New York Designer Lisa Panitz Creates a Perfect Family Retreat in New Albany

Interior designer Lisa Panitz and her husband bought their Central Ohio home after viewing it during a pandemic FaceTime tour. She tapped her professional skills to create an ideal place for family.

Laurie Allen
The home’s sunroom redesign features inspirational greens and other comfortable furnishings. Panitz likes the blank canvas that her home’s white walls offer.

For New Albany interior designer Lisa Panitz, work—like life—is ever-evolving.

“With design, things have always been about change,” she says. But that’s also the case for life in today’s world. “Everything these days is constantly moving,” Panitz continues. “If you can find a way to be comfortable with change, that’s half the battle of life.”

Two years ago, Panitz and her family reframed their lives in significant fashion, moving to Central Ohio from New York, where they had lived in Westchester County and Manhattan’s Upper West Side for almost 30 years.

They bought their New Albany home during the early days of COVID, using only FaceTime to tour the residence. During the 90-minute inspection that followed their offer, Panitz left the mechanicals to her husband, David, while she, armed with a tape measure and her designer’s eye, calculated every space in the house.

“I didn’t buy a single piece of furniture,” she says. “Everything we had just seemed to fit.” In addition to the furniture, the move involved 460 boxes and 20 to 30 crates that Panitz managed to unpack in days. “Everything just happened organically,” she recalls.

The concept of a natural progression appeals to her design aesthetic. “With design, I love the idea of using classics as your foundations but allowing things around you to evolve, depending on where you are living and what is inspiring you at the time,” Panitz explains. In her home, for example, different rooms are used more at different times of the year. “I think a house should evolve by season,” she adds.

When she and her family moved into the 6,350-square-foot Georgian brick home in New Albany, Panitz appreciated its good bones, and she liked its clean canvas of white walls, dark hardwood floors and plenty of natural light. The one exception to the dark flooring was in the long sunroom with its shiny, honey-colored floors reminiscent of gymnasiums. After staining those to match the rest of the home, Panitz began layering the room with a large sisal rug, comfortable white, slipcovered seating and botanical influences, such as throw pillows featuring fern motifs, potted orchids (some faux) and a pair of George Smith velvet ottomans in moss green, one of her favorite colors.

The sunroom has beadboard and brick walls painted white, which sets off unique pieces such as white lacquered furniture and one-of-a-kind, unmatching, large wooden console tables. Vintage blue and white porcelain vessels that she acquired from a dealer in New York provide accents.

“The blue and white is timeless, it’s forever. I try to pull that in with all my clients,” Panitz says.

The blue-and-white theme repeats in the living room where upholstered furniture in three different patterns blends with mix-and-match lamps and a zebra rug layered over sisal. Additional porcelain pieces line shelves on either side of the fireplace and hold more orchids. “We’re in this room most of the winter,” Panitz says.

Related:Lisa Panitz Mixes Old and New Elements for a Holiday Table Setting

In warmer months, the family’s two Airedale terriers, Oliver and Katie, and a rescue border collie mix named Ash can be found lounging on a patio at the side entry or just inside the door, in an area that leads to the kitchen. Dog beds and rugs surround a sleek glass-and-nickel Ralph Lauren table that Panitz brought with her. “I like how the table kind of disappears in the space and is light,” she says.

When it comes to pets and children, Panitz’s relaxed attitude is reflected in her choices. The white slipcovers and the Cambria kitchen countertops make sense. “I just bleach them,” she says of the slipcovers’ cleaning routine. She remembers earlier years, when she fretted over spills, and knicks that marred the marble counters in her previous home. Now she tells her clients: “Don’t be that mother.’’

The New Albany kitchen is all white, with tiles from counter to ceiling. “I have a love for minimal spaces, and the kitchen had that monotone, minimal look that felt right to me when we saw the home,” she says. “We spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, entertaining and just hanging out, and the clean, simple space is the perfect calm environment. I find I function better in a clean, simple kitchen.”

When it comes to livability, lighting is another key element for Panitz. She replaced all fixtures in the home and added soft subtle illumination with picture lights, wall sconces and 15-watt incandescent bulbs. “I really like [the] layering of light, especially at night. I believe lighting is one of the most important aspects of a home and of design,” she says. “It’s a place to make a statement or to finish a space with a more simple statement.”

One of the more dramatic fixtures is a large, crystal chandelier that Panitz brought with her from New York. It hangs over a mahogany pedestal dining table, which her grandparents received as a wedding gift. She fondly recalls spending Friday night around—and under—the table when her grandparents hosted weekly family dinners. “I spent my childhood under the tablecloth,” she says.

Panitz goes to New York several times a month to keep current with the latest design trends and products. She’s also grateful for the talented artisans and craftspeople she has discovered in Central Ohio. Many of her jobs involve renovations, so since arriving in the area she has prioritized establishing relationships with top-notch general contractors. “That was my biggest worry about moving here,” she says.

Her daughters had worries of their own about leaving friends and their family home. “There were lots of tears,” she recalls, but distress levels lowered with time. Daughter Josephine, who is a member of Ohio State University’s swim team, even went to open houses on her parents’ behalf when they couldn’t be there in person. “The ability to embrace change and even enjoy it is something we really wanted our kids to learn,” says Panitz. “I want them to appreciate the fluidity of life.”

Like other interior designers, Panitz had to embrace change in her work during COVID. She remembers one of her first New Albany projects, which she did without leaving her house. “It turned out to be one of my best presentations,” she says.

Her next project at home is to completely overhaul the outdoor space and fashion it after her previous home, a 4,000-square-foot, classic New England white shingle house that originally was the caretaker cottage to a large Westchester estate. “It had a beautiful pool area and many perennial gardens,” says Panitz, who looks forward to capturing the same feel in New Albany. “I’m going to do it my way.”

This story is from the December 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.