From the April/May 2014 Issue:

Suburban Chic

    Writer: Judy Jeannin | Photographer: John Ferrentino | Designer: Rachel Minaya |

Designer Rachel Minaya comes to the rescue when a young family moves from the city to a traditional home in Tenafly

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enlarge | The David Weeks mobile-style chandelier adds drama to the foyer and, along with the woven-leather and stainless steel bench, introduces the style of the home.
It’s a dilemma many young couples face when moving from the city to the suburbs. Their sleek, urban style doesn’t mesh with the traditional housing options. Compromise becomes the order of the day as they balance good schools and stylish addresses with their design aesthetic.

Such was the case when Rachel Minaya of RMS Interior Design in Harrington Park was asked to assist a young family settle into their new home in Tenafly, Bergen County. With two young children and another on the way they wanted a home that was both practical and reflective of their style.

“They wanted something modern, something with clean lines they could live in,” Minaya says. “Modern defines their style.” Both are professionals who appreciate art and design, Minaya adds, and they wanted a neutral palette, with the husband favoring gray.

The only problem: Their shingle-style home came outfitted with molding, wainscoting, pilasters and a coffered ceiling. “The challenge comes when the bones of the house are already there,” Minaya says. “It is difficult to remove moldings and to change ceiling heights.”

Her solution: transitional design. She incorporated the white trim that accented every room and then chose textured wall coverings in soft neutrals for the foyer, living room and family room and retained the wall covering in the dining room.

Minaya focused on midcentury modern furnishings and selected pieces that are special enough to stand on their own and create an interesting juxtaposition with the more ornate backdrop. “This way you can incorporate more than one designer, some store pieces as well as midcentury design pieces.”

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enlarge | A custom wool-and-silk rug grounds the sleek living room. The pattern is a grid of upper Manhattan, where the couple met. A Noguchi coffee table and Saarinen side table underscore the midcentury modern feel of the home.
Making it Modern
Furnishing the home was what Minaya calls a thoughtful collaboration involving trips to local stores as well as using catalogs and fabric swatches to select custom pieces. Unique touches include a family room rug with a custom design based on a grid of the Upper West Side Manhattan neighborhood where the couple met. In addition the husband collaborated with a young artist on one of the paintings; others were purchased for their previous home. Custom fabrics add cachet to accessories and a chaise in the family room.

A striking David Weeks chandelier adds drama to the foyer. “The husband had seen something in a magazine and wanted a mobile-like piece,” Minaya says.

These more costly pieces were augmented with classics designed by Eero Saarinen and Isamu Noguchi and items purchased at nearby stores specializing in modern design. “You want to be smart,” Minaya says. “If you can find pieces that are great and affordable, why not use them?”

In the living room, for example, a navy leather sofa and chaise purchased at the BoConcept store in Paramus mingle with a Noguchi wood-and-glass coffee table and a Saarinen marble-top side table. In the family room a Ligne Roset sectional sofa and custom cabinetry happily coexist with a wool rug from Room & Board and a red leather chair from BoConcept.

The dining room features a high-end wood-and-crystal table and custom chairs. A glass puzzle mirror was purchased online. The chair upholstery is a durable, child-friendly fabric.

In fact, fabric selection was an important consideration throughout the project because of the ages of the children. Easy-care fabrics became an essential component. Even wall coverings were chosen with tiny hands in mind.

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enlarge | The dining room is both stylish and practical for a family with small children. The chairs are upholstered in a fabric that resists spills, and the family decided to forgo a rug for the time being. The Brazilian wood table is inset with a crystal strip.
Adding Depth
Minaya used texture to add depth and interest to the monochromatic color scheme. She used it on walls, on floor coverings and in upholstery—often contrasting smooth surfaces with textured fabrics.

Because of the clients’ love of neutrals, Minaya used bright colors and bold patterns judiciously. “When there is a large concentration of a solid, a pop of color or pattern is a nice way to break it up,” she says.

The only serious renovations occurred in the powder room and the children’s playroom. The powder room was gutted and resurfaced in marble that’s inset with vertical bands of glass and marble mosaic tiles outlined with thin strips of metal, complementing the black-and-white marble mosaic floor. Another bathroom was added adjacent to the playroom.

The playroom itself, with new custom cabinetry and a new window seat, is outfitted to serve the children as they grow and their interests change. The only updates required will be larger, more grown-up furniture and more sophisticated electronic devices.

Judy Jeannin, a frequent contributor to Design NJ, is a Hillsdale-based writer.


Overall: interior design, RMS Interior Design in Harrington Park. Living Room: leather sofa and chaise, BoConcept in Paramus; chaise and window seat fabric, Knoll Textiles in New York City (T); Noguchi wood-and-glass table and black lamp, Design Within Reach in Secaucus; Saarinen marble-top table, Knoll Studio in New York City (T); custom rug, Desiron in New York City; Larsen pillow fabric, Cowtan & Tout in New York City (T); window treatment fabric, Kravet Couture in Bethpage, New York (T); window seat, pillows and window treatment construction, Cliffside Upholstery in Edgewater; Kneedler-Fauchere hemp wall covering, Hines & Co. in New York City (T). Foyer: chandelier, David Weeks Studio through Ralph Pucci in New York City (T); woven leather bench, Ethan Allen online; stair runner, Stark in New York City; wall covering, Maharam in New York City (T); lighting installation, LTD Electric in Harrington Park. Dining Room: table, Moura Starr in New York City (T); chair fabric, Knoll Textiles; custom chairs, Munrod Custom Upholsters in Mount Vernon, New York (T); glass puzzle mirror, Inmod in Fairfield; satin nickel pendant with silk shade, Stonegate Designs in Dallas; Sonneman sconces, Lightwaves in Upper Saddle River. Family Room: tufted-back sectional and ottoman, Ligne Roset in New York City; graphic wool rug, Room & Board in New York City; pillow fabric, Maharam; bone nesting tables, House 2 Home in Ridgewood; George Nelson Cigar floor lamp, Design Within Reach; motorized solar shades, Rosenberg Power Window Treatments in Wyckoff; custom media cabinet, side table and tray, Hester Bros. Inc. in Rockaway; ceramics, Jonathan Adler in New York City. Powder Room: Carrera marble wall and baseboard and glass and marble mosaic stripes, Porcelanosa in Ramsey; marble sink top, Superior Stone Creations in Ridgefield; polished chrome washstand and double-arm sconces, Waterworks in New York City; Dornbracht polished chrome faucet, Hardware Designs Inc. in Fairfield; wall covering, Knoll Textiles; contractor, Quantum Development Group in Cliffside Park. Playroom: architect, Peter Dito of FDS Architects in Tenafly; contractor, Quantum Development Group; brown leather sofa, Room & Board; custom drum pendant, Bone Simple in New York City (T); geometric shade fabric, Duralee in Bayshore, New York (T); window seat and pillow fabrics, Kravet; upholstery, Cliffside Upholstery. T=To the trade.

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