From the June/July 2022 Issue  

Give & Take

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Raquel Langworthy  |  Designer Karen B. Wolf  |  Location Short Hills, NJ

A Short Hills renovation involves keeping what works and transforming what doesn’t.

The homeowners use the living room for entertaining. “The room is formal, but there’s a casual seating area next to the bar,” designer Karen Wolf says. The room also acts as a passage to the office, which features many of the same colors used in different ways.

Having been built fairly recently — in the mid-aughts — Amar and Neha Khubani’s Short Hills, New Jersey, home was not in need of major repair when they purchased it a few years ago. It did, however, require some interior cosmetic renovations to bring it more in line with their tastes. The well-traveled couple wanted to furnish their home in a style reminiscent of the luxurious hotels they’ve visited. “The ‘luxe’ aspect was a major consideration,” says Karen Wolf of Short Hills-based Karen B. Wolf Interiors. “They wanted every room to have a ‘wow’ factor.” To establish that elevated look, the designer added metallic accents throughout the home, deployed in strategic proportions that make a statement without overpowering the spaces. “We didn’t want it to look garish,” Wolf explains. “We wanted just enough for it to be livable but to present itself as elegant.”

  • The dated kitchen was outfitted with new flooring and backsplash tile. Most of the original cabinetry was retained with selective editing of fussy details, such as the corbels above the cooktop and on the island. “I’ve done a lot of kitchen refreshes,” designer Karen Wolf says. “This was the most impactful. It’s a very bright and happy kitchen.”




  • “I love this whole vignette with the two blue paintings over the console,” Wolf says. Blue accents are used in many rooms in the house. “We like to weave a color through the spaces.”




In the living room, mixed metals make an appearance in accessories such as the cocktail tables and the brass-and-polished-nickel light fixture. These gleaming accents add an understated dose of glamour to the space’s gray-and-blue palette, an apt addition because this room was designed for entertaining. “The homeowners are very social, and they wanted to create an inviting bar-like feel in an often-unused space like a living room.”

Mixed metals give the kitchen a subtle sheen as well, thanks to silver insets in the backsplash tile, brass cabinet hardware and gilded chains on the pendants above the island. “Those pendants really drove the design,” Wolf says. “Having proper light is very important.” In this case, “proper” means slightly larger than standard. “I’m a huge fan of overscaled lighting. I usually up the size for impact. And when fixtures are clear, like these are, they don’t look as big. You’re able to get away with a larger size.”

  • The gray-and-blue color scheme from the living room carries through to the office, where gray guest chairs stand out against the deep blue cabinetry.




  • The office was transformed by painting the original cabinetry. The space features a linear light fixture that complements the fixture in the adjoining living room. “When you have spaces that connect, you need to balance the lighting,” Wolf says. “We picked up the finishes, but the shape of the light changed so they could talk to each other and not compete. They need to be friends.”




The designer swapped the original kitchen flooring for wood-look porcelain tile and outfitted the dining area with contemporary furniture in white and gold. But perhaps the most dramatic element in the kitchen makeover involved the cabinetry, the majority of which Wolf retained. She streamlined the look by removing fussy corbels on the island and above the cooktop, then replaced the existing ogee-edged countertops with sleeker, straight-edged quartz in white with subtle gray striations. A crisp coat of white paint freshens the perimeter cabinetry, while a deep gray hue on the island adds a shot of color to the neutral space.

  • The dining room millwork frames the wall covering, which features an understated pattern in cream, green, a hint of teal and a little bit of gold. “It’s very subtle,” Wolf says.




The designer also preserved the millwork in the dining room. “The crown molding was one of the reasons the clients bought the house,” Wolf notes. While the homeowners liked the shape of the molding, they were less enamored of the way it had been embellished. “It was originally gold and stenciled. We simplified it, but we kept the form of the original crown intact.” Wolf also kept the thin strips of millwork that border the upper and lower wall, highlighting them with white paint for a cleaner, more contemporary look.

The vinyl-wrapped coffee table features acrylic legs. Wolf says, “it’s large, so it’s great to use with an oversized sectional. It’s also soft, so it’s a really good choice for kids. Nobody is going to hurt themselves.” The glass orbs in the light fixture reiterate those in the kitchen pendants.

The original crown molding in the family room was saved also, but Wolf dramatically transformed the fireplace by removing an elaborately carved surround in favor of floor-to-ceiling tile. “We bumped out the wall, framed a new surround and clad it in porcelain tile in a chevron pattern.” The sleek new fireplace is now a focal point in a room where there are fewer metallic accents. “This is their casual room; so we didn’t go as luxe in here. It’s transitional but it’s not as jeweled.”

  • The new fireplace features floor-to-ceiling porcelain tiles in a chevron pattern.




Though every room has a distinct design, the overall effect is cohesive. Wolf says, “We took a holistic approach. It makes sense visually. The house tells one story.”