From the June/July 2015 Issue:

Comfortable with Color

    Writer: Robin Amster | Photographer: Peter Rymwid | Designer: Rachel Kapner |

A designer mixes colors and patterns for a sophisticated take on a shore home

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enlarge | Designer Rachel Kapner paired green with pink in the living room, which has a French vibe and a more formal feel than some other rooms in the Wall Township home. This “playful but soft and pretty” space is all about the wife, Kapner says. A natural hemp linen sofa and chairs upholstered in apple green fabric with embroidered flowers sit on a pink and cream area rug. The wall covering has a green and cream arabesque pattern.
The interior spaces of a Wall Township house were hardly a match for its Victorian-style exterior or its location on a lovely tree-lined street. Not only were they outdated, they were just plain bad, says designer Rachel Kapner, president of New Providence-based Creative Wallcoverings & Interiors. “Bad wallpaper, bad stained trim, it was all bad.” But that made the designer’s complete transformation of the home all the more exciting.

The 11,000-square-foot home with a stunning wraparound porch was built 22 years ago and probably hadn’t been updated since then, Kapner says. It offered some spectacular features, though, according to the homeowner, including a full guest wing with its own living room, fireplace and kitchen; soaring ceiling heights on the first floor; and a grand balcony from the bedroom suites overlooking the center hall.

It was the perfect opportunity for the homeowner, whose first wife had passed away and who wanted to give his new wife the opportunity to decorate this as her own home. The couple also have a primary residence in North Jersey and an apartment in New York City.

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enlarge | The homeowners relax and watch television in the great room, where blues and greens dominate at eye level and furnishings include a console table with a reclaimed elm base and a hammered zinc top. Pasha, the family poodle, observes from the patterned ottoman.
In Love with Color
“She’s not afraid of color,” Kapner says of the wife. “She also loves the layering of patterns. She wanted that to be a strong theme [for the design].” With that directive in mind, Kapner incorporated color—sometimes in bold tones—in her design scheme. The first floor features blues and greens along with shades of pink, one of the wife’s favorite colors. The focus is on shades of blue in the upstairs bedrooms, including navy blue and turquoise.

“Though the house is at the shore, we wanted only slight touches of the nautical, so instead we used the colors of the beach to play on that,” Kapner says. While the blues and greens—even the pinks—evoke the beach, they don’t feel beachy, she says.

The color scheme forms a backdrop to what Kapner calls “a mix of shabby chic but updated, relaxed but elegant furnishings, with a little bit of formality.” It all comes together for a sophisticated take on a shore home.

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enlarge | The colors turn bold in the guest suite sitting room next to the living room. Kapner covered the walls in hot pink grass cloth and chose dramatic furnishings such as black leather wing chairs and a black-and-white zebra hair-on-hide ottoman. The area rug has a high-low black and gray pattern on a white field. In one corner, there’s a spot for casual dining and playing cards on a glass-topped table flanked by chairs with black frames and neutral suede seats.
Blue, Green … and Pink
Blues and greens dominate the great room with its nearly 18-foot ceiling. This is where the homeowners watch television and relax. An elegant tufted velvet sectional in sapphire blue provides comfortable seating. It sits on a green-and-white cabana-stripe rug. The room also has elements of the rustic and casual: the base of a console table behind the sofa is reclaimed elm and the top is hammered zinc. The coffee table has a chunky wood base. An unusual rope chandelier provides a nautical touch, and a distinctive polished nickel floor lamp would look at home on a movie set.

In the living room, meanwhile, a pink and cream rug complements the green and cream wall covering in an arabesque pattern. Occasional chairs are upholstered in apple green fabric with embroidered flowers, while the sofa is a natural hemp linen in a gray-washed antique frame. The frame of the large standing mirror is a mix of champagne, silver and brown hues. It reflects a mirrored cocktail table. The vibe is French and a bit formal in this room, which is all about the wife. As Kapner says, it’s “playful, but soft and pretty.”

The colors take a dramatic turn in the guest suite sitting room, which is adjacent to the living room. Kapner wanted the room to have its own look. She envisioned it as a library with a feminine twist. She covered the walls in hot pink grass cloth, a color she pulled from the suite’s bedroom.

Against that bold background, she placed black leather wing chairs and a black-and-white zebra hair-on-hide ottoman. The sofa that sits between the chairs is a white linen tufted chesterfield. The area rug has a high-low black and gray pattern on a white field.

The designer’s layering of patterns is evident also in the master bedroom, where she made an elegant statement with a navy-and-white palette. Two different patterns—the formal, intricate pattern of the wall covering and the oval pattern of the needlepoint carpet—live together comfortably. Crowning the space is a navy blue tray ceiling with a white Murano glass chandelier at its center.

Kapner was right at home with mixing patterns and the ample use of color, both of which she does in her own home. “It’s interesting without being too busy,” Kapner says of this approach. “It makes a statement and tells a story. It gives the rooms life.”

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


Overall: Interior design, Creative Wallcoverings & Interiors in New Providence. Living Room: sofa, Zentique in Norcross, Georgia; chairs, Fairfield Chair in Lenoir, North Carolina; rug, Saxony; wall covering, Colefax & Fowler through Cowtan & Tout in New York City; mirror, homeowners. Great Room: custom sofa, Old Hickory Tannery in Newton, North Carolina; coffee table and console table, GJ Styles in High Point, North Carolina; rug, Jaipur in Norcross, Georgia; custom chandelier, Solaria Lighting in Decatur, Georgia. Guest Suite Sitting Room: sofa, homeowners; leather chairs, Orient Express Furniture in Foothill Ranch, California; custom ottoman, Massoud Furniture in High Point, North Carolina; rug, Surya in Calhoun, Georgia. Master Bedroom: bed, Old Hickory Tannery; chair, Taylor King in Taylorsville, North Carolina; rug, Stark Carpets in New York City; wall covering, Ralph Lauren in New York City; window treatment, Vervain Fabrics in Tulsa, Oklahoma; chandelier, Cyan Design in Fort Worth, Texas. Master Bathroom: ottoman, Stanford Furniture in Claremont, North Carolina; chandelier, Cyan Design. Master Suite Sitting Room: sofa and ottoman, Taylor King; desk and desk chair, Hooker Furniture in Martinsville, Virginia; rug, Stark Carpets; window treatment fabric, Robert Allen in New York City. Turquoise Guest Room: bed, Somerset Bay in High Point, North Carolina; dresser, Bethel International in Ontario, Canada; rug, Jaipur; chair, Pasha Furniture in High Point, North Carolina; window treatment, Manuel Canovas through Cowtan & Tout. Twin Guest Bedroom: beds and dresser, Alligator Enterprise in Arcadia, California; rug, Surya; wall covering and window treatment, Casamance, through Creative Wallcoverings & Interiors; light fixture, Uttermost in Rocky Mount, Virginia.

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