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Music Is the Muse

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Ryan M. Brown  |  Location Hoboken, NJ  | 

Designer Antoinette Allande Anderson takes inspiration from her clients’ wedding song — “This Must be the Place” — in the design of their three-bedroom Hoboken condo 

Emily Haas and James Dever on their wedding day. Photo by Adena Stevens, Studio A Images.

Young newlyweds Emily Hass and James Dever were searching for the feeling of home to begin their married life, interior designer Antoinette Allande Anderson says. As a guest at their wedding, “I felt a vibe consistent throughout the day where I really understood my clients’ personalities and lifestyle, says Allande, owner of Antoinette Allande Interiors in Hoboken. “It was laid back, meaningful and cozy, and they had great people all around them.”

Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:

“Home, is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there
I come home, she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
… Did I find you, or you find me?”

Meg: Do you often turn to music as a source of design inspiration? How did it influence your clients’ home in particular?

Antoinette: I find music to be very inspiring, perhaps because my father is a professional musician and there was always music at home when I was growing up. Their wedding song has a sentiment that conjures up warmth and love. It inspired me to create a very cozy and personal home in a Scandinavian Modern aesthetic. The result is an eclectic and organic modern design within an ordinary architectural space and limited budget.

“The clients favored a neutral color palette, and I inserted green to bring in a bit of nature,” Allande says. Lots of warm wood tones, soft and chunky textiles, and large wool rugs make the interiors super cozy. Sources: sofa, coffee table and media console, Crate & Barrel; chandelier, Aerin; natural woven rug, Jaipur Living; chair, Industry West; fluffy white pillows, The Citizenry; throw, RH.

The living areas looked plain and lacked character before.

 Meg: In what ways did you elevate the ordinary architecture?

Antoinette: The architecture is cookie cutter — nothing remarkable stands out. My approach was to add very exciting BIG lighting, art and furniture. Vintage ceramics and African textiles serve as accents. I layered it all, and you no longer notice the dull architecture. Voila! Now they have a stunning room!

In the main living areas, walls, doors and trim are painted the same color: “Silvery Moon” by Benjamin Moore. “This is my secret to making the ceilings look taller and the rooms look bigger,” Allande says. And the extra-large pendant above the table? “My clients were initially intimidated by the size, but I assured them it would be perfect to fill up the long, uninspired ceiling,” she says. “Now they love it! It’s the hero of the room.” Sources in dining area: table, chairs and buffet, West Elm; large pendant, Rimini from Arteriors; natural woven rug with tribal pattern, Jaipur Living.

Meg: How did you stretch the decorating budget with various design choices? Were there some areas where you splurged?

Antoinette: Wallpaper and lighting always elevate a space. I selected upscale brands such as Eskayel and Arteriors for these items. I always include vintage items in my projects as they add a lot of character and elevate the space. A lot of the furniture came from West Elm or Crate & Barrel to keep the budget on track. We did not have the funds for custom window treatments so I specified drapes from RH. I took the drapery panels to the local dry cleaner and had them hemmed. I had to be a bit scrappy!

Meg: There is a range of artwork that commands attention. What was your approach to wall decor?

Antoinette: I painted the abstract art above the console in colors that complement the room’s palette. Artwork by Alexander Calder served as inspiration. I like the way some of his paintings explore different shapes and the midcentury vibe. My clients selected the empty pool photographs by J. Bennett Fitts. They asked me not to source expensive artwork, and then they came back one day with those photos costing over $6,000! This always happens. We fall in love with art and end up spending five times the budget!

Midcentury-inspired artwork — painted by Allande herself — harmonizes with the home’s color palette.

Meg: What changes or enhancements did you make to the kitchen?

Antoinette: The kitchen was a little boring and just needed some pretty decoration. We replaced a hideous builder-grade chandelier with large, frosted-globe pendants from Williams Sonoma Home. We painted the kitchen in Benjamin Moore’s “Silvery Moon” to complement the blue-gray tile. I specified the counter stools and accessories from Rejuvenation. The black and white painting is also by me. I think art in the kitchen is always a good idea.

Left: The kitchen before the redesign. | Right: The kitchen today.

Meg: Was it important to establish a visual connection from the main living areas and the couple’s bedroom?

Antoinette: My design process always begins with the concept, which informs every decision, in this case Scandinavian Modern. There needs to be a harmony and cohesiveness throughout the entire home. We kept the same finishes and color palette as well as furniture forms.

“My clients insisted on having a ceiling fan in the bedroom so I couldn’t get a statement chandelier in the design,” Allande says. Her remedy? An attention-getting Serge Mouille-style sconce near the daybed. Sources: bed and daybed, Crate & Barrel; nightstands, West Elm; vintage African Kuba pillows, Makrosha; other pillows, McGee & Co.; rug, Jaipur Living.

The cork wall covering from Innovations — one of the designer’s favorites — has a delicate silver sparkle detail, she says.

Meg: Do you like creating a wow factor in powder rooms or does it just depend on the project?

Antoinette: Powder rooms are my favorite! I love a tiny space that I can trick out and go bold. The Eskayel wallpaper has an organic nature vibe and gorgeous colors. This was the first wallpaper I presented to my clients, and they agreed it was worth the splurge.

The David Bowie photograph in the redesigned powder room was a Christmas gift from Allande. “They are huge fans,” she says. Right: The powder room before the redesign. 

Meg: How are the newlyweds settling in?

Antoinette: They absolutely love the space! We worked together as a team — we named ourselves the “design thrupple!” I work very closely with my clients, and sometimes we end up feeling like family because we spend so much time together in their homes. When I go to their place to visit, I actually feel so at home because I put a lot of love into those spaces. I’m really proud of that home and feel so privileged to have James and Emily’s trust.

Editor’s Note: Other rooms in this home, including the den, are a work in progress due to the all-too-common issues with furniture delays in the past 1 ½ years. Should the sofa-bed and other pieces for the den arrive soon, we’d love to see the outcome!