From the June/July 2023 Issue  

Brighter Grays

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Visual Marketing & Design  |  Designer Sandra Cosimano, Allied ASID  |  Location Essex County, NJ

The notable, yet neutral, tone sets a soothing foundation in an Essex County, New Jersey, home

The kitchen was expanded in the remodel. “This space is the heartbeat of the home,” designer Sandra Cosimano says.


This 1930s-era residence was in need of an update. “The original home was composed of smaller rooms that flowed maze-like through­out the house. The clients wanted to modernize and expand,” says Sandra Cosimano, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner and sole proprietor of Sandra Marie Interior Designs LLC in Tewksbury. An addition at the rear of the home and the removal of several walls began the transformation to the open, airy home the clients desired. “We created a main artery from the front door that allowed access to every room without going through another room,” Cosimano explains.

The new, brighter spaces have a serene vibe thanks to a predominantly gray palette. “The owners have a very busy lifestyle,” the designer notes. “I wanted to create something soothing.” The gray tones are carried from room to room with slight adaptations. “We went with a gray undertone but created variations in each room to pick up either a blue, a green or a silver.”

The kitchen dining area features two armchairs that face the beverage center. The wide cabinet above the sink conceals a television. “I try to keep technology invisible to whatever degree possible,” Cosimano explains.

“The homeowners indicated they wanted a second dishwasher, a wine refrigerator and a plumbed coffee maker,” Cosimano says. All those appliances are contained in the beverage center.

In the kitchen, the color scheme is reflected in cabinetry that features two distinct gray tones. “We wanted the kitchen to be the heartbeat of the house for family and entertaining,” Cosimano says.

The room is designed to facilitate gatherings large and small with distinct areas for meal prep, dining and lounging. “The room was so large,” the designer says. “The clients didn’t need a table that would fill that entire space, so I created two segments out of the dining area. One is for eating, the other for relaxing with two armchairs and a table in between.”

The entire kitchen is accessorized with silver-toned accents, including the hardware on the cabinetry and the light fixtures above the island. “To complement the soothing palette, I insisted on using a satin nickel here and throughout the house,” Cosimano explains.

The family room features a coffered ceiling with white beams and soft gray insets.

In the family room, the gray palette coexists peacefully with wood tones designed to stand out. The coffee table, for example, features a geometric wood base and glass top. “For me, coffee tables are focal points. I looked for a very long time for something architectural,” the designer says. “I wanted the base to be artistic, and I wanted a glass top to create an open feel.” Cosimano topped off the room with a shallow coffered ceiling composed of white beams against a pale gray background.

In the living room, Cosimano added the wainscoting and panels on the walls to create interest.


In the living room, the designer added interest to standard, flat walls by adding white wainscoting and panels bordering gray insets to create a frame for the abstract art the homeowners enjoy. The wainscoting carries into the dining room, where an octagonal ceiling treatment pulls focus to a starburst light fixture. Glass sliding doors to the kitchen can be left open to promote traffic between the spaces or closed to display the millwork accentuating the glass. “We used straight lines to communicate that this design is transitional rather than traditional.”

Columns flank the living room entry to the dining room. The glass doors at left lead to the kitchen. “I designed glass doors to let beautiful light from the dining room into the kitchen.”


The project was a great success, Cosimano says, thanks in large part to the clients. “I had the pleasure of working with incredibly gracious, professional homeowners who were clear on their objectives for the renovation but were then willing to hand over the visualization and execution of the project with such trust. The chemistry with them was magnificent, and I am grateful to them for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.”

A bedroom features varying shades of gray and white with a hit of bright red coming from the artwork over the dresser. Cosimano designed the custom cornices. “I drew the design to resemble the design of the headboard,” she says.

Cylindrical light fixtures in the primary bathroom mirror the circles in the border of the inlaid tile “rug.” Cosimano removed the top half of the shower wall. “I knew the homeowners might enjoy natural light coming into the shower.”