From the October/November 2011 Issue:

Energizing the Palette

    Writer: Janet Purcell | Photographer: David Van Scott | Designer: Miriam Ansell, Allied Member ASID, Professional Member IIDA |

Color, pattern and art from around the world invigorate an all-white interior

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enlarge | In the foyer, white porcelain tiles surround a black and white “rug” comprising smaller white porcelain tiles and black glass tiles. A silverplated brass leopard stands beneath an abstract oil painting of Marilyn Monroe while “The Companions”—a pair of larger-than-life male and female cast glass, copper and steel sculptures—adds drama.
It all started in India. A New Jersey couple were debating whether to buy a small decorative box when American interior designer Miriam Ansell walked up and joined in the discussion.

They immediately clicked, say the couple, who own a contemporary home in Monmouth County. When the couple realized they live only an hour from Ansell, “it was a natural, happy progression to have her help us redecorate,” the wife says.

“Our house is contemporary, sporting nine roof lines that manifest themselves in high ceilings and lots of glass,” she says. “However, we’re not super modern aficionados, nor are we in any sense traditionalists. We enjoy the mixture of contemporary, classical and whimsical. Miriam totally ‘got it.’”

Because the homeowners bring back items from their travels around the world, the goal was to showcase the artwork and sculptures that are important to them, says Ansell, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers, a professional member of the International Interior Design Association and principal of Miriam Ansell Interiors in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and New York City.

Ansell pulled the melon, teal and black hues from the little Indian box into the all-white 19-by-20-foot foyer in a painting and sculptures that stand near a curved wall that reaches up to a 16-foot-high ceiling. A white-railed open stairway leads to a bridged walkway to upper rooms.

On one side of the bridge, recessed lighting and sunlight from the foyer give glass blocks a subtle glow. On the other side, the bridge overlooks the great room, which the wife says had been overwhelmingly white. The same Indian box set the color palette here too, with two melon-hued velvet mohair sofas and a coordinating cut-velvet floral ottoman forming a conversation area near the raised-hearth white fireplace. Black and white accents keep this quiet area connected to the white walls that surround it: black fur-trimmed pillows, a small white table with black mirrored top and a black altar table with a cream lacquered top. An unusually dramatic green cactus draws the eye to undressed windows and French doors that open onto white decks with black wrought iron furniture.

The far end of the great room peaks at 22 feet, and there a black baby grand piano shares star status with a 64-by-96-inch framed mirror. Also on that wall are eight pieces of the couple’s favorite art selected from their broad collection and reframed in gloss-black frames.

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enlarge | Designer Miriam Ansell based the melon, teal and black palette for the foyer and great room on the colors in a small lacquered box the homeowners found in India and that now sits on the Lucite and glass cocktail table. A glass and metal sculpture centered on the white-painted stone fireplace picks up the same colors, as does the geometric block-patterned Missoni rug.
Going for Glam
The couple’s love affair with white carries into the dining room, where white walls glitter with embedded silver speckles, rhinestones glimmer in full-length white curtains and a rectangular Swarovski crystal chandelier looks like it’s floating in space. A free-form mirror seemingly framed in white clouds and white silk shag carpet set the stage for the “glam” look Ansell says they wanted to achieve. To that setting they added a brown-toned black bamboo dining table with coordinating straight-back chairs and a distressed buffet where two 26-inch Buddha figurines stand. “When we entertain, we light tea candles in each for a wonderfully exotic ambience,” the wife says. Host and hostess wing chairs upholstered in brown and melon sit at each end of the buffet.

“We kept the furnishings straight and severe to meet the one curved wall and the white softness,” Ansell says. “There’s a peaceful serenity in the room.”

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enlarge | A free-form mirror framed in a white gessoed cloudlike design hangs between a pair of Buddha figurines that stand on a distressed wood buffet. “We thought the buffet was a nice foil to the contemporary bamboo dining table, Swarovski crystal chandelier, gesso mirror and custom silk shag carpet,” the wife says.
Serenity Continuity
That serene mood carries into the kitchen, where Sirrah porcelain tiles continue from the adjacent foyer and where the countertops mix two dark shades of granite: tropical brown on the center island and black on the window wall. One-inch-square Metallica Roma metal tiles on the backsplash tie everything together.

We used black/brown, cream/white, melon and a minimal touch of teal, Ansell says. Theres a continuity of colors in all the rooms. Because you can see the deck from the kitchen, I suggested they paint the rails white and add white umbrellas. That expands the room and gives it a nice, open look.

Lucite and polished chrome counter stools have white leather seats and can be turned to join a corner conversation area. In that corner, two white leather chairs share a round black table and black-and-white leopard-inspired toss pillows and artwork.

Miriam ultimately created the perfect marriage of design elements for us, the wife says. We now have color and pattern in our life. A far and welcome cry from white, white, white.

Janet Purcell, a regular contributor to Design NJ, writes from her home in Hopewell.


SOURCES Overall: interior designer, Miriam Ansell Interiors in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and New York City. Exterior: pond design and installation, Tony Savage of Prestige Trees in Manalapan. Foyer: abstract sculptures, Susan Glott in Phoenix. Living Room: sofas and furniture fabric, pillow fabric and trim, Kravet in Bethpage, New York; ottoman, made by Tim Sullivan of All For You Interiors in Berlin with fabric from Donghia in New York City; occasional table, Profiles in New York City; rug, Stark Carpet in New York City; altar table, Baker Furniture in New York City; fireplace art, “Garden #10,” Scott Jacobson Gallery in New York City. Kitchen: cabinetry, Cabitron Kitchen and Bath in Manalapan; Metallica Roma tiles, Cancos Tile Corp. in New York City; granite countertops, All Granite and Marble Co. in South Plainfield; leather chairs, Motif Home Furnishings in Red Bank (now closed); zebra pillows, Kravet. Dining Room: wing chairs, Robert Allen fabric; mirror, Profiles; window treatments, All For You Interiors with silk fabric and rhinestone trim by Kravet; bamboo table and side chairs and buffet, Laure De Mazieres Home Décor in Miami; custom silk carpet, Carpet Yard in Freehold.

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