From the October/November 2017 Issue  

Marvels at the Mansion: Happily Ever After

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Peter Rymwid  |  Location Morris Township, NJ
  • Decorated in shades of gold and silver gray, the master dressing room’s bridal theme pays homage to the Gilded Age with its carved French furnishings and romantic touches. Carved appliqués and other embellishments restore the ceiling’s original charm.

  • A soft gold damask decorative wall finish “is the perfect backdrop for furnishings, artwork and window treatments,” designer Diane Durocher says.

Inspired by the Gilded Age, this dressing room embodies the hopes and dreams of every bride.

Though inspired by the Gilded Age, this dressing room designed for the bride-to-be as she prepares for her big day could be the setting for today’s modern bride: a place filled with the same hopes and dreams every bride has for the perfect wedding day and for living happily ever after.

“The floor plan of this little ‘jewel box’ reflects the furnishings that we thought would be appropriate for a dressing room in a mansion built over 100 years ago,” says designer Diane Durocher, principal of Diane Durocher Interiors in Ramsey, New Jersey. “Closets were not the vogue in the early 1900s,” she adds, so it would have been expected to have a dresser, armoire, dressing table and decorative screen. The strategic placement of the screen “creates symmetry for the fireplace, which is not centered in the room,” says Durocher, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers and International Interior Design Association, a certified aging-in-place specialist and a state-certified interior designer.

Because the room is next to the master bedroom with its spectacular original architectural details, Durocher’s team renovated the space—in particular the ceiling—which was in terrible disrepair. Carved appliqués now enrich the surface along with a custom chandelier that breaths new life into the room, echoing its Edwardian charm. Many visitors thought the ceiling was original, the most wonderful compliment her team could receive, she says.

Not everything in the room required a major makeover. “The room did have some wonderful elements that were in fabulous condition,” Durocher says. The original fireplace marble surround and millwork, as well as the thick window and door casings, for instance, were simply enhanced or highlighted with a fresh satin paint finish. Walls, wrapped in a soft gold damask decorative paint, are “reminiscent of the bygone era,” she adds, creating the perfect backdrop for furnishings, artwork and window treatments.

A palette of gold and silver-gray, carved French furniture and bridal accessories complete the “Happily Ever After” dressing room theme.

The 2017 Mansion in May Designer Showhouse and Gardens breathed new life into Alnwick Hall-The Abbey in Morris Township, New Jersey. The 20,000-square-foot Abbey was built in the first years of the 20th century and was inspired by several medieval English castles. For the entire month of May, many of New Jersey’s top designers displayed their talents in 41 of the estate’s rooms and 17 landscaped spaces. Eager visitors toured the spaces, where decorative styles ranged from whimsical to elegant, from understated to elaborate. All proceeds benefitted the Women’s Association for Morristown Medical Center (