From the August/September 2019 Issue  

Indoor Comfort Meets Outdoor Living (and Flamingos)

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Patricia Burke  |  Designer Suzette Donleavy, Celtic Concepts Inc.  |  Builder Martelli Signature Homes, Celtic Concepts Inc.  |  Location Shrewsbury, NJ  |  Landscape Design/Build Celtic Concepts  |  Built Martelli Signature Homes  |  Pool Installation Edgewater Pools Inc.

COLORFUL FUN | Crepe myrtle forms a colorful backdrop to the lineup of coral umbrellas and chaises with green-and-white-striped cushions. A whimsical pink flamingo is one of several larger-than-life-sized, fun floats in the fleet.

Surrounded by nature, this outdoor living area has all the creatures and comforts of home

Kristina Johnson of Little Silver, New Jersey, had very specific dreams of what her home would look like and how it would feel—both inside and out—interior designer Suzette Donleavy says. “She loves color, appreciates attention to details and also loves to garden and entertain,” says Donleavy, principal of Well-Designed Interiors in Shrewsbury, NJ. “We started inside, and by the time we got to the outside, we were on a roll.” There the task was simple: Bring the same attention to detail from the interior to the outdoors for a consistent, hospitable and happy flow.

BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE | From the vantage point of this cozy sectional, chock-full of all the comforts and colorful accents you would find indoors, owner Kristina Johnson takes in panoramic views of the grounds and waterfront setting. Blue and white ceramic vases hold hydrangea and other blooms from her garden.

The roughly 3-acre property, which overlooks the Shrewsbury River and runs adjacent to an 80-acre wildlife preserve, is not just a house, “it’s my sanctuary,” Kristina Johnson says. Home to deer, foxes, raccoons, mallard ducks, a bevy of birds and other wildlife, “I almost feel like I’m Alice in Wonderland,” she says jokingly.

The pool’s deep blue tones “change colors throughout the day like a mood ring,” Johnson says. “I wanted something tranquil in feel and soothing to the eye,” not the bright blue water hues associated with many Olympic-sized pools or country-club settings, she explains. She also preferred rectangular over kidney shape and without the bells and whistles of rocks and waterfalls that would detract from the beauty of the natural setting.

BLUE WATERS | The coating of the pool produces deep blue tones that appear to change colors throughout the day like a mood ring, Johnson says. “I wanted something tranquil in feel and soothing to the eye, not the bright blue” associated with many Olympic-sized pools or country-club settings, she says.

Furniture layouts define various activity zones, and accents are cheerful, fun and inviting. “For Kristina, color evokes joy and happiness,” Donleavy says. Consequently, there is a cohesive flow from indoors to outdoors. You will find all the indoor comforts outdoors: signature monogrammed towels; blue and white ceramics; pillows in leopard, ikat or ginger jar prints —all in vibrant shades of blue, lime, orange and hints of pink. Says Donleavy: “Kristina has remarked the only thing missing inside, that differs from the outside, is the pool!”

LILLY | Lilly, one of two “fur babies” in the house, honors her namesake: iconic fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer, known for her bright, colorful prints and monogrammed accents, just like the homeowner herself.

In her hospitality, Johnson gives much thought to her guests, so the outdoor space is a “living” room, Donleavy says. “As I planned the furnishings, she wanted multiple layers in the spaces,” whether lounging by the pool, dining or walking among the vegetable and flower gardens. An outdoor kitchen provides ample space for hosting family and friends, larger kick-off parties for charitable events and even a lobster race on the Fourth of July. “There is always music playing, inside and out, that makes you want to break out in a little dance,” Donleavy adds. And if you must, there’s also an outdoor television at the pool house to keep an eye on the game.

OUTDOOR KITCHEN | Beyond the pool house is an entertainment-ready outdoor kitchen. The daybed, situated in front of an outdoor fireplace (not shown), is the ultimate luxury— especially at night. “I curl up right in front of the fireplace,” Johnson says. With music playing, the lull from a nearby water fountain and a cozy blanket, “I’m in heaven.”

When seated at the large-scale sectional inside the pergola—a room without walls—Johnson can enjoy 360-degree views of the waterfront and surrounding landscape. Almost every morning when the weather allows, “I have my cup of tea and take in the beauty of the property,” Johnson says. She adds that she was grateful for the opportunity to work with Donleavy and her team. “We are sharing and creating great memories here,” Johnson says. “When you look up the definition of sanctuary on Wikipedia, this is it!”