From the June/July 2011 Issue:

Natural Evolution

    Writer: Robin Amster | Photographer: Patricia Burke | Designer: Mary Fran Brassard, IIDA | Architect: Jay D. Measley |

A Monmouth County couple take a step-by-step approach to redesigning their home

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enlarge | Left: Mary Fran Brassard created drama in the foyer with a hand-printed wall covering bearing a large-scale croc pattern in rich brown. A piece by artist Sica, whose work features layers of metallic paper, floats in glass, allowing the wallpaper behind it to serve as a kind of mat. Right: Works by artist Keith Haring line the wall of the foyer’s staircase. The custom railing with a vine motif reflects the homeowners’ passion for gardening.
One thing leads to another. Just ask a Monmouth County couple who collaborated with their interior designer on a nearly decade-long project that transformed their comfortable but lacking Sixties-era split-level into the perfect home.

The couple initially took a do-it-yourself approach to redecorating, along with working with an in-store designer, but the results proved unsatisfactory. They eventually hired Mary Fran Brassard of Brassard Design Associates in Little Silver after they admired work she had done for their friends. Brassard is a professional member of the Inter­national Interior Design Association.

What followed was Brassard’s stewardship of a room-by-room transformation that began with the master bedroom. That led to redecorating the dining room, family room and home office, one room at a time. A few years later, the couple added a pool and renovated their gardens. They also freshened the exterior with new siding and windows and a new craftsman-style front entry with a custom front door.

The entire project came full circle when it ended, nearly 10 years later, where it began: with the master bedroom. This time around, though, it involved a major project to create a master bedroom/master bath spa-like retreat in a “bump up” into the home’s attic. Brassard also completed a redesign of the foyer and a more extensive renovation of the living room.

“While still getting to know each other, [client and designer often] start small and then go from there,” Brassard says. “When they’re happy with the results, that’s what spurs them to do more.”

And while the designer allows that the 10-year span for the project might be “a little different than the typical way of doing things,” it made sense in terms of the evolution of the family. The couple began the project while their son and daughter were living at home. With their kids grown and out on their own, they were ready to enter a new stage of their lives with the realization of a retreat featuring more space, more amenities and definitely more style.

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enlarge | The homeowners initially were apprehensive about the designer’s proposal to create a fireplace surround out of horizontal glass tiles that extend almost the entire width of the wall, a move she suggested to “trick the eye” into visually widening the narrow room. The homeowners agreed to the plan and were delighted with the result. Recessed lighting under the mantel, a block of walnut, highlights the array of bronze, taupe, gray and brown tiles. A triptych by artist Sica above the fireplace adds to the drama. Fawn colored cut-velvet slipper chairs pair with a large chow table.
Soft and Sophisticated
“They wanted their bedroom to look fabulous; a new look, a softening, a sophistication, a boutique hotel look,” Brassard says. “Their kids were older, they had traveled, they were ready to decorate.”

Zoning restrictions required that the house remain within its existing footprint so there was nowhere to go but up for the new master suite. Brassard collaborated with architect Jay D. Measley of Rumson, who raised the height of the roof for the suite in what had been attic space. The original master bedroom was turned into a guest room.

The new master suite includes a sitting area with flat-screen TV, ample closet space and a spa-like bath (we published the bathroom in “In Harmony,” August/September 2008, page 175). A large window facing the back of the house gives the couple a grand view of the pool and gardens, Brassard says. “You feel like you’re in a tree house.”

The designer created a tranquil yet sophisticated look in the master suite with soft-edged geometric shapes and luxurious materials. Paired elements — including matching night tables, custom silk pendants and custom club chairs — impart a soothing symmetry and balance, one of the principles of feng shui that Brassard keeps in mind with her designs. The bed’s custom headboard is covered in plush mohair, while silk and etched-velvet throw pillows are done in shades of plum.

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enlarge | A custom wall unit in walnut with a slight wash of white graces one wall of the living room. The deep purple of the amethyst crystal on the shelf, one in the wife’s collection, introduces a range of purple accents found throughout the home.
The Color Purple
Brassard used the plum tones, and a variety of other shades of purple, as accents throughout the home, serving as a subtle thread of color to knit the spaces together. The only space without a purple accent is the family room, a smallish dark room that faces north and doesn’t get much natural light. “You can’t fight what you have,” Brassard says. Here, she chose a dark, rich palette of chocolate, walnut and persimmon to “create an envelope of color where everything is tone on tone, fooling the eye into thinking it’s a larger space.”

Elsewhere, purple accents appear in the dining room in the amethyst shade of a custom table runner and the lavender of the interior of the ceiling’s soffit; in the office, where a custom wood cylinder used as an occasional table is stained rich eggplant; and in a guest room (one used by the daughter when she visits), which includes grayish purple Ultrasuede chairs.

A neutral palette including bronze, charcoal, taupe and mushroom in the living room is punctuated with the deep purple of an imposing crystal — one of many the wife collects — that graces a large bookshelf. Along with the purple accents, Asian artifacts such as sculpted heads on the living room’s coffee table appear throughout the home. Brassard says she and her client share an affinity for a “global look.” The antiquities, she adds, soften the modern design.

Brassard goes beyond “modern” in describing the style of this home. “There are classic elements like the chow-leg table and the slipper chairs in the living room, but they are classic in a soft, warm, modern way,” she says. “I never want to design a room that you can look at and think, ‘That was done in 2005.’ I go for the timeless.”


SOURCES Overall: interior design, Brassard Design Associates in Little Silver; architecture, Jay D. Measley Architects in Rumson; general contractor, Horan Construction in Rumson; stylist, Judi Trammell of Navesink; flowers, DLu Floral Impressions in Red Bank. Foyer: table, PierceMartin by Palecek in Richmond, California; lamp, Boyd in San Francisco through Donghia in Mount Vernon, New York; wall covering, Studio E in New York City; custom stair railing, Newman Iron Works in Brielle; artwork, Artforms Galleries in Woodstock, New York. Living Room: fireplace, design by Brassard Design Associates, custom mantel by Two Rivers Woodworking in Little Silver and glass tile by A Step in Stone in Red Bank with tile installation by Paul Palmiere in West Long Branch; upholstery, A. Rudin in Los Angeles; bookcases, Designers Kitchens in Jackson; cocktail table, Summer Hill in New York City; sconces, Robert Kuo through McGuire Furniture in San Francisco; bronze side tables, Tuell Reynolds in Cloverdale, California; artwork, Artforms Galleries; accessories, Brassard Design Associates. Family Room: Tech lights, Warshauer Electric & Lighting in Tinton Falls; sofa and cocktail tables, Space Interiors in Red Bank; chair, A. Rudin; fireplace, East Coast Energy Products in West Long Branch; custom cabinetry, A.C.T. Inc. in Farmingdale; Tibetan rain drum table, Brassard Design Associates; carpet, Webster Carpet&Rug in Cherry Hill; throw pillows, Brassard Design Associates and Space Interiors; landscapes over the fireplace, Beacon Fine Arts in Red Bank; artwork over sofa, Artforms Galleries. Office: sofa, American Leather in Dallas; chaise, homeowners; desk, Baker; custom cylinder table, Alessandra Cabinetry in Fairfield; Anziano chair, Donghia; carpet, Webster Carpet & Rug; accessories, Brassard Design Associates. Master Bedroom: custom bed, night tables and benches, Brassard Design Associates; lighting design, Tracy Rudd of Warshauer Electric; silk pendant lights, Stonegate Designs in St. Joseph, Michigan; custom window treatments, designed by Brassard Design Associates; artwork above bed, Artforms Galleries; decorative pillows and bedding, Brassard Design Associates; fabrics and wall coverings, Donghia, Osborne & Little in Stamford, Connecticut; John Hutton in Dallas; and Kravet in Bethpage, New York. Guest Bedroom: linens, Joseph Noble fabric through Pollack Associates in New York City and labor by ABC Upholstery in Port Reading; drapery, Fiolek Designs Inc. in North Middletown with Calvin Fabrics in Med�ford, Oregon; bench, Harmonique Home in Berkeley, Cali�fornia; lamps, Artemide in Farmingdale, New York; chair, pedestals and grasses, Space Interiors; Kwan Yin statue, Brassard Design Associates. Dining Room: table, Henredon in Morganton, North Carolina; chairs, Profiles in New York City; artwork, Artforms Galleries. Garden: custom lights, Luna Park Design LLC in Brick; Kwan Yin statue, Brassard Design Associates. Patio: furniture, The Store from River Road in Shrewsbury.

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