From the August/September 2018 Issue

Two Sides of the Story

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Peter Rymwid  |  Designer Jennifer McGee Design Inc.  |  Location Ridgewood, NJ
  • Crystal-faceted sconces, mirrors with leaded glass borders and a freestanding tub in the master bathroom pay tribute to the home’s turn-of-the-20th-century provenance.

  • Designer Jennifer McGee calls the grosgrain ribbon bordering the Roman shade and the wallpaper “dressmaker details.” The light fixture (reflected in the mirror) has an Art Deco appeal.

In Ridgewood, NJ, a calming master bathroom and a lively powder room reflect the history of the home.

A peaceful atmosphere was very important to the Ridgewood, NJ, homeowner when she added a master bathroom. “I wanted quiet elegance,” she says, “a space that feels restful, but not overly posh. I wanted a quiet feel to it.” The bathroom is part of an addition to the 1908 Colonial Revival home, and the owner wanted to ensure the new space would match the historical sensibilities of the existing rooms. “The intention was to make it look like it had always been there.”

The homeowner enlisted the help of designer Jennifer McGee, who understood the necessity of creating a seamless transition between old and new. “We tried to keep with the architectural style of the home, melding those aspects with the 21st century,” says McGee, owner of Jennifer McGee Design Inc. in Ridgewood. “We wanted it to have elegance and Old World sophistication, but with all the modern amenities.”

One amenity that’s both modern and classic is marble, which covers the floor, a portion of the wall and the countertop. “My dream was to have a white marble bathroom,” the owner explains. “It was a big decision for me because it’s not inexpensive, but I wanted that feeling.”

Steadfast style—the kind that works beautifully in any time period—was the ultimate goal

The dark wood of the cabinetry makes a dramatic statement against the soft hues of the marble. “We wanted something to warm up the space,” the owner says of the custom vanity, which was designed to look freestanding. The piece has a timeless appearance, with drawers rather than doors and polished nickel knobs, though those were a long time coming, the homeowner says. “I can’t tell you how much hardware we looked at while trying to find something that looks like it’s always been there but that has a modern sensibility.”

Mirrors above the vanity feature leaded-glass borders punctuated by rosettes, a nod to the era of the house. The freestanding bathtub, with its slightly modern profile, blends past and present effortlessly. Sheer white linen café curtains contribute to the muted affect in this space. “I went for very simple, clean lines,” the homeowner says.

The first-floor powder room, on the other hand, is a bit more elaborate. “We wanted to have a little fun,” McGee says. The goal was to “modernize this room for a young family.” A navy-and-white geometric-patterned wallpaper covers the top half of the wall, bringing energy without overwhelming the small space. McGee describes the owner’s reaction to the bold wall covering: “When I showed her this pattern, she got so excited. Blue is one of her favorite colors.” The owner says she wanted the space “to be much more modern. That’s why we chose that incredible wallpaper. I absolutely love it.” The wallpaper is bordered by black grosgrain ribbon, as is the Roman shade. “Jennifer is just so brilliant with the way she puts everything together,” the owner says. “The ribbon really finishes the room.”

The wallpaper may have a modern feel, but the owner chose the sink for its retro style. “I wanted a very specific look,” she says. “It has brushed nickel legs and it looks like an old washstand, which is exactly what I was going for. The faucet has handles similar to the ones in the house I grew up in.”

That kind of steadfast style—the kind that works beautifully in any time period—was the ultimate goal. McGee says, “That was the homeowner’s directive. She said, ‘This home is going to be in our life forever. This is a home for generations to come.’”