From the October/November 2016 Issue:

Simply Stylish

    Writer: Denise DiFulco | Photographer: Marco Ricca | Designer: Elizabeth Vizzone |

When designing a room, start by removing what isn’t necessary or what you no longer love, Elizabeth Vizzone advises

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enlarge | The home’s overall aesthetic of streamlined elegance never deviates from the first steps into the foyer.
Interior design need not be intimidating. That’s the mantra of Elizabeth Vizzone, owner of Elizabeth Vizzone Interiors, a home staging and redesign business based in Montclair. “My approach is that anyone can do what I do,” says Vizzone, who has built a lifestyle philosophy around her love of design. “It’s just a formula, and it’s about simplifying.”

Vizzone, who is also a licensed Realtor, kept things astoundingly simple when moving from a modern home in Essex Fells to her current colonial-style home, reusing nearly all of the furniture from her previous residence.

How do you take furnishings designated for a particular style of house and make them work in an entirely different setting? Magic might be one explanation. But Vizzone, who formerly worked for Polo Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, says style is much more than what you buy and use to fill a space. “You just have to have an eye for it and put it together the way your instincts tell you,” she says.

Granted, Vizzone’s eye has been trained throughout the years, especially in her home-staging work. She often is hired to go into a house and mix up the furnishings in a fashion that will appeal to potential buyers. Many satisfied sellers have told her they would have stayed in their home had they known it could look so good. “I’m good at it,” she says, “but everyone can be.”

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enlarge | Vizzone keeps her home’s color palette uniform, with lots of black and white and rare pops of color. The effect is visually restful. It also gives her lots of flexibility when rearranging furnishings.
Consider the Space
It all begins with a respect and appreciation for the bones of whatever space you have, she says. Doing so forces you to be more creative with your solutions. In fact, Vizzone was drawn to her home in Montclair precisely because of its quirkiness. “There are lots of surprises in it,” she says. “I like that it’s deceiving. People are surprised at how spacious it is once you get inside.”

She was able to translate her modern tastes into the traditional space with a few adjustments. First, she whitewashed all the walls and trim. She also had the floors refinished in a dark stain that is consistent throughout the house. Doing so allowed those surfaces to visually recede. “I want the pieces in the room to speak for the room,” she says. “I almost want the walls to disappear.”

Indeed, those pieces speak loudly. Her choice in furniture and accessories is often stark and bold. But in every room, she softened the look with a skillful mix of textures—plush carpets, mottled skins, shimmering crystals, gleaming steel.

“I like textures,” she says. “They would look like different colors even if they aren’t.”

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enlarge | The elegance of the family room belies its practicality. The Kartell tables are durable and a cinch to clean.?And white leather holds up better than black with proper care, Vizzone says. The floor lamp looks almost like photographer’s equipment; its top can be rotated to cast light anywhere.
Take Your Time
Vizzone eventually wants to share her decorating and lifestyle tips in a book she has drafted. Her first bit of advice for achieving an effortlessly stylish home is to live in it before making any major purchases. “I always say, ‘Just go slow.’ You live in a house and respect the space before deciding what to put into it.”

If you’ve already owned a home or rented an apartment for years, it helps to get a new perspective on your furnishings. Vizzone suggests sitting in different places within a room and taking a closer look at what’s there. “After you’ve walked into a space for so long, it’s almost like you don’t see things anymore.”

In existing homes, she likes to start with the basics. Accessories are easily affordable and can be changed seasonally—a cotton throw on the sofa in the summer, a wool throw for the winter. She also believes in heavy editing, which she says is crucial to maintenance. Remove whatever isn’t necessary or what you no longer love. And if you truly can’t bear to part with something, store it. You never know where you can work it back in. “Everything in your surroundings should feel good,” she says.

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enlarge | The sitting room outside of the master bedroom came together around artist Donald Baechler’s Flowers prints.
Design “Truths” vs. Reality
As for the notion that you can’t have beautiful things just because you have kids, Vizzone doesn’t buy into it. She points to her own living room as proof. Her white leather DWR Warehouse sofa is easier to clean and maintain than black leather, she says. The Kartell tables look expensive and chic, but they’re also durable and spill-friendly. “I hate when I go to someone’s house and you can tell no one sits in the living room,” she says. “I have three kids...I don’t want any room to be off-limits.”

She also rejects the idea that you need to spend a lot of money to have great style. In her home she uses Ikea silver floor lamps she purchased for about $50 each. They are nearly identical to Ralph Lauren lamps that cost thousands, she says.

Where color is concerned Vizzone is conservative, and she tends to keep things simple, uniform and fluid. It’s restful to the eye, suits her modern tastes and also makes it easier to rearrange furnishings—a plus for a busy mom.

In fact, she’s endlessly and unapologetically restyling her own space, as one might expect.

“If it’s done, you should move,” she insists. “You should never feel like you’ve done all you can do.”

Denise DiFulco, a regular contributor to Design NJ, is a Cranford-based writer.


Overall: interior design, Elizabeth Vizzone Interiors in Montclair; landscaping, Carlos Interiano in Hopatcong; exterior painting and shutters, Wilber’s Painting in Maplewood. Vestibule: chandelier, Ballard Designs in West Chester, Ohio; mirror, custom by Sky Frame Inc. in New York City; large vase, Fornasetti; table and X-benches, Jonathan Adler in New York City; skin rug,; chair, Design Within Reach in Secaucus. Living Room: chandeliers, Restoration Hardware; art over fireplace, Jose Camacho in Montclair; white leather sofa and chaise, Design Within Reach; piano, Steinway; rugs, A&S Carpets in Newark; black leather chaise, B&B Italia in New York City; coffee table, Jonathan Adler; sling chairs, Le Corbusier through Design Within Reach; silver task lamps, Ikea; window treatments, Mark Dahan of A&M Window Fashions in New York City. Family Room: sofa, Design Within Reach; pillows, Fornasetti and Ikea; stacking tables, Kartell in New York City; rug, A&S Carpets; window treatments, A&M Window Fashions; lighting fixture, Fortuny through Design Within Reach; task lamps, Ikea. Dining Room: chandelier and table, Restoration Hardware; chairs, CB2; rug, A&S Carpets; art, Jose Camacho; storage cabinets, White on White in New York City. Breakfast Area and Butler’s Pantry: table and chairs, Knoll in New York City; pillows, Fornasetti; light fixture, All Modern; clock, George Nelson; art, Portobello Road in Edgartown, Mass­a­­chusetts. Master Bedroom: bed, Design Within Reach; bedding, Calvin Klein Home in New York City; chair and footstool, Knoll; night tables, Pottery Barn; lamps, Kartell; reading lamps, Ikea; rug, Master Bedroom Sitting Area: sofa, chair, Le Corbusier chaise, George Nelson stool and Arco?floor lamp, all through Design Within Reach; coffee table and task lamp, Ikea; skin on floor,; art, Donald Baechler in New York City. Daughter’s Bedroom: bed and furniture, Room and Board; bedding, Calvin Klein Home; art,; night table lamp, Target; rug, A&S Carpets; stool, Calypso in Short Hills; wallpaper, Ralph Lauren Home. Son’s Bedroom: bed, night table, bookshelf and art, Restoration Hardware; task lamp, Ikea; chair, Knoll.

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