From the December 2022/January 2023 Issue  

Designed to work

Writer Ren Miller  |  Photographer Wing Wong  |  Designer Karla Trincanello, NJCID, Allied ASID  |  Location Florham Park, NJ

A Florham Park home accommodates family, friends and even the occasional staff meeting

Karla Trincanello designed a frieze to make the foyer feel less cavernous and then softened the space with upholstered benches, an area carpet, stair runner and curvy golden console.

The size (large) was perfect. The design (plain and undisting­uished) was not. That was the task designer Karla Trincanell­o faced when her client, with whom she had worked on four previous occasions, asked her to give his new home in Florham Park purpose and character.

The library, designed to accommodate the homeowner when he works from home, introduces blue accents to complement his preferred palette of gray.

The purpose — and the reason her client, a business owner and single father, moved in the first place — was to create a stylish, comfortable home where he could raise his daughter and also have space for his staff to work outside of the office from time to time. His move to the new home — right before the pandemic — proved fortunate when meeting in public became a challenge. At first he and his staff worked from their own homes. Then as restrictions eased but there were still concerns about returning to the office, they were able to work together at his home, socially distanced, thanks to abundant seating and tables throughout the main level.

The homeowner, who has his own business, can gather his staff at his home thanks to abundant seating and work spaces. In the family room, an upholstered put-your-feet-up ottoman works well for relaxing and entertaining as well as for work.

Also in the family room, an oval table with banquette and chairs is the perfect spot for the owner’s daughter to play games, for guests to set a beverage or for staff members who need additional space to work.

The new home’s character, meanwhile, began with a base of the client’s preferred gray. “That was a challenge,” says Trincanello, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Interior Decisions Inc. in Florham Park. “Gray works best if it is contrasted with color.” So throughout the home she layered in art and accent fabrics that are colorful and graphically patterned in shades of blue with an occasional warmer tone to make the spaces stand out.

The character also reflected a change in style for the homeowner. He preferred traditional design in his previous homes, but this time he wanted a well-coordinated mixture of styles — “transitional design, relaxed without the fuss,” Trincanello explains. Simple lines and contemporary art provide an updated feel while performance fabrics take into account a young child and occasional use as an alternate workspace.

The transformation is first seen upon entering the two-story foyer, which Trincanello found “impressive but not inviting.” She designed a decorative frieze that was installed midway between the floor and ceiling to make the space feel less tall. She also added sconces and a round and cone-shaped chandelier scaled to the large space for layered lighting. An area carpet at the door and benches on each side provide welcoming warmth, she notes, and a large golden metalwork console adds softness and curves in the linear foyer.

Space originally set aside as a living room was used instead as a library, where the homeowner works on the days he doesn’t go into the office. Its location just steps from the front door is convenient, but the marble floor and high ceiling of the foyer acted as a conduit for noise when he spoke on the phone or worked with other staff members in the library. Trincanello solved the problem by padding and insulating the library walls and double lining the draperies to absorb sound. Blue chairs and hints of blue in the area rug and artwork punctuate the gray background.

The family room, located nearby, is designed for relaxing and enter­taining but also doubles as a work area. It’s furnished with a generously sized sofa, four swivel chairs and a large ottoman where guests can rest their legs or sit when there’s a crowd. A fireplace and television provide diversions, as does an oval game table where the owner’s daughter can play games, guests can rest beverages or his staff members can work if other spaces are already claimed. The banquette and chairs around the game table are covered in the same blue shade as the counter stools in the adjacent kitchen.

The designer chose a distinctive backsplash to add character to the kitchen and had wall outlets moved to under the upper cabinetry apron so the tile design isn’t interrupted. The blue upholstery on the counter stools is the same as in the dining room so the chairs can be moved back and forth easily wherever needed.

The kitchen cabinetry was in place before Trincanello joined the project, but she added the lighting, counter stools, countertops and a striking tile backsplash, among other elements in the room. So as not to interfere with the pattern of the backsplash, Trincanello first had electrical outlets relocated to under the upper cabinet apron. Outlets on the backsplash are “a pet peeve of mine when something as simple [as relocating them] can affect the end result in such a positive way,” she notes.

A golden branch-like chandelier with long crystal drops and a custom table anchor the dining room. An octagonal mirror brightens the room by reflecting sunlight from the window on the opposite wall.

In the dining room, a contemporary chandelier with a golden branch-like frame and long crystal drops complements a custom table surrounded by comfortable chairs, some of which are covered in the same material as the kitchen counter stools and some in a coordinating fabric so they can all be moved back and forth for extra seating. A server with starburst-design doors holds lamps featuring a crystal body with an elegant twist.

The primary suite — specifically two small closets in the primary suite — almost kept Trincanello’s client from purchasing this house. But the designer proposed creating a larger closet by relocating the entrance to the closet and bathroom area from the bedroom. With that idea in mind, the purchase went through. Because the owner requested a spacious feel in the bedroom, Trincanello limited the amount of furniture and selected a backless bench and upholstered table with acrylic legs at the foot of the bed to keep the space visually light.

The homeowner wanted a spacious feel in the primary bedroom. Trincanello met the request while also maximizing function by adding a backless bench and upholstered table with clear acrylic legs at the foot of the bed. The cozy bed on the floor by the fireplace is for the owner’s black lab.

In the primary bathroom, Trincanello replaced a plain floor tile with a square-within-a-square patterned tile to anchor the space in the mostly monochromatic room. “The vanity mirrors were customized with beveled frames as large as each vanity, and they incorporate two sconces above each sink, creating great grooming lighting,” Trincanello says. Charcoal gray wall covering and the same floor tile continue into the adjacent dressing room, where large mirrors, table lamps and a comfortable stool provide a convenient place to get ready for the day or evening.

Large mirrors and layered lighting in the dressing room make getting ready in the morning a breeze.

The primary bathroom was drowning in white until the designer replaced the solid floor tile with a square-within-a-square pattern and added charcoal gray wall covering. The mirrors above the vanities are detailed with beveled frames and sconces.

With the design completed, the owner and his daughter now have the home that not only suits their needs but also does it in style.