From the October/November 2014 Issue:

A Shared Vision

    Writer: Robin Amster | Photographer: Peter Rymwid | Interior Designer: Diane Durocher Interiors | Design Services: John Wright Designs | Kitchen Designer: Peter Salerno Inc. | Architect: J. Costantin Architecture | Landscape Architect: Statile & Todd | Builder: Polo Master Builders |

A team of design professionals collaborates on a Tuscan-inspired home

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enlarge | Architect Joe Costantin added three dormers over the front entry to give it more formality. Of these, the larger dormer with a hipped roof aligns with the front door to emphasize the importance of the entry. The two flanking decorative copper oval dormers are indicative of French manor-style architecture.
A young family sought to marry the French Revival architecture of their newly acquired—but not newly constructed—Princeton home with Tuscan-inspired interiors. They succeeded with the help of a team of design professionals who shared their vision for the total renovation of the five-bedroom home.

“Large homes are a team effort with one goal in mind: a happy client,” says Diane Durocher, a state-certified interior designer, professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Diane Durocher Interiors in Ramsey. “It takes a village to tackle these projects.”

Durocher collaborated with architect Joe Costantin of J. Costantin Architecture in Morristown, kitchen designer Peter Salerno of Peter Salerno Inc. in Wyckoff, landscape architect Jeff Higinbotham of Statile & Todd in Far Hills, Roger Polo of Polo Master Builders in Morristown and Jack Wright of John Wright Designs in Flemington.

“It was up to every member of the design team and the builder to create a shared vision of what the spaces were to become,” Wright says. “It was, as it always is, important to understand the aesthetic sensibilities and functional utility requirements of the people for whom we design and build.”

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enlarge | The design of the foyer, with its Tuscan and Old World ambience, sets the stage for what’s to come through­out the house, designer Diane Durocher says. The balustrade is hand-forged wrought iron comple­men­ted by a wrought iron console and chandelier. The floor is reclaimed terra-cotta tile installed in a herringbone pattern. A wood coffered ceiling crowns the 20-foot-high foyer.
Costantin was called in to better adapt the house to the needs of the owners and their three young children. Costantin says the project included “repurposing” several spaces as opposed to increasing the home’s footprint.

The work included designing a new guest suite that’s tucked under the sloping rooflines in the attic, reminiscent of “what you might see on the upper level of a bed-and-breakfast in Nantucket,” he says. He also transformed an unfinished basement into a pool room and created an office on the main level, adjacent to the kitchen, out of what was a small guest room.

The exterior was changed also. Costantin added five dormers. Three over the front entry give the “manor” look of the structure more formality. Two added over the garage allow more natural light in bedrooms located under the attic rafters.

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enlarge | The warm gold shade of the living room walls is the perfect backdrop for its architectural elements, Durocher says. A coffered ceiling is enhanced with molding painted and glazed for added texture. At its center is a wrought iron filigree candle chandelier. A wood coffee table sits between large damask chenille sofas. Simple wool drapery panels frame doors with views to the outside.
Warm & Welcoming
For the interior design, Durocher sought to create a warm and welcoming environment along with an easy flow from one room to another. The warmth was provided in part by incorporating the Tuscan elements the wife loves and a color palette of rich earth tones such as rust and gold.

Reclaimed antique wood beams, hand-forged iron, traditional plaster, wide antique wood floorboards, reclaimed stone and extensive moldings were used throughout to achieve an authentic Tuscan look.

Yet the design strikes more than that one note.

The interiors combine those Tuscan elements with an ambience of comfort, simplicity and elegance, Durocher says. It all adds up to a different take on traditional style, she adds.

“The interiors are traditional in nature but with a fabulous rustic ambience. Rustic doesn’t have to mean falling apart!”?Durocher says. “A lot of times people think rustic is something they purchased at a barn, but more and more we’re seeing in it that warmth of home and family.”

Architectural Details
Key to the project were the architectural details, millwork and moldings, ornate ceilings, ornamental rail designs, built-ins and fireplace mantels created throughout the house. These were Jack Wright’s territory, working in collaboration with the other professionals.

Wright calls a home a canvas on which to create details that make for beautiful spaces. “The trick is not to have the details be arbitrary,” he says. “You want to enjoy each space in itself but at the same time, have it lure you into the next space.”

The home’s foyer, for instance, sets the stage for what follows in its Tuscan-influenced spaces—and also illustrates the team’s collaborative design approach. Wright says he and Costantin created the stained antique Douglas fir beams for the foyer’s 20-foot-high ceiling to convey both “strength and intimacy.”

Wright designed the front door surround with decorative paneled pediments and ornamental wrought iron stair rails whose pattern he also incorporated into the door itself. Durocher selected the reclaimed terra-cotta tile that was installed in a herringbone pattern on the floor of the foyer. She repeated the wrought iron element of the railing in the foyer’s console table, two-tier chandelier and sconces.

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enlarge | Kitchen designer Peter Salerno chose a unique reclaimed tin range hood for the center of the kitchen. A classic Old World leaf-and-flower design complements the mosaic leaf pattern of the backsplash. The generously sized island, with oversized legs, and the refrigerator panels are butternut. For contrast, Salerno chose raised-panel cream cabinetry with a chocolate glaze. The countertops are extra thick cream limestone to stand up to the kitchen’s other bold elements, Salerno says.
Rustic Design
The kitchen features a marriage of the rustic designs of both Tuscany and Provence, Durocher says. Kitchen designer Peter Salerno contrasted the ceiling’s reclaimed wood beams with butternut (a form of walnut) for the kitchen island and refrigerator front. Cream raised-panel cabinetry with a chocolate glaze complements the cream stone floor and contrasts with the island and refrigerator panels. Wright distressed the alder pantry door, which looks as if it were cut into a stone wall.

A focal point of the kitchen is a range hood that Salerno says epitomizes the organic element in Tuscan design. Salerno reclaims tin from throughout the country, and this hood is composed of tin reclaimed from an Iowa grocery store. It is soldered onto a wood frame, painted and distressed. The hood’s classic Old World leaf-and-flower pattern is something “You would see in some Italian art and metalwork; it’s a great fit for the kitchen,” Salerno says.

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enlarge | Jack Wright designed a paneled tray ceiling with cove lighting to highlight the perimeter, the fireplace and the built-ins in the master bedroom. Diane Durocher designed the serene retreat her clients wanted with a tranquil palette of creamy white, pale sand and light blue. Custom armoires flanking the window were hand-stenciled in a damask motif that echoes the pattern of the tile fireplace surround, the custom area rug and blue silk pillows.
A Comfortable Combination
The melding of Provence and Tuscan elements in the kitchen mirrors the combination of the home’s exterior French architecture and Tuscan-inspired interiors, Costantin says. “It’s rare that houses stringently adhere to a single architectural vocabulary throughout all the details,” he says. “Study dwellings in Europe, for example. A house in France might have English attributes in the exterior detailing or materials reminiscent of Italy.

“When we design, we include elements our clients treasure and try to blend them seamlessly as we did here,” he adds.

The landscape surrounding the home was also key to the project given the homeowners’ request for unobstructed views of their beautiful property, Durocher says.

“The home sits nestled within a very natural landscape,” says Jeff Higinbotham of Statile & Todd. “In a setting like this, it’s nice to create some push and pull between the architecture and the landscape.”

Higinbotham’s landscape design includes both formal and natural elements. Formal features such as masonry walls, linear hedges, symmetry of elements and garden ornaments help ground the architecture into the landscape. Meanwhile, bold masses of ornamental grasses and perennials with sweeping bed lines are a nod to the home’s natural setting, he says.

The landscape architect’s charge for the back of the property was to create a comfortable dining area and an outdoor kitchen with additional space for entertaining. This area includes a wood pergola that provides shade and also defines the dining area, a stone seat wall, a fire pit and a fountain urn.

Robin Amster, a regular contributor to Design NJ, is a Madison-based writer and editor.


Overall: interior design, Diane Durocher Designs in Ramsey; architect, J. Costantin Architecture in Morristown; design services, John Wright Designs in Flemington; kitchen design, Peter Salerno Inc. in Wyckoff; landscape design, Statile & Todd in Far Hills; builder, Polo Master Builders in Morristown. Foyer: chandelier, Arte de Mexico in Irvine, California; console, homeowners; mirror, Restoration Hardware, refinished by Studio Eighteen in Kenvil; flooring, Mediterranean Tile & Marble in Bernardsville; floral arrangements, Nancy Conner Design in North Plainfield. Living Room: sofas, Kravet in New York City; coffee table, J. Rosselli in New York City; chandelier, Illuminaries in Austin, Texas; rug, J&S Designer Flooring in Morristown; window treatments, fabric by Schumacher & Co. in New York City, trim by Brimar in New York City and fabrication by Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe in Haskell. Family Room: sofas, Kravet; coffee table, Schwartz Design Showroom in Metuchen; chandelier, Lightwaves NJ in Upper Saddle River; rug, J&S Designer Flooring. Dining Room: wallpaper, Ralph Lauren in?New York?City; dining table and chairs, Kravet; servers, Lazarus & Williams in Ogdensburg; chandelier, Fine Art Lamps in Miami Lakes, Florida; rug, Creative Touch in Secaucus; window treatments, fabric by Kravet, trim by Samuel & Sons in New York City and fabrication by Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe; floral arrangements, Nancy Conner Design. Kitchen and Breakfast Room: cabinetry and range hood, Peter Salerno; stools on island and table and chairs, homeowners; fixtures over island, Lightwaves NJ; baker’s rack, Woodland Creek Furniture in Kalkaska, Michigan; chandelier, Ashore Chandeliers in New York City. Master Bedroom: bed, Charles P. Rogers in New York City; bedding fabric, Duralee in New York City, Schumacher, JAB in New York City and Thibaut in Newark; trim, Robert Allen Design in New York City; fabrication, Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe; sofa, Kravet; night stand, J. Rosselli; rug, J&S Designer Flooring; window treatments, fabric by Carlton V in New York City, trim by Kravet and fabrication by Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe. Master Bathroom: flooring, Mediterranean Tile & Marble; cabinetry, Peter Salerno Inc.; claw-foot tub, Hardware Designs in Fairfield; chandelier, Lightwaves NJ; sconces, Arte de Mexico; barrel vault ceiling, Studio Eighteen; window treatment, fabric by J.F. Fabrics in Tonawanda, New York, trim by Kravet and fabrication by Steve’s Custom Drapery Shoppe. Pool Room: pool table and bar stools, homeowners; bar, John Wright Designs; mural in wine cellar, Studio Eighteen.

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