From the October/November 2008 Issue:

Personality Plus

  • Writer: Judy Jeannin
  • Photographer: Peter Rymwid
  • Designer: Tamara Dunner, Allied Member ASID, Associate Member IIDA

The custom-designed midcentury ranch had a lot going for it: good bones and a beautiful location in Smoke Rise, one of the oldest gated communities in the United States. Yet it was lacking personality — any sense of the couple who live there.

Article Photo
enlarge | A Chinese screen provides the focal point for the living room of a midcentury ranch home with a soaring 14-foot-high ceiling. The room showcases the owners’ collection of artifacts gathered from several Far Eastern countries. A mix of patterns and textures adds depth to the large room.
“It was very bare, but with a lot of furniture,” recalls interior designer Tamara Dunner of Tamara’s Interiors in Kinnelon, where the home is located. “When you walked in it was very white and stark.”

Homeowners Cheryl Canale and Douglas Bernegger were ready for a change. She loves to shop for antiques and artifacts and wanted to showcase her collection. The couple also wanted to reflect the lush outdoor setting with the interior design. It fell to Dunner, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and associate member of the International Interior Design Association, to find the right balance.

“They wanted someone to bring in the proper colors and fabrics and to rearrange the furniture. I tried to make it more warm and inviting,” Dunner says of her rich color palette and use of natural materials.

One of the first steps was to sort through the antiques and other furniture to select the best pieces. A nineteenth-century Chinese screen Bernegger inherited from his father inspired the palette in the living room, which is also accessorized with some Asian pieces from Canale’s collection. A painting found in the basement became the inspiration for one guest room, while another guest room showcases a metal bed frame and a wicker dress form that had been tucked away. The expanded kitchen also incorporates existing furniture and accessories.

“She had beautiful pieces,” Dunner says. “The screen became the focal point of the living room and makes everything come together. We have a bit of an Asian influence, but the room is really more eclectic.” The furnishings are a blend of styles — French, English, Indonesian, and Chinese. “I believe you can mix patterns and styles and still have fluidity and balance. It is a more interesting look,” Dunner, says.

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enlarge | By opening up a wall, designers Tamara Dunner and Melissa Seibold integrated the kitchen with an adjacent sitting room. Slate tiles wrap around the wall into the kitchen work area, creating a dramatic backdrop for the cabinetry and appliances. Dishes are housed in “the wing,” a light maple cabinet with a door that opens upward to make the contents easily accessible
Kitchen Fusion
Melissa Seibold, a kitchen designer with Canterbury Design in Morristown, collaborated with Dunner to open up the galley kitchen and merge it with an informal sitting room that overlooks a reservoir. “We wanted to do something interesting in that area and to keep it organic,” Dunner says. The result is a room that Seibold terms modern Asian fusion. Large slate tiles provide a striking backdrop and also cover a wall housing a television in the eating area. “By taking the coating of slate and wrapping around cabinets and windows, it reads as all one space,” Seibold explains.

The homeowners wanted a sleek, but warm feel to the room. “Modern can sometimes seem cold,” Seibold says. So she used light maple upper cabinetry for an open, modern touch and grounded the room with the more earthy, organic feel of dark oak base cabinetry.

The mismatched look continues on the countertops. One side of the galley kitchen is done in Mokalsar green granite, the other in absolute black leather-finish granite. A textured stainless steel backsplash behind the cooktop provides a sleek counterpoint to the slate on the opposite wall. Rattan inserts on the upper cabinet doors flanking the cooktop are a nod to the Asian theme and help to integrate a freestanding Chinese cabinet that bridges the work and seating areas.

In the kitchen, and throughout the house, windows are dressed with wooden blinds topped with swags or valances. “This house has the most beautiful views of the reservoir. I didn’t want to block those views,” Dunner explains. “The dark wood blinds help to warm up the rooms and give the owners some privacy.

“The work we put in changed the house completely,” she adds. “You can make these ranches anything you want.” - DNJ


Living Room: interior design, Tamara’s Interiors in Kinnelon; arrowroot wall covering, Phillip Jeffries Ltd. (T) in Fairfield; sofa, Ralph Lauren with fabric by Nancy Corzine (T), both in New York City; sofa pillows, Lee Jofa (T) with trim by Kravet (T), both in New York City; French chairs, Antiques & Finds (T) in Readington with fabric by Pindler & Pindler (T) in New York City; rug, Rug Importer in Riverdale. Kitchen: kitchen design, Melissa Seibold of Canterbury Design in Morristown; general contracting and installation of cabinetry, appliances, and lighting, Steve Smith of Duo Design in Rutherford; cabinetry, Artcraft Kitchens in Niagara Falls, Ontario, through Canterbury Design; slate tiles, MS International in Edison; granite countertops, Bridgewater Marble & Granite in Bound Brook; refrigerator, Sub-Zero; apron cooktop, Blue Star in Reading, Pennsylvania; dishwasher, Fisher & Paykel in Huntington Beach, California; sink and faucets, Franke Consumer Products in Hatfield, Pennsylvania; hardware, Top Knobs in Belle Mead; nesting tables in sitting room, Elijah Slocum-Fine Cabinetry & Collections (T) in New York City; ceiling fan, Minka Aire in Corona, California. Guest Room: bedspread, bed skirt, and plaid window-trim fabric, Highland Court (T) in New York City; green silk fabric on table and window treatment, Pindler & Pindler; trim, including glass colored beads and rope, New Jersey Textile and Supply Co. (T) in Clifton; wood blinds, CMI Interiors Inc. (T) in Springfield; carpet, Rug Importer; wall covering, Seabrook Wallcoverings in Memphis, Tennessee. Twin Guest Bedroom: arrowroot wallpaper, Phillip Jeffries Ltd.; fabric for window treatment and pillows, Pollack (T) in New York City; bed spread, Pindler & Pindler; trim on pillows, bedding, and window treatments, Kravet Couture (T); wood blinds, CMI Interiors Inc.; bedskirt, Brentano Inc. in Wheeling, Illinois. (T) = To the trade.

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