From the April/May 2011 Issue:

New American Classic

    Writer: Meg Fox | Interior Designer: Tess Giuliani Designs Inc. | Photographer: Peter Rymwid |

Handcrafted details conjure up another time and place in a new home tailored for modern living

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enlarge | Built in the tradition of noted architect Robert A.M. Stern, the new Shingle-style house recalls the hallmarks of old-time craftsman­ship expressed in natural, durable materials and layers of detail. The iron gate—custom designed as a stylized tree—introduces the homeowner’s love of nature and sense of whimsy, designer Tess Giuliani says.
The impetus behind an architecturally grand Bergen County home began with a simple photo, recalls principal space planner and interior designer Tess Giuliani. Simple may be an understatement given the magnitude of the project, but the photo captured the essence: a Shingle-style American classic built in the tradition of noted architect Robert A.M. Stern.

“It was this iconic American architectural style” the owners envisioned for the exterior and interior of their new home, says Giuliani, whose firm is Tess Giuliani Designs Inc. in Ridgewood. After purchasing property near their former residence, the second-time clients called on Giuliani to design their new home from the ground up. A publication of Stern’s work served as inspiration. “From that book and a picture of a house in Amagansett, we selected all the desired details,” Giuliani says.

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enlarge | Cobalt appliances and multicolored glass, ceramic and brass tiles energize the cherry kitchen. Stained-glass panels highlight upper cabinets. Arched openings connect the kitchen to the adjacent family room, decorated in a complementary color palette.
Planning Stages
Interviews with the clients and a designer-generated survey seeking their likes, must-haves, or expectations for each room yielded umpteen pages of design criteria in the two-year planning stage. “I needed to understand how they wanted each room to work and how it should feel,” the designer says. At the time, the couple had three children, but now there are four. “Remember the old adage ‘new house, new baby,’” Giuliani enthuses. Two large dogs round out the household.

With all its complexities, architectural details and level of artistry, the house—built by project manager Joseph DePauw and general contractor George Smith—took 3 1/2 years to complete. Color expert Amy Wax, founder of Your Color Source Studios Inc. in Montclair, served as a valuable resource in the selection of colors and finishes in the four-level home, Giuliani says. “Each floor is designed with specific functions, and every room has a unique personality,” she adds.

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enlarge | In a large kitchen, the same cabinetry can get redundant, designer Tess Giuliani says. Instead, she designed two furniture-style buffets in the breakfast portion of the room for added interest and function. The doors on one pantry, which were “reverse hand-painted and gilded on hand-blown glass,” reflect foliage from the four seasons in holly, willow, dogwood and oak motifs, glass designer Jay DeMauro says. Giuliani designed the breakfront around the see-through iron butterfly accent she positioned at center. This assured an open connection to the mother’s adjacent home office, otherwise known as command central. The glowing orb chandelier at far left in photo on the opposite page was hand-blown by 12 glass artists.
Enchanted Entry
The entry vestibule’s woodland mural establishes a smooth transition from the exterior gardens. Hand-painted on Belgian linen by Ridgewood artist Ornella Muth, the mural captures the feeling of “standing in a forest looking out,” which the homeowners envisioned, Giuliani says.

Walking through the foyer—with its finely crafted mahogany walls, archways and cove ceiling detail—is like stepping back in time. “Sometimes it’s hard to believe the house is just four years old,” Giuliani says. First-time visitors often try to decipher which part of the house was part of a renovation, she adds. Floors are quarter-sawn oak with custom walnut inlays. The husband designed the patterned inlay in the foyer. “He has a keen eye for architectural lines and details,” the designer says.

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enlarge | The family’s collection of antique Persian and Turkish rugs lends a colorful, native-like feel to the family room, which is furnished with no-fuss slipcovers and motorized window shades. The names of the couple’s four children and the year the house was built can be found in the puzzle-like tile placement on the fireplace surround. Whimsical lamps behind the sofa mimic plants.
Signature Statement
Stained-glass doors and cabinets add another layer of character to the new old house. “My clients love stained glass,” so specific rooms were designed to take some type of decorative glass, Giuliani says. “When designing rooms of interest and soft drama, you have to keep that balance throughout the house or some rooms pale and lose their energy,” she says. The team collaborated with Jay DeMauro, owner of Artique Glass Studio Inc. in Glen Rock, to bring their ideas to fruition. “Jay is a genius with glass,” Giuliani says.

Another of the home’s signature design elements is the couple’s collection of antique Persian and Turkish rugs. Prized for their beauty, rarity and unique compositions, “the carpets are like fine art,” similar to treasured paintings that command attention or that you decorate around, Giuliani says.

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enlarge | Soft contemporary lines, beautiful fabrics and sculptural forms create a sophisticated, comfortable living room. An antique family cabinet holds a collection of porcelain birds. Standing seven feet tall, the curvy pleated silk lamp is intriguing by day and magical at night when lit. Giuliani chose a transparent coffee table with an acrylic base and beveled glass top so the beauty of the carpet can be appreciated fully. Antique rugs are like fine art that you decorate around, she says.
Colorful Expression
Balancing the timeless architecture is a decorating style that emphasizes the wife’s eye for color and artistry. Bold and energized color is often derived from area rugs, but there’s a rhythm and flow of colors that vary in intensity from room to room. “There is a real feeling of connection,” says Giuliani, who insisted on open site lines between rooms so nothing remains stagnant.

Blue, one of the wife’s favorite colors, is often accompanied by shades of green. In the warm cherry kitchen, for example, cobalt appliances and frosted pendants provide a punch of color against pale green granite countertops and muted green tile floors. The dining room’s more vivid green palette is “daring, but right for the room,” Giuliani says, partly because of its sunny exposure and connection to the home’s park-like landscape.

Reflections on family and love of nature are everywhere. Look for the children’s names and the date the house was built in the puzzle-like fireplace surround in the family room. Stained-glass doors in one kitchen breakfront take inspiration from a favorite iris watercolor that belonged to the wife’s grandmother. Doors in another breakfront pay homage to vintage botanical prints reflecting the four seasons: holly, willow, dogwood and oak.

“She is a fall person,” Giuliani says when describing the wife’s fondness for autumn-like themes and colors. In the powder room, for instance, an abstract mosaic depicts turning leaves in all their glory. The homeowner fell in love with the mosaic after spotting it in a catalog, Giuliani says. Measuring 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide, the glass tile makes a dramatic statement in a medley of reds, oranges, golds and greens. Giuliani complemented the serene scene with a custom vanity made of African rosewood and borrowed the idea for the granite countertop’s flared edges from an Asian altar in her own home. A bronze-tone vessel sink and organic-inspired fixtures tend to disappear into the natural setting. (This room captured a National Design Award from the National Kitchen & Bath Association in 2009).

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enlarge | The dining room overlooks the home’s park-like landscape. The homeowner designed the chandelier, which combines antique crystal pendants with contemporary geometric rectangles. Stained-glass doors in the foreground reflect the room’s natural light.
Modern Living
A combination of adult- and kid-friendly spaces makes everyone feel at home in the six-member household — from the quiet mahogany-paneled library to the high-spirited balloon-theme room designed to let imaginations soar. And when it gets down to managing the daily comings and goings of a busy active family, the mudroom does it in style with a combination of open and closed storage solutions and practical bench seating.

The designer also carved out space above the garage for a doggie retreat with storage for pet food and paraphernalia. With rubber tile floors and a shower for rinsing off pets, “the room is indestructible,” the designer says. As for the ease in bathing dogs, the pet-loving family appears to go with the flow judging from the quote the mom stenciled above the window. It reads: “Anybody who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.”

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enlarge | Doors, primarily fabricated in combinations of clear textured glass, “act as the book cover,” introducing the kids’ whimsical balloon-theme room, glass designer Jay DeMauro says.
Past Meets Future
Designing the house was a “tour de force,” combining authentic architectural design with today’s most advanced technology, Giuliani says. “This is a Smart House,” she says, complete with computer-controlled sound, light, temperature, window shades, media components and more. The husband researched all possibilities with Electronics Design Group of Piscataway, which designed and implemented the computer system. “The result is amazing … a marriage of the past and the future,” she says.


SOURCES Overall: principal space planner and interior designer, Tess Giuliani Designs Inc. in Ridgewood; builder/general contractor, George A. Smith in Oakland; builder/project manager, Joseph DePauw in Port Chester, New York; color consultant, Amy Wax of Your Color Source Studios Inc. in Montclair; lighting design, Robert Newell Lighting Design in Westfield; Smart House technology, Electronics Design Group in Piscataway. Exterior: landscape architect, Deborah Cerbone Associates Inc. in Rockaway; gates, driveway and front path, La Forge de Style LLC in South Hackensack; peacock fountain, sculptor Julia Stratton in Philadelphia. Foyer: mahogany woodworking, (here and throughout house) Culin & Colella Inc. in Mamaroneck, New York; stained-glass doors, Jay DeMauro of Artique Glass Studio Inc. in Glen Rock; antique rugs, Nicholas Wright of East of the Bosphorus in Williamstown, Massachusetts; antique Murano chandelier and English reproduction sconces, Lampworks in New York City (T); trumpet-like Murano chandeliers, La Murrina in New York City (T); metallic paint, Modern Masters Inc.; mural, Ornella Muth in Ridgewood. Kitchen: design, Tess Giuliani Designs Inc.; cabinetry and hood, Ulrich Inc. in Ridgewood; hand-painted bronze finish on hood; Ornella Muth; leaded-glass-front cabinets, Artique Glass Studio Inc.; appliances, Viking ovens, GE micro­wave; countertop, Coast Green granite through Fordham Marble in Stamford, Connecticut; nickel and glass ceiling fixtures, Lampworks; floral display, Folly, Flowers & Joy in Ridgewood. Breakfast Room: custom breakfronts, Ivan Schettino through Tess Giuliani Designs Inc.; iron butterfly accent in green buffet, Happy Tuesday in Ridgewood; swivel chairs, Baker; chandelier above dining table, Williams-Sonoma; hand-blown Window Murrini orb fixture, designed by Deborah Czeresko from Site Specific Art Management Inc. (T) in New York City. Powder Room: custom vanity; Ivan Schettino through Tess Giuliani Designs Inc.; glass mosaic tile, Sicis in Italy; vessel sink and fixtures, Hardware Designs in Fairfield. Family Room: sofas, Pottery Barn; area rugs, East of the Bosphorus; framed artwork and photography (here and throughout), Opus One & Art Gallery in Ridgewood; hand-painted ceiling fixture, Lampworks; amber sconces, Foundry in New York City (T); motorized shades (here and throughout), Window Modes Ltd. in New York City (T); wall color, Aventurine (AF-445) by Benjamin Moore. Living Room: drapery and valances, designed by Tess Giuliani Designs Inc. with fabric and fabrication by Lillie K in Ridgewood; decorative bird and leaf drapery hardware, Lillie K; area rug, East of the Bosphorus; sofa and chairs, Baker with custom fabric; sculptural floor lamp, Aqua Creations in New York City; piano, Bosendorfer; organic-shaped end tables, Culin & Colella Inc.; wall paint, Honeymoon (AF-345) by Benjamin Moore; floral display on mantel, Folly, Flowers & Joy. Dining Room: leaded-glass French doors, Artique Glass Studio Inc.; table and chairs, Thomas Moser with custom fabric; custom cherry china cabinet, Ivan Schettino through Tess Giuliani Designs Inc.; wall paint, Vienna Green (538) by Benjamin Moore; floral table design, Folly, Flowers & Joy. Library: cabinetry and wood­­working, Culin & Colella Inc., leaded-glass doors, Artique Glass Studio Inc.; mahogany electric shades, Window Modes Ltd.; painted coffered ceiling, Ornella Muth; antique brass chandelier, Ralph Lauren; antique brass andirons, early twentieth century; antique brass sconces on mantel, manufactured by Caldwell; antique brass mirrored acorn sconces, Camelot Home Furnishings in Ho-Ho-Kus. Balloon-Theme Room: mural, Ornella Muth; cabinetry and built-in window seats, Ivan Schettino through Tess Giuliani Designs Inc. Mudroom: cabinetry, Ivan Schet­tino through Tess Giuliani Designs Inc. Dog Retreat: cabinetry, Ulrich Inc.; blue rubber tile, V&S Floor Covering Inc. in Midland Park; valance, designed by Tess Giuliani Designs Inc. and fabricated by Lillie K. T=To the trade.

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