From the December/January 2015 Issue:

A Different Approach

    Writer: Robin Amster | Photographer: Peter Rymwid | Designer: Jana Manning, ASID |

An unexpected challenge leads to a creative design for a Livingston home

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enlarge | Designer Jana Manning chose a bold glass mosaic mural to highlight the foyer’s curved staircase wall. Its ruby, plum and silver palette is repeated throughout the home.
It all started with a foyer staircase railing that wound up derailing the original design scheme envisioned for a young family’s new Livingston home. That challenge led designer Jana Manning in a different direction to “a great solution that was a complete surprise”—and a welcome one—for homeowners Min and George Kim and their four young children.

“The Kims had expressed a desire for a minimalist Asian space, but when we came into the project we saw an immediate conflict with the staircase railings in the foyer,” says Manning, a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers and principal of Asbury Park-based Manning Design Group. That railing, which the Kims and their builder chose, is wrought iron with what Manning calls a design of “swoops and curves.”

Manning and the Kims discussed changing the railing to fit with a minimalist scheme, but in the end they chose another option: “Incorporating the curves into a more cosmopolitan Asian approach versus minimalist,” Manning says. “As it turns out, the concept became more fun and youthful than it would have been without that challenge.”

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enlarge | The living room, like the foyer, makes a bold statement. The wood-framed sofa and chairs with an Asian look are upholstered in a white cotton blend with a little metallic silver woven through it. A striking silver coffee table—epoxy resin in a stone shape—sits between them. Designer Jana Manning chose all of the original artwork: a series of photographs—abstract multiple-exposure images of fireworks—by To Lo and a contemporary sculpture by Robert Koch.
Bold Statements
That more cosmopolitan style with Asian influences begins in the foyer. In place of what had been a plain wall under the staircase, Manning commissioned a glass mosaic mural with a pattern of curves and impressionist flowers in a ruby, plum and silver palette that she then used throughout the home.

The original natural oak of the stair treads and trim clashed with the new look so Manning had them glazed a bold, dark shade. They now provide a solid, sculptural element in the space and also harmonize with the floor’s deep mahogany finish.

The foyer opens to the living room, and Manning created the home’s boldest statement in these two spaces. In the living room, a white sofa and chairs with sculptural walnut frames are Asian in feeling. They surround a silver coffee table in an organic stone shape. A shaggy pile rug in silver and plum anchors the space.

The bold style of the foyer and living room progresses to a subtler and more minimalist look in the dining and family rooms. “The look is more neutralized in the dining room and then, by the time you reach the family room, we’ve transitioned into a minimalist, modern style with a hint of Asian influence,” Manning says.

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enlarge | The designer turned down the boldness in the dining room. An Asian influence is prominent in the clean lines of the server and dining table, both made of dark-stained wood. The chairs are uphols­tered in subtle taupe faux suede. The lighting fixture above the table is wrought iron and alabaster, and the strié wall covering is in neutralized burgundy, plum and gray shades that are toned-down versions of the higher voltage ruby, plum and silver in the foyer and living room.
More Minimal
The dining room wall covering is a textured strié featuring neutralized shades of burgundy, plum and gray—all of them toned-down versions of the deep colors in the foyer’s mosaic mural. The Asian-inspired server is a dark-stained wood with silver and gold hand-finished handles. The dining table was stained dark to match it. Wood-framed dining room chairs upholstered in taupe faux suede surround the table. “The minimalist, clean lines and the horizontal emphasis of the table and the light fixture above it are all in keeping with Asian influence,” Manning says.

The minimalist theme takes over completely in the family room. An olive leather sectional with a slight metallic sheen has straight, clean lines, as do the custom glass-topped console tables. Underfoot is a plush rug in neutral shades of camel and cream.

“In the end, the home flows from playfully cosmopolitan to sophisticated and modern, with a hint of Asian influence throughout,” Manning says.

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enlarge | The style turns minimalist in the family room. Yet it’s still a warm and comfortable space, Min Kim says. An olive leather sectional with a slight metallic sheen provides ample seating for the family to watch television or movies in comfort. Ottomans and the seat-high fireplace hearth provide additional seating. Manning designed the custom concrete fireplace with soft, mottled tones. Textured ribbed shades topped by draperies in a gray brown with a hint of shimmer cover the windows.
Unifying the Space
In keeping with that Asian influence, the home has a “clean, disciplined” layout that unifies the spaces, Manning adds. “All of the rooms have minimal furnishings in an organized layout. It’s not loose; everything is where it belongs. Lighting fixtures are centered over seating areas, spaces are highly organized. Even though there may be bold colors [in some areas], there is an underlying calm in the furniture arrangement and placement of objects.”

Touches of silver also help to unify the rooms and inject a dose of glam, Manning says. And that, she says, is an appropriate accent for the Kims. “They are a very young family and still want to be playful and youthful and enjoy evenings entertaining friends,” she says.

For her part, Min Kim says she and her husband wanted the home to be modern and contemporary “but not stark because this is a house filled with children.”

Kim says the couple wanted to “put our mark” on their new home. A lot of homes in the area are traditional, she says. “We didn’t want our home to be like anyone else’s. It feels like us.”

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


Overall: interior design, The Manning Design Group in Asbury Park. Foyer: glass mosaic mural, Sicis in New York City; sconces, Shaper by Cooper Lighting in Houston. Living Room: upholstery, Bright (T) in Middletown, New York; ruby pillow and drapery fabric, Donghia (T) in New York City; rug, Weinstein Carpet and Flooring in Little Silver; custom light fixture, Lou Blass in Hudson, New York; artwork, through Exhibit No. 9 in Asbury Park; wall covering, Zoffany through Major Mills (T) in Clark. Family Room: carpet, Weinstein Carpet and Flooring; sectional, American Leather in Dallas; light fixtures, Hubbardton Forge in Castleton, Vermont; custom console, Colin P. Kelly in New York City; custom fireplace surround, design by The Manning Design Group, fabrication by TrueForm Concrete in Denville. Dining Room: chandelier and sconces, Hubbardton Forge; furniture, Red Ginger in Red Bank; drapery fabric, Bergamo (T), through Donghia in New York City. Master Bedroom: bed and nightstands, homeowners; lamps and silver mirror, Creative Spaces (T); wall covering, Major Mills. T=To the trade.

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