From the December 2021/January 2022 Issue  

‘Mad Men’ Charisma

Writer Ren Miller  |  Photographer Mike Van Tassell  |  Designer Anna Maria Mannarino, Allied ASID  |  Location Summit, NJ

The iconic television series inspires the design of a Summit condo

A sofa covered in turquoise velvet provides a colorful spot to relax. The matching ottoman can be pulled close for lounging or pushed to the side to ease traffic flow.

The Midcentury Modern vibe of “Mad Men” — the critically acclaimed television series depicting the 1960s world of Madison Avenue ad agencies — comes to life in a Summit, New Jersey, condo designed by Anna Maria Mannarino.

The idea to capture the style came from her client, Dr. John Bouffard, who was then newly separated and wanting to start the next chapter of his life in a sophisticated bachelor pad. Frustrated after trying to design the condo himself, he stood outside a home décor store one day and started dialing interior designers, including Mannarino, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Mannarino Designs Inc., an interior, event and product design firm based in Holmdel. “We had a long conversation, met the next day, and he hired me on the spot,” Mannarino recalls. “John is one of those clients where we connected immediately.”

Bouffard’s main concern, Mannarino says, was how to turn the long, narrow, “very vanilla” condo into a comfortable, inviting space where he could entertain, play his guitars alone and with friends, and accommodate any of his three sons when they visit. And because this was a rental, major structural changes were out of the question.

“I decided the best approach was to create three areas within the long living room space,” Mannarino says. First, she separated the living spaces from the kitchen by adding a partial wall and covering it with the same wallpaper as on the living room walls.

Then she got to work dividing the living room into a main area for relaxing and watching television, an additional seating area where Bouffard can play his guitar and jam with other musicians, and a small dining area. In the main area, Bouffard first thought he wanted a sectional or a sofa with a chaise. Instead, Mannarino suggested a custom Midcentury Modern sofa with matching ottoman. “This gave him the lounging comfort of a chaise but also the flexibility of moving the ottoman to ease traffic flow or use it for extra seating,” she says. She covered the sofa in turquoise velvet, a bright jewel tone that plays into the “Mad Men” ethos. The striking color also plays well with the gold accents, inspired by artwork above the sofa, that are found elsewhere in the space. A console (not pictured) provides a spot for a television and offers much needed storage, and small drink tables take up less space than a bulky cocktail table.

In the music area, three of Bouffard’s guitars hang on the wall when not in use. The instruments include a Höfner violin bass (“Beatle bass”), the same design used by Paul McCartney, and a Carvin five-string fretless bass, model AC50, all mahogany like one used by John McVie of Fleetwood Mac. The Beatles artwork is by Rebecca Blades Tsien.

Mannarino visually separated the main area from the music area with a Midcentury Modern wood floor lamp/table and different area rugs: a cinnamon and gold wool and silk design anchors the main space while a champagne gold on champagne gold wool and silk rug defines the music area. Also in the music area are a Midcentury Modern bookcase, two small lounge chairs, an amp and a bar cart deserving of any “Mad Men”-inspired space. On the walls are three of Bouffard’s prized guitars and Beatles artwork by Rebecca Blades Tsien, a good friend of Bouffard.

With limited space for a dining area, Mannarino chose a small high-top table and coordinating stools for the space along the wall that separates the main area from the kitchen.

Bouffard was involved in selecting the furniture, some fabrics and overall style, but then he stood back and let Mannarino work her magic. “He just wanted to be surprised,” she says. “That made the reveal much more fun!”

How does Bouffard like Mannarino’s design of the condo? He recently purchased a home and she’s working on the interior design.