September 25, 2023

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Your Dream House

Meet the winner of the Times Union Home Design Contest

Meet the winner of the Times Union Home Design Contest

When Andrea Zappone was 12 years old, she decorated her bedroom with antiques. She picked up items at yard sales and adjusted until it matched her vision. But the framed photos of her friends and family didn’t match the aesthetic. She replaced them with pictures in antique frames of long-dead family ancestors.

Zappone laughs at the memory, but says it was just one of many designs she came up with for her childhood room. Now grown, with children of her own, Zappone is hoping to launch an interior design career.

Zappone is the grand prize winner of this year’s Times Union Home Design Contest. Her entries, all drawn from her own home – the master bathroom, kitchen, living room and her daughter’s bedroom – swept all the categories in this year’s contest, as determined by visitors to the Times Union Facebook page. A panel of judges — Robert Rufino, style director for House Beautiful, and interior designers Brendan Flanigan and Afton Beattie — chose Zappone’s kitchen as the grand prize entry. Zappone’s work will be featured in the digital version of House Beautiful.

In 2019, Zappone and her husband, Mike, hired Belmonte Builders to build them a home in Saratoga Springs. They had the opportunity to design the house themselves. Zappone describes her house as a Colonial and says she likes mixing modern touches and unexpected elements. For example, an abstract black and white mural wraps around the stairs in the entryway where a table sits on a faux fur throw rug.

The couple have a 4 year-old son, James, and a daughter, Rita, who is almost 3. They are expecting their third child in August.

Going in, Zappone knew she wanted arches throughout her home and lots of windows – even in her bathroom. Mechanical shades that go up and down with the press of a button provide instant privacy, Zappone says. She planned marble for the floor in the bathroom until she saw the cost. She changed direction and chose inexpensive black and white tile instead, installed in four sets of contrasting geometric patterns. It’s her favorite part of the room. Two oak vanities warm up the space, and a taxidermied deer — an eight-point buck — looks on serenely from a wall adjacent from the tub. Surprise!

The kitchen, Zappone emphasizes, was not designed for cooking. She and her husband are not cooks; she chose the range because she likes the way it looks. White subway tile and a marble island lighted by pendant lamps complete the look. A breakfast nook, framed by an arch, was wallpapered with a print inspired by 1950s Palm Springs featuring a green willow tree bough. Practicality drove Zappone’s decision on the banquette—the gray-beige vinyl is easy to wipe down after kids have been eating there, Zappone says. She chose a table made from engineered wood that is also easy to clean.

The living room is finished in whites, neutrals and natural wood. There are two recessed panels to the left and right of the fireplace, each covered in a grass cloth wallpaper.


A design by Sensory Six is the winner of the kitchen category of the Times Union Home Design Contest after the judges chose Andrea Zappone’s kitchen design as the grand prize winner (Zappone also won the bathroom, bedroom and living room categories). The design is centered around the a 48-inch Miele range. Quartz was used for the counters and backsplash. An open layout gives the clients the ability to look out into their great room and the large floor to ceiling windows that capture the view outside. (Photo: Randall Perry)

“The room is wired for motorized blinds, but as we were approaching the installation, we decided to leave the windows uncovered. We love the light and the view,” Zappone says.

When it came to her daughter’s bedroom, Zappone faced some resistance: she wanted it to be blue. Rita wanted pink and black. Zappone made it work with a pink and black floral wallpaper above half wall of applied molding. A geometric mirror hanging above the crib gives the room a modern twist. Plans Zappone has in mind for finishing other rooms in the house are on hold during the coronavirus quarantine.

Before having children, Zappone worked in software sales. Her plan moving forward is to return to the workforce as an interior designer.

“I’m banking on an easy newborn,” she said.

[email protected]518-454-5352@leighhornbeck

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