Permits in hand, our contractor and his band of merry renovators are about to begin taking down walls, the first step in the rehabilitation of our newly purchased Montclair apartment. Paying close attention to the many rules of the building and taking into account the sensitivities of our neighbors, they will endeavor to get the work done as quickly and cleanly as possible. Of course, in a building as old as this (1901), there are bound to be surprises along the way. I will keep you posted with frequent updates on the twists and turns in this home improvement melodrama as it progresses.
Large rows of parallel windows form a semi-circle at one end of this great room, the lofty ceiling inset atop a shelf style soffit. The ceiling is sprinkled with tiny fiber optic lights, which produce a planetarium-like starry sky effect at night. I centered the modern furnishings in the room, with back to back sofas and chaise/bench pieces offering views of the ceiling and surrounding grounds. The sofas can easily seat 14. The custom oversize rug is a substantial 36 feet long, a layer of warmth over the stone floor. The greige color scheme provides a clean canvas which highlights the wood pieces—card table, cocktail table, end tables, oversize console and ottoman with tray tops. With it’s dramatic views and sleek, modern furnishings, the space exudes a sense of occasion, ready for grand gatherings or intimate tête-à-têtes.
I created this light, comfortable and attractive family room thorough the use of color, simplicity and proportion. The palette is light grey with blue green accents, which gives the room an unconfined, buoyant feel. The custom grey wool rug may be on the floor, but the effect is like a magic carpet, lifting the furnishings. The two sofas use a bench seat, mirrored by the bench across from the large, equally sleek ottoman, to further untether the design. The only anchored pieces are the wood credenza and unusually shaped bookcase, which provide balance and visual focus. The only pattern is on the twin swivel chairs, but the plaid is subdued, subtle, and does not detract from the blissful appeal of this lighter than air space.
As we arrive at the studio after the first snowfall of the New Year, I find myself looking wistfully back at this image taken from the upstairs terrace of my client’s home in Short Hills in late summer. I have shared images of the inside of the home here, here and here, but this outside photo shows the idyllic layout of the grounds, with the pool, outdoor seating area and separate dining area partially hidden by the wrought iron gate. The cooking space is just out of the picture to the left, which includes wraparound seating for those who want to eat and drink near the BBQ action. Oh, and the roses which look so appealing are, in fact, in permanent bloom, due to my supplier’s uncanny ability to replicate nature.
This 60s ranch was the subject of a complete restoration, opening up the plan so the living room, dining room and kitchen share an airy, unfettered space. The style is modern, framed by large picture windows that flood the home with light. I’ve worked with these clients on multiple homes, and the reused furnishings work quite well in this environment. The new wood floor has an ebony finish and the inset gas fireplace fits into the stone wall below the flat screen TV. Scones either side of the TV add ambient lighting and the cocktail table is wrapped in natural grasscloth. The project is in the final stages and I’ll post pictures soon that highlight the open plan. The effect is clean and spacious, the white palette accenting the plentiful light and streamlined comfort.
At one end of my client’s generous sized kitchen, with pearwood cabinets and granite top, is a stylish dining area overlooking a well-tended garden. In the foreground is a bar that can serve gatherings in the adjacent family room. The dining area is anchored by a large clean-lined cabinet painted in antique gray. Stored in the side doors are phone chargers, laptops, and other electronic essentials, with the table as a convenient desk. Panels are a Jim Thompson fabric that gives a soft look to this light infused space that’s equally convenient for work or play.
Here I’m doing what I do virtually everyday—working with a contractor on architects drawings. With one big difference: these plans are for my dream apartment in Montclair. I’ve posted about our move here. It’s a novel experience, being the client and designer. I like it. We’ll be doing extensive renovation: two new baths, new kitchen, central AC. There will be built in bookcases by my master cabinet maker. Existing walls will be taken down, and by combining kitchen and dining room I’ll free space for a second guest bedroom and studio for my forays into painting. Challenges include rerouting heating pipes, which at the moment bisect my guest bedroom’s bed. My intrepid contractor has solved much weightier problems than this, so I’m not worried. Permits are being pulled as we speak, and I’ll share all the trials and tribulations along the way.
When I first saw my client’s renovated farmhouse I was intrigued by the unusual layout. A stone double fireplace juts into the living room like the prow of a ship. The hand-hewn beams on the ceiling and walls add further character, while the open plan offers interesting possibilities. In short, I couldn’t wait to get started.
The family loves the outdoors, and they wanted a useful, understated, attractive design using durable materials. Working in counterpoint to the colonial era framework, the design features a lively mix of the contemporary and traditional.
Upon entering you see an inset wood burning stove faced by four club chairs in textured wool with brown leather seats. My first nod to the outdoors is the animal skin-like fabric covering the chairs, and an animal skin rug that helps define the seating area. The trays atop the ottomans provide storage or, when flipped, allow for comfortable leg stretching. A more traditional skirted table and chair provide the link to the second of the three seating areas. This alcove, with the second inset fireplace, is dominated by the baby grand piano, with a large ottoman covered in another pattern of faux animal. There is one fabric used on all the windows, a linen with embroidered diamond pattern.
Across the room is the final seating area, with comfortable sofa, two oversized leather ottomans and quilted leather swivel chairs. The ottomans with their leather straps are evocative of a bygone age of travel, perhaps an African safari. The whole room has echoes of outdoor adventure, combined with an up to date elegance.
The large windows and polished wood floors of this cozy living area encouraged me to create a softly atmospheric haven, filled with pale gold, green, blue and cream tones. The Barbara Barry cocktail table, side tables and chairs add additional wood accents and sophisticated style. The light touch of the furnishings continues with the patterned wool rug and pillows, and the tufted fabric on the comfortable swivel chair. There is a sweet, subtle beauty to the space that’s irresistible.
We’ve made considerable progress on my client’s large, open plan kitchen. Walls have come down, a ceramic tile floor has been installed, and most cabinetry and countertops are in place. The ceramic flooring looks like stone but is easier to maintain, helpful given the habits of young children and pets. The island offers plenty of storage and will seat five; a dining table out of the photo will seat twelve. One cabinet in the rear of the top photo is the pantry, the other opens to a desk with plugs for multiple cel phones, iPads, etc. A wine cooler fits underneath. In the center next to the space for the fridge is a built-in Miele coffee maker with water supply piped in.
In the bottom photo four floating stone shelves will be set on a fully tiled wall with indirect LED lighting. The sleek Mieli gas range has a three in one oven: microwave, rapid cook and normal, plus a warmer drawer.
This state of the art kitchen will offer beauty and convenience in equal measure. I’ll post photos as soon as it’s done.