From the October/November 2018 Issue  

Inside Sports

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Jeffrey Edward Tyron  |  Designer Judy King Interiors  |  Architect DaCruz Segal Architecture  |  Location Princeton, NJ  |  Gym Consulting DeShayes Dream Courts

FAMILY ROOM | A sectional sofa in a neutral tone provides seating for a crowd without overwhelming the space.

A Princeton, NJ, home renovation improves form, function and free throws.

It was supposed to be a temporary situation. The Majeski family had a definite plan in mind regarding their living arrangements (and a gymnasium was not a part of that plan at first). “We were going to rebuild another house,” owner Barbara Majeski says. But when the family rented this circa-1965 home for the interim, they knew pretty quickly they wanted to stay. Within a week they realized the Princeton, New Jersey, house had great bones. “It was so well built,” she says. Still, “I felt like it needed a facelift.” Judy King, owner of Judy King Interiors LLC in Princeton, stepped in to assist the homeowners in transforming the home into the haven they sought.

The owners “wanted a very transitional look,” King says. “Nothing too busy.” While the décor might not be busy, the house itself would be. “I have three kids,” Majeski notes. “My parents and brothers live close by. I wanted this great, warm home to be the epicenter of family gatherings.”

FORMER PORCH | The family room was previously a screened-in porch. The recessed brick wall at right is the original exterior wall of the house. The family room and kitchen flow into each other, yet the four corners of the ceiling help to define each as a separate space.

To create that warmth, King began with a neutral background. “Barbara’s tastes are very simple. She doesn’t like a lot of color. She likes things to be very soothing.” In the family room, King used soft tones, incorporating small hits of texture and pattern that enhance the space without distraction.

“The big sectional sofa is something you can plop down on and watch TV,” King says. And the homeowners don’t need to be overly concerned with wear and tear. “The fabrics are all chenille and Scotchguarded.” The sedate yet spectacular kitchen features the same durability. “Everything has a very sturdy seal to it, although it’s super beautiful and high-end.”

KITCHEN | The former family room was converted into a spacious kitchen. Da Cruz left the fireplace but added a new marble surround. The homeowner is pleased with the layout and functionality of the space. “I like knowing what I have and where it can go,” she says.

The kitchen is also practical and orderly, per Majeski’s wishes. “For me it was so much about function,” the owner explains. “If things don’t function, you can make it look as good as you want, but I would always be grumpy.” Fortunately, grumpiness was averted. With abundant storage, three ovens and ample counter space, “the kitchen is amazing. It was very thoughtfully organized.”

The entire residence is thoughtfully organized thanks to a user-friendly layout developed by Sara Segal and John DaCruz of DaCruz Segal Architecture, with offices in Princeton, New Jersey and Brookline, Massachusetts. The pre-renovation home was built to the standards of its time, with separate rooms that felt disconnected from each other. The homeowners wanted more open spaces, so walls were removed and doorways widened to create a more expansive look.

NOOK | The small former kitchen is now a cozy nook for doing homework or reading.

Because the original kitchen was very small, the architects created a new kitchen in the former family room and transformed the previous kitchen space into a “homework room.” A screened-in porch was converted to a new family room.

Though the revamped home is more open, DaCruz says, “we felt that we needed to maintain the integrity of the rooms.” Framed openings ensure a clear delineation between spaces. “In each room, the ceiling has four corners. All these spaces open up to each other, yet they’re all distinct from the ceiling perspective.”

Bold blue and orange are the colors of the Majeski “team.” The gym was created from a former bedroom suite. The consultant for the gym was DeShayes Dream Courts.

Perhaps, the most distinctive aspect of the home is the gymnasium, which was created from an unused first-floor bedroom suite. “It was a beautiful space, but we didn’t need that,” Majeski explains. What they did need, however, was a way for energetic kids to blow off steam.

“The previous winter, we had snow day after snow day,” she says. “Eventually the snow becomes ice and you can’t even play in it anymore. We were locked in the house sitting in front of the TV. I don’t think that’s healthy for an active family.”

Majeski asked the architects to gut the suite and build a gym so the kids would have a place to run around in even during the most inclement weather. “We didn’t know how serious they were,” DaCruz says. “A week later we asked if they were sure and they said ‘absolutely.’”

According to DaCruz, “the existing space lent itself to becoming a basketball court because it had a big gabled roof.” After removing the ceiling, “we ended up removing the floor; the previous bedroom suite used to be at the same level as the rest of the house. The existing floor of the gym is actually where the top of the crawl space used to be and that’s what allowed us to maximize the height to get our court to work. It was more about removing things than it was about adding.”

It was also fortuitous that the room is positioned so as not to interfere with the aesthetics of the house. “You can’t see it from the street,” DaCruz says. “It’s extremely discreet from the exterior. There isn’t a big addition that screams ‘gymnasium.’” Inside, though, it’s complete with ball storage, hoop and the family name emblazoned on the floor. Unsurprisingly, the space is popular with neighbors as well as the homeowners. Majeski says, “Now if there’s a snow day, all the kids come to my house and I love it.” DeShayes Dream Courts in Cherry Hill, NJ was consultant for the gym.

Majeski loves everything about the house, a fact she attributes to the professionals involved in the project. “I had the best design team,” she says. They created “an organized, high-functioning home.”