From the December 2019/January 2020 Issue  

How this Franklin Lakes Home Finds its Holiday Glow

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Vic Wahby  |  Designer Gary Capone, Joanna Policastro  |  Location Franklin Lakes, NJ  |  Holiday Decor Joanna Policastro

The garland adorning the fireplace in the family room matches the one on the stair rail. A Christmas tree in the living room, seen through the archway at left, is decorated with silver and gold ornaments.

Glimmering Greenery Adds a Holiday Glow to a Franklin Lakes Home

When Joanna Policastro decorates a home for the holidays, she takes her cues from the way her clients live throughout the year. “I get a feel for what the house is like and take that feeling into account for the holiday décor,” says Policastro, owner of Waldwick, New Jersey-based Seasonal Surroundings. In this case, homeowners Jennifer and Joseph Ruffino of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, surrounded themselves with refined and sophisticated furnishings.

An arrangement of pinecones and greenery takes center stage on the island but leaves plenty of room for the kids to enjoy cookies and milk.

The Ruffinos’ designer, Gary Capone of Le Mani Design LLC in West Caldwell, New Jersey, calls the decor “‘classic hip.’ We took this relatively traditional Colonial-style home and made the interiors more edgy and tailored.” Policastro adds that the home “is very architectural, very symmetrical. It’s perfect.”

“She understood the look I was going for,” Jennifer Ruffino says of Policastro. “My house is very traditional on the outside, but modern/ transitional on the inside. Gary Capone is incredible; he created my dream home with clean lines and great textures. I didn’t want to go overboard with the holiday décor and take away from the everyday décor of the house that he created.”

Golden bows and silver pinecones accessorize the garlands draped on the stair rail.

To complement the home’s non-holiday look, Policastro used classic greenery. In the foyer, for example, a garland of long-needle pine and cypress adorns the stair rail. “I love using greens,” she says. And since the homeowners preferred not to use bright colors—“I never liked loud and bold,” Ruffino says—Policastro “picked out colors that would work with the room: pewter and silver.” The homeowner was in agreement. “My home is mainly black, white and gray, so I knew the light golds and muted silvers would look great with the rest of the house.”

Policastro also incorporated strings of white fairy lights into the garland to cast a soft glow on dark wintery nights. This suited the homeowner’s taste. “Multicolor lights on the Christmas tree were never my thing,” she says. “I like simple white lights and muted ornaments.”

Stylized pine trees sit amid scattered greenery on the dining room table.

Policastro “carried that theme through the rest of the house.” In the family room, a similar garland—cheerful fairy lights and all—is draped across the fireplace mantel, its silver and pewter ornaments coordinating with those on the Christmas tree in the adjacent living room.

In the kitchen, Policastro used minimal, but impactful, clusters of greenery, pinecones and ornaments. An arrangement on the island is a year-round mainstay for the Ruffino family. “They switch it out for each season,” Policastro says. “There’s always something different.” What’s consistent, though, is the understated quality of each season’s arrangement. “Given the fact that this is such an impressive kitchen, I wanted to use something more low-key.”

A backlit wine rack sets a sophisticated mood in the dining room.

In fact, there’s a dignified restraint about all of this holiday décor that allows the interiors to shine. That’s nowhere more apparent than in the dining room, where a garland of greens adorns the table, taking its place alongside stylized trees that are part of the homeowners’ collection. The tablescape acts as a festive foil to the room’s showstopper: the sparkling, backlit wine closet with moody lighting that reflects off the table setting to create a seasonal shimmer.

The effect is both sophisticated and celebratory, much like the homeowners themselves, who say they enjoyed working with Policastro. Ruffino says, “Joanna is amazing at capturing our vision, and she makes decorating for the holidays super easy. It’s a fun process to add little things every year. Joanna comes up with great accent pieces to tweak the look so every year it looks a little different than the year before.”