From the December/January 2012 Issue:

The Trimming Season

    Writer: Robin Amster | Photographer: Wing Wong | Designer: Marlene Wangenheim, Allied Member ASID, AKBD | Designer: Mary Brennan, Professional Member ASID | Designer: Maureen Fiori, Allied Member ASID, AKBD |

Three designers stretch the budget to improvise a lush holiday decorating scheme for the Park Avenue Club

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enlarge | The cozy, informal Charity Pub has a traditional red, green and gold holiday color scheme. Gold wrapped “gifts” sit by the fireplace, whose mantel bears green garlands, curly branches sprayed gold, red poinsettias and small lights. Sconces are wrapped in red ribbons.
The holiday season is the perfect time to give back, so it proved especially appropriate for three interior designers to donate their creative energies to give the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park a festive fitting for the holidays last year.

Marlene Wangenheim, a member of the club and principal of Interiors by Design in Morristown, spearheaded the project. Wangenheim is an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and an Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer. She enlisted two good friends and colleagues to work with her: Mary Brennan, principal of M. Brennan Design Associates in West Milford and a professional member of ASID, and Maureen Fiori, principal of Maureen Fiori LLC in Franklin Lakes, allied member of ASID and AKBD.

“It’s all about giving,” Wangenheim says. “I like the idea that I can give back to a club that gives so much.” A 100-year-old former dairy barn renovated and transformed into a private dining club, the facility offers its members social and networking events. Along with these traditional functions, it is a benefactor to several charitable organizations through its Park Avenue Foundation.

“The Park Avenue Club is so fortunate to have such talented designers dedicating their time and efforts to support the mission of our club and to give back,” Executive Director Michael A. Frodella says. The club ( provides support to 11 charities, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the Morris Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics of New Jersey.

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enlarge | A menorah placed in the club’s main dining room widens the focus of the holiday decorations. The chrome menorah is surrounded by greenery, silver mesh ribbons, blue ornaments and gold coins. Glass votive holders, with a silverleaf look, highlight the arrangement.
Team Effort
As a non-profit, the club had a very limited decorating budget when Wan­genheim and company first decorated it for the 2009 holidays. The designers used a traditional red, green and gold color scheme and worked with whatever was on hand: “a lot of bows and greens,” Wangenheim remembers.

For the 2010 season, the club charged the designers with creating a less Christmas-specific theme and a more universal holiday look. In keeping with that request, the designers expanded the color palette to include blue, bright green, silver and white. What didn’t change, however, were the budget constraints, so the designers borrowed items from the club and brought in personal pieces in addition to what they could purchase. Wangenheim credits Rocco Scanniello, the club’s maintenance supervisor, as an invaluable resource and facilitator for the project, which included decorating about nine spaces.

“Much of what we designed was budget-driven,” Fiori says. “We looked for items that gave us a lot of bang for the buck.” The key was improvisation, she adds. When the color scheme changed in 2010, for example, “We bought single-color ornaments in bulk and creatively altered some of them. As a group we looked at a particular area and decided what colors would be removed, what colors would stay and what colors would be added. Then, armed with scissors, wire cutters and glue guns, we went to work, improvising every step of the way.”

Wangenheim calls her work with Fiori and Brennan “a high-energy collaboration; we just bounce things off each other.” Brennan adds that the collaboration is “very natural.” “Because we agreed upon our overall concepts and the level of sophistication we wanted to achieve, it allowed us to think outside the box when it came to the individual ideas and how to execute them,” she says. “Like a springboard effect, each idea we shared became more fully evolved when we all gave our input and energy to it.”


SOURCES Holiday Design: Interiors by Design in Morristown, M. Brennan Design Associates in West Milford and Maureen Fiori LLC in Franklin Lakes; millwork, Millwork & More in Bernardsville.

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