From the August/September 2016 Issue:

A Sense of Place

    Writer: Robin Amster | Designer: Barbara Goldfarb, Allied ASID | Architect: Anderson Campanella Architects | Photographer: Phillip Ennis | Antiques: Monmouth County Historical Association, Barbara Goldfarb, Kara Short |

A designer incorporates antiques into a contemporary home, creating a unique space linked to our historic past

Article Photo
enlarge | The foyer is a juxtaposition of old and new with an antique Caucasian Kuba rug flanked by a contem­porary live-edge wood bench with brass legs on one side and an 18th century Chinese gentlemen’s dressing table. A galloping horse weather vane, borrowed from the Monmouth County Historical Association, provides interest in one corner. Above the fireplace is a traditional painting of a sailboat.
In our disposable age when the “new” is almost always considered good and many historic houses have been lost to the wrecking ball, antiques can play an ever more important role in our homes.

“They give a house a sense of place, make it unique, give it a personality,” says Barbara Goldfarb, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Little Silver-based Design Logic Ltd. “Using antiques reflects a desire to bring our history into our present. Antiques also give children a window into the history of American culture.”

Goldfarb, who founded and managed the Two Rivers Antiques Show for 17 years and is a collector in her own right, says, “My philosophy is to inspire the next generations not to lose site of the wonderful history and culture that brought us here.”

The designer found the perfect opportunity to put that philosophy into practice with her design of a Rumson home for a young family. Her idea: to demonstrate the value of antiques by incorporating them into the couple’s contemporary home. “I had recently worked on this project but it wasn’t complete and I knew the owners loved Americana,” Goldfarb says.

So the designer worked with Joseph Hammond, curator of the Monmouth County Historical Society, and Kara Short, a trustee of MCHA and former co-chair of the Two Rivers Antiques Show, to borrow several pieces from its collection to place throughout the home. “The MCHA was happy to show off some of its iconic pieces,” Goldfarb says. And because several pieces she wanted to select were unavailable, she and Short contributed some antiques from their own collections.

Article Photo
enlarge | At the other end of the foyer, Goldfarb placed one of the larger primitive pieces—a cigar store Indian attributed to Samuel Anderson Robb, a leading carver of trade signs. It’s the focal point of the space, Goldfarb says. The rug colors—ochre, blues and greens—work perfectly with the Indian. Additional accents include a copper antique beer mug and, just beyond it, an antique goose decoy, both from the designer’s collection.
Larger Pieces
The placement of the antiques depended on the function of the rooms, Goldfarb says. “I would put the more important or formal pieces in an entrance to create atmosphere.”

With that in mind, she placed an imposing tobacco store Indian and a beautifully detailed antique dressing table in the foyer. The Indian (circa 1877 to 1910) is attributed to Samuel Anderson Robb, an American sculptor best known for his carved wood figures for tobacco stores and circus wagons. The gentlemen’s dressing table was brought from China in 1797 by Charles Haight, who served as supercargo (a representative of the ship’s owner on a merchant ship) aboard the Woodrop Sims sailing between Phila­delphia and China in 1796.

The foyer itself is a juxtaposition of old and new. The rug is an antique Caucasian Kuba, and it’s flanked by the Chinese gentlemen’s dressing table and a contemporary live-edge wood bench with brass legs on one end. Distressed copper lanterns provide light: a triangular one just off the front door, a sconce on the foyer wall and a square one hanging in the foyer proper.

Another antique—a galloping horse weather vane (circa 1820 to 1850)—graces one corner of the space. The floors here and throughout the home are custom random-width oak planks distressed to look original to the period.

In the dining room, another large piece—a classic American barbershop pole painted red, white and blue with gold accents and a gold ball at the top—sits in front of a window. Opposite it is a horse and sulky weather vane (circa 1890 to 1900) made of cast iron, molded copper and tin; it’s the work of J.W. Fish Iron Works in New York City.

Each room, along with the original use of the antiques, dictated Goldfarb’s placement of other antiques. “The mortars and pestles from my own collection ended up in the kitchen and also on a coffee table in the living room where they might be used to serve nuts or crackers,” she says. “Wooden bowls are often used as containers for plants or flowers. Colorful paper hatboxes were used purely as a decorative and colorful element in the floor-to-ceiling bookcases in the living room.”

Beyond antiques’ historic and aesthetic value—and their ability to provide us with a living link to the past—they serve some more up-to-the-minute functions in today’s world. “Using antiques eliminates the off gases that are produced by new furniture glues and lacquers,” Goldfarb says. “They fulfill our desire to live in a ‘green’ culture. Living with antiques is the ultimate form of recycling.”

Article Photo
enlarge | A striking blue paint covers the walls of the great room. Here designer Barbara Goldfarb created a window seat for extra seating. The coffee table ottoman is covered in a blue-and-gray plaid, and the swivel chair is a gray linen-like fabric. Built-in bookshelves hold an interesting collection of antiques, including colorful hatboxes, a child’s miniature chest of drawers and miniature children’s chairs.
A New “Historic” Home
The backdrop for the antiques is a fitting one. Goldfarb says the homeowners, originally from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, have an appreciation for historic homes. While many homes in the Rumson area are gray shingle-style houses, the couple wanted something different.

Their new 8,000-square-foot home was built in 2014, but it was designed to look like a historic structure. Using images selected by the homeowners, Anderson Campanella Architects of Rumson designed a Federal-style home with a classic exterior and a spacious, light-filled interior ideal for this active young couple and their three children and two dogs.

Goldfarb selected mostly primitive antiques—primarily American, French, Italian and English—for the home. “They work very well with contemporary spaces that are open and have a lot of natural light,” she says, “and where they become the focal point or ‘art’ of those rooms.” Primitive pieces also are already distressed and require little care, an important consideration for families with young children. The designer herself used primitive antiques in her own home when her children were young; the house was filled with their friends and she didn’t want to worry about highly polished surfaces.

The wide range of objects Goldfarb chose for the Rumson home included weather vanes, decoys, mast heads, rugs, Amish quilts, wood bowls, and primitive tables and blanket chests.

Details make the difference
Clockwise from far left: American mortars and pestles (circa 19th century to early 20th century) are from the designer’s own collection. They occupy a spot on the great room coffee table ottoman along with a late 19th century-early 20th century carving of an American wood hand trade sign. • A closeup look at the barbershop pole (circa 1875 to 1900) in the dining room. • An antique Delft tobacco jar with a brass lid sits on the table in the dining area off the kitchen. • This horse and sulky weather vane (circa 1890 to 1900) is made of cast iron, molded copper and tin.

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


Overall: interior design, space planning, floor plan, furniture layouts and material selection (stones, floors, tiles, cabinetry design), Design Logic Ltd. in Little Silver; architecture, Anderson Campanella Architects in Rumson; flooring, L.P. Wide Plank Floors in Cream Ridge. Foyer: checkerboard stone entry, Paris Ceramics in New York City; wall covering in entry, Phillip Jeffries in Fairfield; rug, Symourgh International in New York City; bench, Camilla House Imports in Ontario, Canada; fixtures, custom for Design Logic Ltd. by The Copper Lantern in Beaufort, South Carolina; antiques, Monmouth County Historical Association, Barbara Goldfarb and Kara Short; stair carpet, Carpets by Robert in Long Branch. Great Room: window seat, Susan Portera in Fair Haven; chair, Furniture Masters in Long Island City, New York; ottoman coffee table, homeowners; wall paint, Benjamin Moore Stratford Blue; antiques, Monmouth County Historical Association. Dining Room: dining table, homeowners; dining chairs, Furniture Masters; custom fireplace mantel, Design Logic Ltd.; cow painting, through Megan Peter Fine Art in Fair Haven; wall covering, Phillip Jeffries. Dining Area Off Kitchen: reproduction table, Bryce M. Ritter of UpHome Ltd. in Malvern, Pennsylvania; reproduction benches, designed by Design Logic Ltd. and made by Bryce M. Ritter; side chairs, Serena and Lily in Sausalito, California; antiques, Monmouth County Historical Association. Seating Area Off Kitchen: sectional, Furniture Masters; carpet, The New England Collection in New York City; light fixture, Restoration Hardware; antiques, Monmouth County Historical Association. Master Bedroom: headboard and chair, Furniture Masters; wall covering, Phillip Jeffries; chests, through Design Logic Ltd.; lighting, Urban Electric Co. in North Charles­ton, South Carolina; carpet, Carpets by Robert; white retro chair, Vondom in New York City; antiques, Monmouth County Historical Association.

Download the complete resource guide with contact information (pdf)