From the April/May 2015 Issue:

Neutral Territory

    Writer: Mary Vinnedge | Photographer: Peter Rymwid | Interior Designer: Jennifer Pacca, Allied Member ASID | Architect: Jordan Rosenberg | Builder: Jonathan Hatchual |

Grays and beiges take center stage in a rebuilt Montvale home

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enlarge | An Asian sculpture from Pier 1 anchors the collected look of the foyer. Other distinctive touches include a chrome-trimmed demilune with crystal knobs, a cheetah-patterned needlepoint stair runner and an ebony-stained oak floor.
Homeowner Andrea Nitzan is the first to say that design decisions overwhelm her, so she relied on a team of trusted professionals to create her dream house. And they did. “It’s exactly what I wanted even though I didn’t know what I wanted,” Nitzan says.

Andrea and Mitchell Nitzan had spent about 10 years in their 1980s colonial-style home in Montvale and were ready to expand it. Architect Jordan Rosenberg of Jordan Rosenberg Architects & Associates in Ridgewood drew plans, and Jonathan Hatchual of Soho Building & Remodeling in Fort Lee was tapped for the construction. Hatchual recommended the couple hire interior designer Jennifer Pacca, and she joined the project just before the renovation began.

Then Andrea Nitzan got a big surprise: Hatchual tore off the top story, although two second-floor bedrooms and a bathroom were to have remained in place under Rosenberg’s plan.

“My nanny at the time had driven by and told me they took the roof off, and I thought she meant just the shingles. I didn’t expect it. It was a little bit of a shock,” Nitzan states calmly. Now. More than four years later.

When she asked Hatchual about it, the contractor explained it was better to tear off the second story and start fresh. “‘Don’t worry,’ he told me. ‘I’m going to build you a beautiful house.’” Nitzan says in recalling their exchange. At that point, the Nitzans decided in for a penny, in for a pound, and stopped the work for a major rethink.

The couple ultimately decided to demolish the house, although the basement would be saved and expanded for a 10-foot-high gymnastics room that has a spring floor and balance beam for two daughters who compete in gymnastics. Rosenberg redrew plans, including a second story that would now be as large as the first and with the high ceilings Nitzan had always wanted upstairs. The change allowed each of the Nitzans’ three daughters (11, 13 and 15 years old) to have her own bathroom. “In hindsight, knocking down the house and starting from scratch was the best thing we did,” Nitzan says.

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enlarge | The homeowners opted to forgo a living room but get a lot of mileage out of their comfortable family room. Andrea Nitzan wanted great views from indoors, and architect Jordan Rosenberg accommodated her with three sets of French doors that look onto a stone patio, another high priority for Nitzan. The low-pile shag rug is super-soft and barefoot-friendly. A remote-controlled gas fireplace provides visual and actual warmth on chilly evenings.
Creating Anew
The interior designer, a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers and principal of Jennifer Pacca Interiors in Hillsdale, tweaked the positions of bathroom entryways and enlarged a kitchen window in the new plan. Pacca’s other early responsibilities were space-planning, cabinetry design and lighting design (“There are three or four options for lighting in every room, many on dimmers,” Nitzan says). After that, she and Nitzan would choose appliances, fixtures and tiles for the home, which has 7½ bathrooms. Last they selected furnishings and fabrics. Pacca shopped at various places for the serene home: Most pieces were custom-made or ordered from high-end manufacturers; a few came from Pier 1 Imports and West Elm.

The starting point for the interior design was a photo, Pacca says. “Andrea showed me a dark kitchen with light countertops. Then I brought her a backsplash of carved Calacatta Gold marble that set the tone for the grays and beiges used in the back of the house. We did intend to bring color in, but then we decided not to because we loved it so much without the color.” (There is more color in the front of the house. The master bedroom is done in blues and beiges, and the daughters’ bedrooms are bright pink, purple and blue.)

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enlarge | The designer altered the kitchen plans, removing wall-hung cabinets on the exterior wall to make room for a larger window. The hand-cut Calacatta Gold marble tiles surrounding the window set the mostly neutral color scheme for the back of the home. Caesarstone wraps the island and also tops the maple base cabinets.
Providing Guidance
Nitzan says she “didn’t really have the vision for the interior. Jennifer did. She helped me with all the decisions—there are just so many...We didn’t shop together. I have a very demanding job [as an accountant] and three kids...I’m overwhelmed by decorating. One day I had a look in the tile store and just ran out. It was too much for me.

“Jennifer and I have very similar taste, and at the end of the project I just said, ‘Jennifer, you pick.’ She understood what I was trying to do.” Pacca says she provided photocopies or catalogs or showed furnishings on an iPad. “I’d bring in actual fabrics, tiles, paint colors and wood samples with stains so she could see the colors.”

Nitzan says she didn’t see anything of the finished pieces until they arrived, and “then they were even nicer than expected.”

Pacca sums up the project by saying, “The Nitzans and I really just kind of clicked. We had similar ideas and tastes. We got on the same wavelength, and Andrea was very open to my ideas.” The interior design “is a very soft modern. It’s livable. I love how it came out. I would love to move in there!”

Mary Vinnedge, Design NJ’s social media editor, writes from her home north of Dallas. You may contact her at or on Design NJ’s Facebook page.


Overall: interior design and window treatments, Jennifer Pacca Interiors in Hillsdale; architect, Jordan Rosenberg Architect & Associates in Ridgewood; builder, Soho Build­­ing & Remodeling in Fort Lee; cabinetry (including office), Rafael Designs LLC in Rochelle Park. Foyer: sculpture, Pier 1 Imports; demi­lune, Worlds Away in Memphis, Tennessee; mirrors, Crate & Barrel; stair runner, G. Fried Carpet in Paramus. Family Room: sectional, easy chairs and ottoman, Bernhardt in Lenoir, North Carolina; coffee table, Tritter Feefer in LaGrange, Georgia; fireplace tile, Ideal Tile in Paramus; chandelier, GLOW Lighting in Markham, Ontario; side table, West Elm; rug, G. Fried Carpets. Kitchen: countertop, Caesarstone; floor tile, Artistic Tile in Paramus; bar lighting, Arteriors in Carrollton, Texas. Breakfast Room: chandelier, Krell Lighting in Park Ridge; chairs, Designmaster Furniture in Hickory, North Carolina; table, Artistica in Ventura California. Office: desk, Tritter Feefer; desk chair, Designmaster; guest chair, Bernhardt; chandelier, Currey & Co. in Atlanta; rug, The Rug Importer in Paramus. Master Bathroom: countertop, Caesarstone; tub and sink, Kohler; toilet, Toto; floor tile, Artistic Tile; wall tiles, Ideal Tile. Daughter’s Bathroom: white wall tile, Porcelanosa in Ramsey; decorative wall tile, Artistic Tile; floor tile, Ideal Tile; toilet, Décor Planet in Brooklyn; sconces, Crystorama in Westbury, New York.

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