From the December 2021/January 2022 Issue  

Contemporary Calling

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Vic Wahby  |  Designer Sharon Draznin, Professional Member ASID, CID, NJCID  |  Location Short Hills, NJ

A Short Hills renovation takes on a fresh, modern attitude

  • In the grand foyer, the wall was opened up at the top landing to create a more open feel. The custom interwoven floor pattern is composed of stone and white Glassos®. “New railings and balusters were finished in high-gloss black paint to provide drama and elegant simplicity,” designer Sharon Draznin says. A hand-blown glass chandelier, she adds, “looms above as a floating sculpture.”


  • Before Foyer


A young family with three children had big plans for their expansive Short Hills property: a full-scale renovation that would transition the Colonial-style home — built in 1995 — to an updated contemporary more in line with their aesthetics.

Architect John James, principal of John James Architect, AIA, in Maplewood, drew up plans to meet the need for more wide-open spaces, removing walls, widening hallways and relocating some bathrooms. Newly sized windows and doors were installed in line with an exterior makeover that turned tradition on its heels: painting the red brick façade white, with contrasting black-framed windows and black shutters.

Certified interior designer Sharon Draznin of Short Hills-based Sharon Draznin Interiors joined the project early in the planning phase, providing everything from input on the layout to the interior design of each space in the 8,000-plus square-foot home. “The interior of the existing house was very traditional with a lot of dark rooms and wood,” says Draznin, a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers. Among the priorities was an open-plan kitchen and family room for owners who love to entertain. The wife also wanted the décor to be “fun, colorful and out-of-the-box.”

  • Bold pops of mustard yellow enliven the mostly gray-and-white scheme in the family room. Textures range from a tweed sectional to an embossed faux leather coffee table and a wool area rug. The original red brick fireplace was resurfaced with more contemporary gray-honed stone.


  • Bold pops of mustard yellow enliven the mostly gray-and-white scheme in the family room. Textures range from a tweed sectional to an embossed faux leather coffee table and a wool area rug.


  • Before Family Room



Step one was straightforward, Draznin says. “My design thought process for most projects is to keep the background of the home (walls, flooring, etc.) fairly simple and monochromatic.” Consequently, walls in the main living areas were painted “Decorator’s White” by Benjamin Moore to create a more open, airy feeling — a strategy that also laid the groundwork for bold pops of color and distinctive design details.

In the foyer, the drama unfolds in mostly black and white. Elsewhere, bright mustard yellow swivel chairs and accent pillows perk up a gray tweed sectional in the family room, while vivid cobalt blue energizes a butler’s pantry and adjacent dining room.

“I love to shop for unique home furnishings and accents,” says Draznin, who has a vast knowledge of resources culled from 40-plus years in the design field. “The more creative they were, the more my client loved them. She wanted furnishings in her home that no one had used before.”

One powder room — dubbed the “Hermès” bathroom — sports the brand’s signature orange hue on a custom vanity. Another half-bath —   primarily used by guests — is “dramatic and wow,” Draznin says, thanks to black crocodile vinyl wallpaper, a goldleaf tiled backsplash and a striking black-and-white marble mosaic floor. In her shopping travels all over New York and New Jersey, Draznin “found fabulous options,” she says, including a “great herringbone pattern marble floor” for the primary bathroom. The distinct bathrooms all share one common design element: space-enhancing wall-mounted vanities for a modern feel.

  • In the reconfigured kitchen, white lacquered cabinetry and quartz surfaces deliver the clients’ wish for a clean, minimalist aesthetic. Polished chrome pulls are used for the larger doors; upper cabinets are touch-latch. Waterfall edges on one side of the island and the perimeter countertop allow for an uninterrupted flow of quartz, Draznin says. She and Zak Yossry of Short Hills Design Studio co-designed the kitchen and butler’s pantry.


  • Retractable doors open to an innovative coffee bar designed to keep appliances with multiple cords from cluttering the countertops. A walk-in pantry is accessible through what appears to be a cabinet door at left.


  • The door to the left of the paneled refrigerator/freezer leads to a walk-in pantry.


  • Before Kitchen


The once dark, dated kitchen and step-down family room — formerly divided by a wall with a single door — were completely opened up and leveled to create one large space. After visiting numerous kitchen showrooms, “We knew we wanted an all-white modern kitchen,” says Draznin, who co-designed both the kitchen and butler’s pantry with Zak Yossry, an international associate member of the American Institute of Architects, allied member of ASID, member of the International Interior Design Association and principal interior designer and owner of Short Hills Design Studio in Millburn.

White lacquered cabinets and quartz countertops deliver the clients’ wish for a minimal, cleaned-lined aesthetic. Integrated into the design along one wall is a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer, double wall ovens, a coffee bar and a full-height walk-in pantry, the latter hidden behind what appears to be a cabinet door. Large slabs of quartz “create a book-match design above the cooktop and for the island with the least number of seams,” Draznin says.

  • The kitchen’s modern feel extends into the breakfast/dining area, which is furnished with a durable quartz tabletop and an oversized spherical chandelier that diffuses light through multiple bulbs. Chairs are covered in fashionable — and family-friendly — black-and-white vinyl fabric.


  • Before Breakfast Room


  • The cobalt blue high-gloss lacquer butler’s pantry “adds a spark of drama to entertaining,” Draznin says. A backsplash of beveled mirror tiles and polished stainless steel inset details in the cabinetry are knockout finishing touches.


  • Upholstered chairs in the high-fashion dining room pull their cues from the adjacent butler’s pantry and charcoal wallpapered accent wall. Draznin added a soffit with lighting for architectural appeal and covered the ceiling above it with shimmering metallic wallpaper.


The adjacent sun-filled breakfast area reinforces the kitchen’s cutting-edge feel with a quartz tabletop and a sizable spherical light fixture that defines the seating area with ambience and soft dining light. “I was cautious about durability and being family-friendly,” Draznin says, referring to the hardwearing quartz tabletop and easy-to-wipe-clean vinyl upholstered seating in black and white.

The second floor reflects the personalities and ages of each family member. “When I design children’s bedrooms, I like to add whimsy with a little sophistication … and not make them very juvenile,” Draznin says. Alphabet wallpaper with a Missoni-style black-and-white patterned carpet and lime green accents “were perfect” for one little boy’s bedroom, she says, coupled with a comfy, kid-proof, vinyl-tufted headboard.

  • Cozy textures and soothing shades of gray and lavender contribute to a sense of luxury and calm in the owners’ bedroom. “With a 9-foot ceiling, I decided to custom design the king bed with an upholstered wall for scale and proportion,” Draznin says.


  • Draznin modernized an existing ornate and traditional fireplace with white Thassos marble in a simple mitered angle design (at left).


  • Before Primary Bedroom


Designed with simplicity, elegance and function in mind, the couple’s bedroom feels like a tranquil haven where soft strokes of lavender make their way across faux-suede wallpaper and create a backdrop for a curvy velvet couch and silk accent pillows. “I love ethereal bedrooms and felt they needed a soft, pretty color,” Draznin says.

  • “The clients wanted a modern, simple white-and-gray bathroom” with a soaking tub, spacious shower and private toilet room, Draznin says. The tinted gray-mirrored vanity features integrated night lights between drawers. Three-dimensional white marble tile adds texture to the backsplash behind the vanity and tub.


  • As you enter the room—built with universal design principles in mind— the focal point becomes the floating bathtub centered under a newly installed window that’s fitted with a glass-beaded shade. Accent lighting in the soffit above amps up the overall ambience.


Like the rest of the home, the primary bathroom was completely redesigned into a more spacious setting that meets universal design standards. “The clients wanted a simple, modern, white-and-gray bathroom” with spa-like amenities, Draznin says. For a relaxing aromatherapy experience, the soaking bathtub is centered under a new window with a glass-beaded shade with light sparkling through its crystals. “I also wanted some interest in the ceiling, so I had a soffit built with accent lighting” to set the desired ambience and comfort level, she says.

Whimsical but sophisticated in black and white — with lime green accents — this toddler’s bedroom is designed to grow with the child. The graphic “Letters” wallpaper is from Olivia+Poppy. Note the Missoni-inspired chair and carpet.


Goldleaf wall tile functions as a backsplash in a guest powder room where crocodile-patterned vinyl wallpaper adds another layer of texture and drama. Modern wall-mounted vanities — here and elsewhere — have a space-enhancing quality, Draznin says. They also elevate the beauty of the floors — in this case, an eye-catching black- and-white marble geometric pattern. A Hermès-hued floating vanity in the family powder room is offset by fun black hardware and accents. Draznin repeated the chevron gray marble floor from the adjacent mudroom.

“Meeting the expectations of the client is gratifying,” Draznin says, adding that all are enjoying and thriving in their redesigned home. “This house was a unique opportunity. The wife is a young, fresh thinker. That excited me.” Moreover, it’s a comfortable home that lives for a young family.

  • The couple’s spacious walk-in closet — designed Zak Yossry — has a boutique-like feel with personalized storage and display options. Animal print carpet, a crystal chandelier, and large-scale sculptural pulls by Lisa Jarvis amp up the glam factor.




The existing red brick colonial (top) had ornate balcony balustrades and trim, which were simplified in the architectural rendition (below). All new windows were installed with black trim and shutters and the brick was painted white for a more modern feel.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The design of this Short Hills home earned several 2021 Design Excellence Awards from the American Society of Interior Designers, New Jersey chapter: a Silver Award in the Kitchen & Butler’s Pantry Category, presented to Sharon Draznin and Zak Yossry; a Gold Award in the Large Master Bathroom Category, presented to Draznin; and a Bronze Award in the Residential Space Over 5,000 Feet Category, presented to Draznin.