From the December 2018/January 2019 Issue  

Clean, Fresh & Contemporary

Writer Robin Amster  |  Photographer Marco Ricca  |  Designer Acker Bryant Design  |  Location Ocean, NJ

A designer breathes new life into a dark, outdated family room.

FAMILY ROOM | Designer Jeff Acker chose a neutral palette as the fresh new backdrop for this redesign of this family room. He mixed a variety of textures, fabrics and materials — including mohair, leather, metallics and a high shag — to create a contemporary look with a bit of edginess and glamour.

Traditional style, oversized furniture and a color palette of reds, greens and golds all added up to a heavy, outdated design in the family room of Dr. Marc and Louisa Liechtung’s Ocean, New Jersey, home.

It also added up to the opposite of a good fit for this young, sophisticated, “fashion-forward” family, says Jeff Acker, a member of the International Interior Design Association and a principal of Deal, New Jersey-based Acker Bryant Design. The Liechtungs and their three sons had traded their Manhattan apartment for the contemporary home on a sprawling three-acre property nestled in the woods. They planned to redesign the home room by room.

Louisa Liechtung notes the previous homeowners had left their furniture in the family room. Her description of the room: “ugly, ugly.”
Now she can describe it in a much more positive way.

BUFFET | The buffet/bar has a silver gray metallic finish. It’s functional as well as beautiful, providing storage and acting as display space for food and beverages. It’s topped by an Art Deco-inspired mirror that reflects the room’s accessories and artwork.

The family room was the first to be redesigned. The design firm gutted the space in preparation for a complete overhaul. “They were looking for clean, fresh and contemporary,” Acker says. “They wanted to lighten the whole feel of the space yet keep it edgy and fun at the same time.”
A palette of taupe, mushroom, gray and other natural tones forms the backdrop for the wide range of textures and fabrics Acker used to breathe life into the space. The sofa, for example, wears a combination of three fabrics: mohair, paisley silk back cushions and metallic embossed lumbar pillows. Acker pulled out the bronze, silver and gold shades of the paisley cushions to use throughout the room, while the metallic in the lumbar pillows introduces other metallic elements in the room.

On each side of two wing chairs are antique hammered silver drums. The coffee table bears a wood finish with a slight metallic bronze glaze. An unusual table at one end of the room is wood with a grayish/taupe/beige metallic finish. It has a hydraulic system that allows the homeowners to raise it to game height—for Louisa’s mah jong games, for example—or lower it to cocktail height. A custom buffet/bar has a metallic silver gray finish.

The wing chairs, wrapped in bone pearlescent leather with antique silver nail heads, and a taupe high-shag area rug with a glossy sheen, add yet more texture.

The family room, which opens to the kitchen, provides optimum function as well as style. The table in the forefront, flanked by four swivel chairs, features a hydraulic system that allows the owners to raise it for game playing or lower it for serving cocktails. A wall of windows is encased in shutters, creating a play of natural light throughout the space.

Acker also addressed the design of the fireplace. He replaced a surround of dark brown boulders with stacked Jerusalem stone in shades of taupe, beige and sand.

To add interest and flair to what had been a plain ceiling, Acker added a fretwork pattern and, at its center, placed a semiflush-mounted light fixture of textured Asian linen with a soft metallic framework.

The Liechtungs are delighted with the redesigned room. “I told Jeff that once we do the family room, we don’t want to have to do it again for a long time,” Liechtung says. “It’s not faddy and it’s comfortable. We use it every day. We want each room in our home to have its own flair and to make its own statement,” she adds. “For the family room, it’s classic and livable.”