From the April/May 2015 Issue:

The Spice of Life

    Writer: Marirose Krall | Photographer: Peter Rymwid | Designer: Ginny Zonfrilli, CID, Allied Member ASID | Architect: Stephen E. Kowalski, R.A. | Landscaping: Magic Landscaping Inc. |

A variety of styles merge in an out-of-the-ordinary Franklin Lakes home

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enlarge | The owners purchased the home from his parents, added about 1,500 square feet and changed the exterior from Tudor to Shingle. Landscape materials were chosen to complement the structure. “The plants don’t try to steal the show,” says Drew Shepherd of Magic Landscaping Inc. “I kept it very quiet and complementary, very reverent to the architecture.”
Stephen Biale and his wife, Nan K. Forte, have a knack for discovering uncommon items in out-of-the-way places. The homeowners’ interior designer, Ginny Zonfrilli, describes Biale: “He loves interesting cultures, and he’s got a terrific eye.” The couple’s Franklin Lakes home is a reflection of those discerning tastes. It’s an extraordinary compendium of pieces that reflect their common vision and distinctive styles.

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enlarge | The library carries over some of the adjacent foyer’s red tones in formal English country style and is owner Stephen Biale’s favorite room. The massive marble fireplace is a focal point. The black built-in shelving, which Biale designed, mimics black accents in the foyer. The statue in the window also reflects the foyer’s Asian theme.
A Structural Starting Point
The owners began a renovation in 2011 and, as Biale says, “It quickly took on a life of its own. The further we got, the bigger it got.” Biale and Forte had help navigating the process from architect Stephen Kowalski of Stephen E. Kowalski Architect in Basking Ridge and Zonfrilli, a state-certified interior designer, allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and principal of VHZ Design Group in South Orange.

Kowalski and the owners agreed on a design that would transform the exterior from Tudor to Shingle style. The home’s rear façade, originally a nondescript 80-foot flat run, also needed a facelift. “There was no intrigue to it,” Biale says. To remedy that situation, Kowalski designed a tower element inspired by a wedding venue the homeowners had visited. The finished product, says the architect, acts as “a cohesive envelope to hold an eclectic design.”

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enlarge | The Asian influence continues in the dining room. This time, black in the wallpaper and carpet contrasts with the red ceiling for a dramatic effect. The straight edges of the lamps on the sideboard act as a counterpoint to the round table and curved seat backs.
Singular Sensations
The design represents a harmonious fusion of the couple’s sometimes-divergent décor preferences. “Stephen is more traditional. Nan is more contemporary,” Zonfrilli says.

Though they had differing design sensibilities, husband and wife agreed on a plan of action to create the home they wanted. They decided the front hall, for example, would have an Asian influence. Biale says, “Upon entering, we aspired to have our visitors experience a warm, soothing and almost Zen-like vibe that would set the stage for exploring the rest of the house.” The foyer’s striking black and red furnishings and Asian statuary are set against brick walls. The dining room, just off the foyer, continues the Asian theme. In this space, black and gold are the predominant colors, accented by a vivid red ceiling.

The library takes a different turn that Biale calls “English country formal.” Like a drawing room at a grand estate, the room features an opulent rug, cozy leather chairs and a massive fireplace. Biale discovered the marble surround in a Manhattan reclamation shop and negotiated it away from a celebrity phone-bidder who was interested also.

From rural England, the design moves to old Hollywood in the bar/entertainment room. All eyes are drawn to the circa 1940s bar, which originally stood in a Paris gentlemen’s club. The bar, with its linear embellishments, pairs with a mirrored cabinet along one wall to give the room Art Deco appeal.

Forte’s modern aesthetic is prominent in the kitchen, where sleek surfaces and streamlined furnishings create an uncluttered, airy atmosphere. A contemporary look is featured also in the master bathroom. Spa-like in its muted design, the room’s pale green and light wood tones make it a tranquil haven.

The homeowners wanted to ensure that visitors enjoy a peaceful refuge as well, so the guest suite was designed as a rustic world unto itself. Inspired by the Adirondack Mountains, where the homeowners wed, the suite incorporates distressed wood furniture, woven cane chairs and unfinished wood plank paneling.

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enlarge | Stools featured in the Art Deco bar room also find a place in the contemporary kitchen. The spare design includes only lower cabinetry, which allows light to flood in through a profusion of windows. Chrome and stainless steel fixtures contribute to the sleek atmosphere.
Common Threads
While each style speaks for itself, the design also works as a unified whole. To create a feeling of continuity, Zonfrilli says, recurring design elements were used to create relationships between the rooms. The ultra-modern kitchen features an antique butchers table, for instance, and the rustic guest suite kitchen includes contemporary stainless steel appliances. Modern stools lining the main kitchen island also work beautifully in the adjacent Art Deco bar/entertainment room.

Finishes and colors also reappear. The prominent reds and blacks in the Asian-inspired foyer are revisited in the library carpet, in the guest suite bathroom and in the kitchen islands countertop. The pale green in the master bathroom is repeated in two bedrooms, both of which feature Asian accessories.

The rooms are united also by the fact that most windows were left bare. It has an open feel, a nice connection to the outside, Zonfrilli says. This brings a lot more light into the space and showcases Steves collections, which was important because theyre fabulous. For her work on the home, Zonfrilli received two 2014 Design Excellence Awards from the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers: a Gold Award for Residential-Large Kitchens 55 Square Feet and a Silver Award for Residential-Several Spaces More than 6,500 Square Feet.

Biale says that on paper, youd never think it would work. Then you walk in the house and it [does], he says. You can marry all these disparate elements and it all works.

Marirose Krall, a regular contributor to Design NJ, is a Red Bank-based writer.


Overall: interior design, VHZ Design Group in South Orange; architect, Stephen E. Kowalski Architect in Basking Ridge; general contractor, Daniel Mauer of D. Mauer Contracting LLC in Long Valley; landscaping, Magic Landscaping Inc. in Allendale; appliances, sinks and faucets, Wydian Kitchens & Design LLC, except for those in the master bathroom, which were supplied by the architect. Foyer: old Tuscany bricks, Historical Bricks, Iowa City, Iowa; red cabinet and antique vertical Chinese business signs (on each side of doorway to the library), Beyul LLC in New York City (now closed); 1870 silk Persian Tabriz rug, Rug & Kilim in New York City; 14th century statue over chair, Khmer Sandstone Apsaras Relief, Angor Wat, Cambodia; copper reproduction Buddha (over the red cabinet), antique store in Summit (now closed); Vico Magistretti chair, Cassina in New York City. Library: circa 1910 Heriz Serapi carpet, Rug & Kilim; 1930 French leather and brass Art Deco lamp (on black lacquer end table), Antiques on Old Plank Road in Chicago; antique black Jurassic marble fireplace surround, Olde Good Things in New York City; desk chair, Estate of Andy Warhol, Sotheby’s Auction House in New York City; club chairs and ottomans, Morristown Antiques Show; pillow on club chair, Ralph Lauren in New York City; 1935 black lacquer Art Deco three-tier side tables, High Style Deco in New York City through; wire bookcases, designed by Stephen Biale; cabinet/bookcase, 19th century English antique; window treatment, Scalamandré; 19th century antique Thai carved and polychrome wood Thepannoms statue on wall, Doris Duke Foundation, auctioned by Millea Bros. Auctions in Boonton, online auction through Live Auctioneers in New York City. Dining Room: antique chandelier, Harbor View Center for Antiques in Stamford, Connecticut; Chinese carpet, ABC Carpet&Home; credenza clad in black leather circa 1940, Tommi Parzinger; dining table, handmade in England; chairs, period Biedermeier through; place settings, Williams-Sonoma; wall covering, Cathay Toile from Brunschwig & Fils in Bethpage, New York; wainscot, trim and faux red leather-finish ceiling, PaintTek Quality Painting Inc. in Dunellen. Bar: circa 1940s Parisian Art Deco bar in mahogany and chrome and Philippe Starck bar stools, M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans; custom millwork, D. Maurer Contracting; mirrored cabinet, chairs and tables, White House Designs For Life in Fairfield; honed-finish black-lace slate floor tiles and Ruhlmann sconce and picture light, through VHZ Design Group; wall covering, Greater Gator in Chestnut by Thibaut in Newark; refrigerator and wine reserve, Perlick. Kitchen: macassar ebony cabinets, designed by Stephen Kowalski in collaboration with Claudia Harvey of Wydian Kitchens & Design, manufactured by Christiana Cabinetry in Christiana, Pennsylvania; cabinetry hardware, Hardware Designs Inc. in Fairfield; Philippe Starck stools, M.S. Rau Antiques; lighting over island, Apollo Lady Finger pendant with brushed-steel finish, Access Lighting Corp. in Tustin, California; silver travertine perimeter countertop and absolute black island countertop, Atlas Marble & Granite in Springfield; refrigerator/freezer, Thermador; beverage refrigerator, Sub-Zero; range, microwave drawer and warming drawer, Wolf; dishwasher, Fisher & Paykel; sinks, Julien in Quebec; faucets, Dornbracht; circa 1890 French butcher block table, Antiques on Old Plank Road; wall color, Benjamin Moore Venetian Plaster; trim color, Benjamin Moore White Sand. Sitting Area Off Kitchen: seating and coffee table, Barcelona Collection, Knoll; macassar ebony cabinets, designed by Stephen Kowalski in collaboration with Claudia Harvey at Wydian Kitchens & Design, manufactured by Christiana Cabinetry; Eileen Gray side table (between chairs), Design Within Reach in Stamford, Connecticut; fireplace with custom stainless steel surround, Broadhurst Sheet Metal Works Inc. in Hawthorne; artwork and red throw, VHZ Design Group. Curved Banquette in Kitchen: Noguchi Cyclone dining table, circa 1957, Chris Houston of Modern Artifacts in San Francisco through 1stdibs (homeowners replaced the original plywood top with a marble top from Atlas Marble and Granite); Caviar pendant light, Arteriors in Carrollton, Texas; banquette with custom millwork finish in Benjamin Moore White Sand, manufactured by MDM Woodworking in Hawthorne; banquette cushion in Modern Blaze/Dominance, Pallas Textiles in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and fabricated by Workroom Services in Warren. Upstairs Hallway: 19th century handcarved Indian wall panel, Susanin’s Auctions in Chicago; Gerrit Thomas Rietveld Zig Zag chair, Cassina. Guest Suite: bed and bedding, Polo Ralph Lauren; side tables, American Indian craftspeople in Lake Placid, New York; bookcases, designed by Stephen Biale and manufactured by Ralph Kylloe Rustic Design in Lake George, New York; Chinese carpet, J&S Designer Flooring in Morristown; straight-backed chairs, purchased many years ago at an antiques shop in Lake Placid, New York; round table, The Point in Upper Saranac Lake, New York; “canoe” book shelf, half of a vintage “Old Town” canoe from Lake Placid; handmade dresser, George Jacques Antiques in Keene Valley, New York (now closed); trim color, Benjamin Moore Powell Buff. Guest Bathroom: wall covering, Thibaut Dorchester/Black; towel cabinet, Sundance catalog; vanity, George Jacques Antiques; towels, Bed Bath & Beyond; wall and floor tile, Mediterranean Tile & Marble in Fairfield; Cheyenne wall sconces, VHZ Design Group; ceiling planks, D. Maurer Contracting; trim color, Benjamin Moore Decatur Buff. Master Bedroom: grass-cloth wall covering, Kravet Inc. in Bethpage, New York; bed, White House Designs for Life; Ralph Lauren bedding and pillows, Bloomingdales; Catellani & Smith Albero Della Luce light sculpture, through VHZ Design Group; Corbusier chaise, Cassina. Master Bathroom: cabinetry, designed by Stephen Kowalski in collaboration with Claudia Harvey of Wydian Kitchens & Design and manufactured by Christiana Cabinetry; Cloud limestone flooring with vein cut, vestige brushed, Mediterranean Tile & Marble; bathtub, faucets and sinks, Stephen Kowalski; towels, VHZ Design Group, wood ceiling panels, D. Maurer Contracting; stool, Prince Aha by Philippe Starck through VHZ Design Group; custom mirrors, D. Maurer Contracting and Mediterranean Tile & Marble; shower tile, Mediterranean Tile & Marble; plumbing fixtures, Dornbracht; bathtub and sinks, Boffi; Calliope lights over mirrors, West Essex Lighting Studio in West Caldwell; wall color, Sherwin-Williams Versatile Grey; trim color, Benjamin Moore, Decorators White satin. Backyard: pool, Marson Pools in Franklin Lakes; fireplace, and stone­­work, Lester Szajna, Forte Construction Co. in Ringwood; water feature, Magic Landscaping Inc.; cabana and cabinetry, D. Maurer Contracting; chandelier, George Jacques Antiques; chaise, White House Designs for Life.

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