From the February/March 2014 Issue:

Embraceable Spaces

    Writer: Ren Miller | Photographer: David Van Scott | Designer: Hope Sferra, CID, Allied ASID |

Designer Hope Sferra adds color and quality to a classically styled Hunterdon home where the owners live life to the fullest

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enlarge | An area rug and stair runner in shades of clear blue and pink (more difficult to find than you might think, the designer notes) personalize a formerly neutral foyer and connect the blues of the living room (shown at right) with the raspberry dining room on the opposite side. Tri-toned damask wall covering provides texture while beefed up molding and porcelain urns and vases on the stair wall add character.
A flashy house to impress visitors? It just wasn’t on the agenda for a Hunterdon County couple who simply wanted a place that reflects their tastes and functions well. With the help of interior designer Hope Sferra, they ended up with a home that impresses visitors anyway, not because of flash but rather for its warmth and approachability.

“The owners value and enjoy their home and use it fully; it’s a real retreat for them,” says Sferra, a state-certified interior designer, allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Hope Sferra Interiors in Summit. “She is an avid cook and wonderful entertainer. They both enjoy the gardens and patio. And during the Christmas season they host a number of parties for family, neighbors and friends.”

For those reasons, Sferra says, her goal was to provide well-designed spaces that work well, including conversation areas that accommodate large and small groups, efficient traffic flow, and materials and finishes chosen for function as well as aesthetics.

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enlarge | The redesign of a classic Hunterdon County home started in the living room, where designer Hope Sferra used a previously purchased rug to set the tone for new upholstery and draperies. She designed a glass-top table so the rug's center medallion wouldn't be hidden.
Personal Stamp
The owners were actively involved in the project, which grew from a consultation on the living room to include the entire home. During the process, Sferra recalls, it became clear the wife embraced vivid, clear colors, especially blue, and that became a theme throughout the home. The colors are uplifting and refreshing,” the designer says.

“The couple also took the long view when it came to furnishing their home and insisted on quality. “They appreciate fine things, have a high level of taste and understand that buying quality furnishings ensures longevity,” Sferra says.

The designer didn’t start with a blank slate. “I was impressed by the quality of construction and attention to detail,” she says. “The house had a wonderful sense of scale and proportion—the rooms are well-sized but not oversized.” Her job was to enhance those good bones.

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enlarge | The entry to the office is directly across the foyer from the front door, so Sferra wanted to keep the line of vision clear to the focal-point fireplace and the rug in front of it. Cherry paneling balances the rug’s vivid sky blue, red merlot and crisp white. She carried those colors up to the uphols­tery, window treat­ments and accessories. Recessed lighting and four sources of task lighting keep the room from feeling too dark as well.
Old New
As the project moved from room to room, Sferra incorporated some of the owners existing furniture into the plan and moved, refinished or reupholstered other pieces along with adding new ones. I am not of the opinion that a room has to be cleared and started anew, she says. However, the elements have to work in regard to proportion and scale, then they have to work in regard to the style, otherwise they stand out like a sore thumb and compromise the entire project.

In the foyer Sferra turned a sea of neutral into a welcoming space with colors that establish a connection between the pink walls of the living room on one side and the blue walls of the dining room on the opposite side.

In the living room, Sferra worked with an existing rug but added new draperies and reupholstered furniture for a more sophisticated look. In the dining room, the table, breakfront and chairs were existing, but Sferra replaced the rug, reupholstered the chair seats, painted the inside of the breakfront walls a soft raspberry and upholstered the walls in a blue, pink and raspberry fabric that ties together the colors in this room and the living room.

In the office at the end of the foyer, sky blue upholstery, draperies and rug keep the cherry paneling from being somber. Recessed lighting in the ceiling and four sources of task lighting, not to mention a large window that looks out onto the landscape, also keep the room from becoming too dark.

The homeowners were satisfied with their original choices for kitchen cabinetry, flooring, countertop and backsplash, so Sferras goal was to incorporate jewel tones that would complement those planned for the adjacent family room. She added green grass cloth to the walls and a red Oriental-patterned valance over the windows and the walls behind the desk.

On the sun porch, she added mahogany paneling and molding to the ceilings, replacing knotty pine that seemed too reminiscent of a cabin for the sophisticated, traditional-style home.

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enlarge | The family room originally had little character with white walls, white stock cabinetry and shelving, and a beige tile fireplace surround. Sferra warmed up the room with a taupe strie finish on the walls, a new aged brick façade and bluestone slab for the fireplace, and new cabinetry designed with an English pub look. The rich blue rug and ruby, emerald and sapphire upholstery complement the jewel tones in the adjacent kitchen. They also balance the light streaming through the windows with a view to the front yard and French doors that look onto the sunroom.
Starting Fresh
While some of the rooms were a study in combining old and new, Sferra started from scratch in others. The family room, for example, originally didn’t relate to the adjacent kitchen. The white walls, white stock cabinetry and beige ceramic tile fireplace surround and hearth were undistinguished. She replaced the fireplace surround with half-inch red brick painted to look aged and chose a bluestone slab for the hearth. She designed new cabinetry to look like an English pub and added a deep sapphire rug to tie in with the jewel tones in the kitchen. For the color scheme to work, she says, she chose a neutral color for the drapery panels and a subdued paisley for the sofa and loveseat. Light flows into the room from a large window on one wall and two French doors that open to the sun porch on the opposite wall.

The first-floor master suite, which will serve the homeowners well in the future if stair climbing ever becomes a challenge, sky murals on the bedroom and bathroom ceilings help to create a retreat atmosphere. “Bedrooms should be soothing and serene,” Sferra says. “The murals reinforce that feeling.”

Throughout the suite, Sferra balanced the owners’ favored blue shades with yellow in complementary patterns in the bedding, draperies, upholstery and wall covering. The same blue and yellow carpeting ties together the bedroom, sitting area and dressing room.

Now that the multiyear project has drawn to a close, how do the owners like the result? Sferra quotes architect Rudolph Schindler, who said in 1936: “We are what our environment makes us, and if our environment is such as to produce excellent health, beauty, joy, and comfort, it will reflect immediately in our lives.”

“After working for these homeowners for over a decade,” she says, “it has become increasingly apparent their home brings them a constant level of joy, comfort and happiness.”


Overall: interior design, Hope Sferra Interiors Inc. in Summit. Foyer: rug and stair runner, J. Herbro Corp. (T) in Fairfield; round table, Southampton Co. in Hickory, North Carolina; loveseat, Hickory Chair in Hickory, North Carolina; urns and vases, Chelsea House/Port Royal in Rocky Mount, North Carolina; chandelier, Troy Lighting in City of Industry, California. Living Room: sofas, Baker in Chicago; blue chairs, fabric by Brunschwig & Fils in Bethpage, New York; benches, Maitland-Smith in High Point, North Carolina; coffee table, designed by Hope Sferra; desk, Councill in Denton, North Carolina. Family Room: sofa, loveseat and console behind loveseat, Southwood Furniture Corp. in Hickory, North Carolina; console and benches at the window, Yorkshire House in High Point, North Carolina; cocktail table, Chaddock in Morganton, North Carolina; chair and ottoman, Hickory Chair; chaise, and window fabric, F. Schumacher & Co. in New York City; sofa table lamps, Chapman Manufacturing in Avon, Massachusetts; carpet, wool Axminster through J. Herbro Carpet. Office: rug, Patterson, Flynn and Martin in New York City; sofa and desk chair, Hancock and Moore in Hickory, North Carolina; wing chairs, Southwood Furniture with fabric by Scalamandré in New York City; desk, Councill. Dining Room: window and wall fabric, Brunschwig & Fils; chandelier, Waterford; table, chairs and breakfront, homeowners. Butler’s Pantry: wall covering, Cowtan and Tout in New York City. Kitchen: counter stools, Bauman Furniture in Wallenstein, Ontario, Canada; table, dining chairs, desk chair, Chaddock; dining chair fabric, Sanderson in New York City; grass-cloth wall covering, Zoffany in New York City; valance and desk nook wall fabric, Brunschwig & Fils; chandelier, Chapman Manufacturing. Sunroom: sofa, chairs, ottoman, dining table and chairs, cocktail table, Lane Venture in Conover, North Carolina; Sunbrella cushion fabric, F. Schumacher & Co.; rugs, J. Herbro. Powder Room: wall covering, Phillip Jeffries in Fairfield; chandelier, Chelsea House/Port Royal; molding, Enkeboll Designs in Carson, California. Master Bedroom: bed, Karges in Evansville, Indiana; linens, custom through the designer’s workroom; bench, Harden in McConnellsville, New York; highboy chest, Councill; carpeting, F. Schumacher & Co.; window treatments, fabric by Travers & Co. through Zimmer-Rohde in New York City and Koplavitch Textiles in Santa Monica, California; other fabrics, Christopher Hyland in New York City and F. Schumacher & Co. Master Bathroom: wall covering and fabric, Cowtan and Tout; ottoman, Century Furniture Co. in Hickory, North Carolina. Master Sitting Room: chairs and ottomans, Hickory Chair Co. Master Dressing Room: chair, Cox Manufacturing Co. in Hickory, North Carolina. Yellow Guest Room: bed and chest, Harden; chairs, Kravet Furniture in New York City, fabric, F. Schumacher & Co. and Kravet; carpeting, J. Herbro. Green Guest Room: all furniture, Century Furniture Co.; wall covering, F. Schumacher & Co.; fabrics, Travers & Co., Christopher Hyland, F. Schumacher & Co.; carpeting, Prestige Mills in Long Island City, New York.

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