From the December 2020/January 2021 Issue  

Bright and Breezy

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Jess Blackwell  |  Designer Marketa K. Pleasant  |  Location Princeton, NJ

A designer’s Princeton home is light, airy and (mostly) orderly

The rich tones of the midnight-blue base cabinetry and the brown leather stools bring warmth to the primarily white kitchen.

Modern Farmhouse” was the inspiration for designer Marketa K. Pleasant as she planned her new home three years ago. Pleasant, of MK Pleasant Interior Design in Princeton, wanted her dwelling to reflect her decorative preferences as well as those of her husband. “He’s from North Carolina and I was raised in New Jersey,” she explains. “We wanted a home that spoke to both of us. The modern farmhouse look played into both my husband’s southern roots and my modern aesthetic.”

Wood accents and vintage textiles soften the sleek lines of the expansive entry. “I love rugs—specifically vintage rugs. I love the patina they have to them,” says designer Marketa Pleasant.

The windows are a striking example of the home’s modern style. They’re abundant and dramatic and, according to Pleasant, they’re the family’s favorite thing about the house. “We are an outdoorsy family,” she explains, “so large, floor-to-ceiling windows were an easy choice for us. They’ve made nature our artwork, and there isn’t anything more soothing than that to our family.” The expansive rooms, which serve to underscore those fabulous exterior views, are furnished simply but stylishly. “The shell of the space—with its open floor plan, high ceilings and big windows—set the tone for the modern, clean look,” according to the designer.

The dining room set has a rustic feel with a modern edge.

The sleek, contemporary vibe is tempered by wood accents. “I grounded the space and warmed it up a bit with the natural tones of wood,” says Pleasant. Wood elements appear throughout the home including in the stair rail, where they’re interspersed with iron rods to create an appealing mélange of industrial and rustic components. Wood planks are also strategically located above certain doors and windows. In the master bedroom, heavy wood beams accentuate the soaring, vaulted ceiling.

“We spend all our time in there,” says Pleasant of the living room. “I find it to be a very comfortable place to be as a family.  We have a big, comfy, deep couch that the kids sink into. There’s nothing formal about it.”

Much of the décor is understated, with white as a prevailing tone. “My personal aesthetic is very minimal,” says Pleasant. Still, she included bits of color in measured proportions to add interest in the open spaces. In the kitchen, the island and lower cabinets are midnight blue, a sharp contrast to the white upper cabinets. In the living room, blue and orange carpets create a central focal point in the mostly neutral space.

Layered furnishings—carpet over carpet, pillow over pillow— add cozy charm to the living room.

Wood beams draw the eye to the vaulted ceiling in the master bedroom. Luxurious, layered pillows and a plump comforter make the bed an inviting retreat.

The designer, an antique enthusiast, also incorporated vintage pieces into the décor. “I’m forever bringing home items from my antique shopping,” she says. Vintage items include an earth-tone runner in the entryway, a wood armchair in the living room and the bed in her daughter’s room, which came from Pleasant’s own childhood room. “I mixed in layers of furniture and rugs to achieve an eclectic, lived-in look,” she adds.

When it comes to a lived-in look, Pleasant goes with the flow of family life. Though she’s partial to minimalist white furnishings, “obviously, that doesn’t suit a lifestyle with young children.”

To accommodate the inevitable messes, Pleasant compromised. “I love white couches and I didn’t want to sacrifice that look; so I bought a sofa with a slipcover that I can wash.” In addition, Pleasant finds that vintage rugs are extremely compatible with young children.  “While they can be an investment, they also wear well since they already come beaten up. The more patina on them the better!”

The kids’ bathroom features two mirrors above a navy double vanity with space-efficient wall-mounted faucets.

Pleasant’s practical approach to maintaining order goes a step farther. The basement, the playroom and the mudroom are the designated “messy areas.” “I basically sacrificed a few rooms to save the other rooms,” she laughs.

Keeping messes contained provides Pleasant with peace of mind. “We entertain a lot; sometimes very last minute. So the ability to close doors to the ‘messy rooms’ is priceless,” she says. “We love our home. We customized every detail to the way we use it. It’s clean and minimal, but still warm and laidback, comfortable and inviting.”