From the December/January 2016 Issue:

Best of Both Worlds

    Writer: Robin Amster | Photographer: Patricia Burke | Interior Designer: Sarah Coleman | Architect: Peter A. Goodhue |

A new ‘old’ home combines charm and grace with modern function for a young family

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enlarge | Architect Peter Goodhue designed a new home on the site of a 19th century Rumson estate for Sarah and Colin Bradley and their four young children. He incorporated several design elements from the original home and also conserved as many of its decorative materials as possible. The estate’s original bricks were used on the front walk and herringbone porch. Interior designer Sarah Coleman kept the Christmas decorations simple and classic: topiaries in concrete planters, a front door framed in garland and topped with magnolia branches, and simple wreaths between each set of doors.
Older homes provide an aura of charm and timelessness that many homeowners desire for gracious living, but not necessarily the convenience and functionality they need for modern life.

A combination of old-home charm and modern function, however, was precisely what a young family sought when they decided to trade city living in their Manhattan Tribeca loft for a home in the New Jersey suburbs.

They found that combination—or, more accurately, they initiated a lengthy project that brought that vision to life—in Rumson.

“We were originally looking at older homes,” Sarah Bradley says of the search she and husband, Colin, undertook for a new home for themselves and their four young children. Both husband and wife love the “character, charm and interest” of older homes and both had grown up in them: she in a Southern colonial home in Arkansas and a Midcentury Modern home in Texas and he in a traditional colonial in Montclair.

“But the old homes we fell in love with didn’t provide the function we needed,” Bradley says. “Closets and bathrooms were too small; there were bigger formal living rooms but the family rooms were too small.”

It took two years to come up with the answer: a home with its own version of “historic roots” built on the site of a 19th century Rumson estate that had proved unsalvageable. That new “old” home, part of the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group’s 2014 Holiday House Tour, was designed by architect Peter A. Goodhue.

The Rumson-based architect sought to incorporate numerous design elements from the original estate into the new home, a 7,000-square-foot, six-bedroom structure. Goodhue evoked the historic estate by incorporating a wide porch and distinctive Shingle design, vintage-style windows with diamond-patterned mullions and a stately front door. The architect also took pains to incorporate as many of the estate’s decorative materials as possible, including original brick he used on the front walk and the herringbone porch.

The new home combines the mix of aesthetics and functions the Bradleys sought. “I like homes that actually have rooms,” she says. Unlike a lot of new homes, this one has a “real” formal dining room and living room, she adds. The back of the house has the larger rooms used most often by contemporary families, including the family room and kitchen.

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enlarge | Coleman chose a neutral handpainted wallpaper with gilt Moroccan tracery as the starting point for her design of the foyer. An antique rug of warm red and pinks picks up the colors in a vintage chair she discovered in a Charleston thrift shop. A geometric midcentury iron mirror tops a pale green distressed chest with brushed gold detailing.
“New Traditional”
As construction progressed, the Bradleys called on interior designer Sarah Coleman of Charleston, South Carolina-based Sarah Coleman Interior Design to create the interior scheme for the home. It’s what Sarah Bradley dubs “new traditional—an eclectic mix of modern pieces that evoke midcentury modern and heirloom pieces.”

Coleman characterizes it as: “Traditional, classic but young and fresh. I wanted the home to feel timeless, very layered, and to have an air of casual luxury.”

Regardless of the style, Coleman places the utmost importance on sourcing furniture, finishes and accessories for all of her clients’ homes. “Each piece is unique to the specific home,” she says of her work. “Everything must be an absolute ‘love,’ and nothing should feel dialed in.”

For the Bradley home, the designer found new and antique furnishings from both coasts. “Items from funky California shops in Venice Beach held equal weight with the more traditional pieces sourced from New England standbys,” Coleman says.

Custom furnishings also played a part. The dining room table, for instance, is a solid walnut custom design with an unusual 4-inch thick top and a book-matched, extra-wide table leaf. It seats eight for day-to-day use and 12 at its full length.

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enlarge | Top: The sunken family room off the foyer has deep charcoal walls that contrast with a white coffered ceiling. Several of its furnishings provide a nod to the 1920s and ‘30s, including a leather sofa with channel tufting and a blue chenille roll armchair. Opposite it is a midcentury chair with a burl frame and red-and-gold-weave upholstery. A dark steel coffee table with rivet trim sits in the middle. Sarah Coleman used two rugs—in red, gold, cream, green and blue—to delineate the seating area in front of the fireplace and the space behind the sofa that opens to the kitchen. The nine-foot-tall Christmas tree is filled with heirloom ornaments and those made by the Bradleys’ children. Above: Two identical consoles (one shown) flank the family room entrance to the kitchen. They have graceful iron bases and a wood top. Both are topped by vintage 1960s bird prints.
Christmas — Simply
The eclectic aesthetic is evident upon entering the foyer, Coleman says. The light-filled, refined living room on one side of the foyer and the darker, Deco-inspired dining room on the other are tied together by “a common thread of formality in the foyer,” she says.

The foyer walls are covered with a neutral handpainted paper with gilt Moroccan tracery. That’s balanced by an antique iron mirror that, in turn, ties in to the dramatically dark wallpaper in the dining room and the deep charcoal walls of the sunken family room directly off the rear of the foyer.

The Bradleys’ 9-foot tall Christmas tree is situated in the family room, where a leather sofa with channel tufting gives a nod to the 1930s. Charcoal gray walls and a white coffered ceiling provide sedate drama. The tree is the focal point for the family’s holiday décor, and the Bradleys make sure it’s a “family” tree, not overly styled, Coleman says. It bears all of the Bradley children’s ornaments along with family heirlooms.

“We keep the holiday décor to a minimum while still being festive,” Coleman adds. Simple is better with lots of kids running around and company coming for holiday dinners.

The designer gave a nod to Sarah Bradley’s southern upbringing in Arkansas and Texas with the use of magnolia branch decorations in the kitchen, on the living room mantel and at the front entrance.

“Above all, make it work with the style of the home and keep it simple,” Coleman says of her holiday décor philosophy. “I’d rather use seasonal fruits and greenery, combined with smaller floral arrangements in interesting colors—reds, purples and whites—than see a bunch of poinsettias, holly and white lights strewn about.”

That view of holiday décor, in fact, is just another expression of Coleman’s final word on the Bradley home: “absolute charm and good taste.”

A wood bar in the dining room is the perfect spot for holiday arrangements of holly branches nestled in an antique silverplated bucket—unpolished to show off its patina—and a glass bowl filled with chestnuts and berries. • A collection of vintage glass vessels in brown, plum and green occupies a place on a media cabinet in the sunroom. • An urn filled with colorful calla lilies is a natural holiday decoration. • A collection of vintage vases and perfume bottles sits in the upstairs guest room in front of a mirror mounted in a distressed painted blue frame with a fleur-de-lis pattern.

Robin Amster is a Madison-based writer and editor.

The Bradley home was part of the 2014 Holiday House Tour sponsored by the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group. The 2015 tour, which benefits the organization’s hospice program, will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. December 4. It will feature four homes decorated for the season in the Two River area of Monmouth County. Admission is $50 ($40 for seniors). A holiday boutique (included with tour admission) will feature gifts, greens and accessories for sale. A preview boutique for early-bird shoppers will be held December 3.


Overall: architect, Peter A. Goodhue in Rumson; interior design, Sarah Coleman Interior Design in Charleston, South Carolina; custom upholstery and window treatments throughout, Peary Upholstery in Atlantic Highlands and M. Silberstein in Shrewsbury. Foyer: chest, Horchow in Dallas; mirror, Pegaso Gallery in Los Angeles; lamp, Vaughan Designs in New York City; overhead lantern, Worlds Away in Memphis; vintage chair, Charleston Revisions in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina with fabric by F. Schumacher & Co. in New York City. Living Room: rug, TibeTano in Englewood; sofa, Lee Industries through GDC Home in Charleston, South Carolina; settee, Cisco Bros. through ABC Carpet & Home in New York City; armchairs, R. Jones & Associates in Dallas; coffee table, custom through Sarah Coleman Interior Design;­ stool/ottoman, Assemblage in Chicago; artwork above piano, Simafra through Gaspare Asaro in New York City. Family Room: sofa, Restoration Hardware; rug, Horchow; wood-framed midcentury modern chair, Greenwich Living Antiques and Design Center in Stamford, Connecticut; blue armchair, Hickory Chair in Hickory, North Carolina; overhead light fixture, O’Lampia Studio in New York City; console, Redford House in Carson, California; aviary painting, Dwell Studio in New York City. Sunroom: sectional, Hickory Chair with fabric by Perennials in New York City; coffee table, Avantgarden in Pound Ridge, New York; window treatment fabric, Thomas O’Brien through Lee Jofa in Bethpage, New York; rug, homeowners. Dining Room: custom table, Petersen Antiques in Los Angeles; chairs, Vanguard in Conover, North Carolina, and Horchow; wallpaper, Cole & Sons through Lee Jofa; drapery fabric, F. Schumacher & Co.; chandelier, John Salibellow in New York City. Kitchen: cabinetry, Gilreath Custom Cabinetry in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; cabinet hardware, Restoration Hardware; counter stools, Hickory Chair; pendants, Circa Lighting in Savannah, Georgia. Master Bedroom: bed, Neirmann Weeks in New York City; nightstands, Hickory Chair; chaise lounge, Cobble Hill Collection through ABC Carpet & Home; mirror, Antique and Artisan Gallery in Stamford, Connecticut; window treatment, GP&J Baker through Lee Jofa. Master Bathroom: wallpaper, F. Schumacher & Co.; mirrors, Redford House; sconces, Visual Comfort in Houston. Girl’s Room 1: rug, ABC Carpet and Home; chair, Wisteria in Dallas with fabric by Rubelli through Donghia/ Rubelli in New York City; window treatment fabric, Jim Thompson through Jerry Pair in New York City; daybed, Ballard Designs. Girls’ Room 2: vanity and chandelier, Grange in New York City; vanity chair, Wisteria with fabric from Duralee in Bay Shore, New York; wall mirror, Mirror Image Home in Los Angeles; table lamp, Oriental Lampshade Co. in New York City. Boys Room: bunk beds, Pottery Barn Kids; floor poufs, RH Baby & Child; window seat fabric, Forest Lake Fabrics in Columbia, South Carolina. Details Make the Difference: colored glass vessels, Cottage & Garden in Newport, Rhode Island; bouquet of calla lilies and antique opal glass urn, Katydid in Spring Lake; mirror, Wisteria; wallpaper, Hinson through Donghia/Rubelli.

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