hack: James used their frames and customized them with gorgeous walnut doors from SemiHandMadeDoors.com. The Silestone countertops are ultra sleek and durable—I never have to worry about stains when I’m cooking with Ioni, which I love. When it came time to decorate, we decided to start from scratch. We sold or gave away most of the furniture from our cottage and worked from the ground up to find pieces that really fit and complemented the architecture of the new space.
That sounds like a ton of work. Do you have any favorite pieces that you ultimately settled on?
It’s hard to say! I love the European Home gas fireplace we installed. We used the same Silestone that we used for our kitchen counter tops to create cohesion between the two spaces. After having a wood-burning fire for so many years, it’s a world of difference to now have the instant ease of gas. I’m obsessed with the kitchen and its warm walnut doors and spend a lot of time there. In the dining room, we decided to go with a copper theme. We found these great copper chairs from Blu Dot that you have to literally fold like origami to assemble. We paired them with this great copper chandelier from AllModern that looks like some kind of Cold War–era satellite.
What was the most difficult part of the whole process?
Hanging artwork is always the hardest part for us. It’s so funny that we can commit to huge changes in the house fairly easily—like ripping out walls and windows—but hanging those final pieces on the walls takes us weeks of deliberation!
Ha ha, that’s so funny. How did your own sense of style influence the design of your new home?
My sense of style has definitely changed over the years. I remember 10 years ago decorating my first apartment in New York and sourcing all these shabby-chic pieces of antique furniture. At the same time, I was wearing these frilly blouses and girly dresses. Now, I’m all about minimal, clean structured lines in both architecture and in fashion, and my taste in art leans more toward Pop Art than anything else.
The kitchen here is certainly a standout. Are you a big cook?
I love to cook! It’s a skill I’ve been working on over the last few years. After living in New York City for a decade, you can get a little spoiled when it comes to dining out or ordering in. Once I moved up to Westchester, I realized pretty quickly that eating out seven nights a week wasn’t an option. Now, I really look forward to cooking and trying new recipes. My daughter, Ioni, is already getting into it, too, and always wants to “help” me cook, which is adorable.
Your job requires a great deal of travel. What is it that you love most about coming home?
It’s true that as a model I’m constantly traveling. It’s a wonderful perk of the business to get to see so many new and interesting places, but coming back to a house that feels like home is priceless to me. Even when I’m working locally in New York, being able to leave all the noise and hustle and bustle of the city and come home to a serene oasis really is a wonderful thing.
The Bidore 140 adds to the modern design of Coco Rocha’s living room.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
James and I can’t sit still! Now that we’ve finished this modern house, we’re looking for a farm house to renovate, an hour north of Westchester. Our hope is that it could be a getaway retreat for all of our extended family. Of course, it will be another major fixer-upper. Stay tuned. . . .
All photos courtesy of Costas Picadas.
European Home would like to thank Coco Rocha and her husband James Conran for their collaboration on this beautiful fireplace design and installation. We hope it brings you warmth and joy for many years!