From the October/November 2017 Issue  

Marvels at the Mansion: L’Abbey en Rose

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Wing Wong  |  Designer Samuel Robert Signature Spaces, Sam Ciardi  |  Location Morris Township, NJ
  • The pale pink room is light and airy. An abundance of light sources ensures just the right amount of illumination at any given time.

  • A hip acrylic desk is accompanied by an ever-so-proper desk chair. Pink poufs in the corners bring coziness. The statue next to the drapery adds sophistication.

A light and airy bedroom mixes 20th-century extravagance and early 21st- century ease.

Designer Samuel Ciardi’s goal for this room was to blend the best of the past and present. “My vision,” the designer says, “was to create a luxurious bedroom appropriate for a house as grand as The Abbey. At the same time, I wanted the room to feel light and airy with a contemporary sensibility. I wanted to showcase how The Abbey could be considered relevant for modern living.”

Ciardi’s design is, indeed, a compromise between early 20th-century extravagance and early 21st-century ease. For instance, Edwardian homeowners enjoyed relaxing evenings in armchairs beside the fire. Ciardi, owner of Samuel Robert Signature Spaces in Millburn, New Jersey, took a modern approach by selecting armchairs with exaggerated wings. The four-poster bed—a staple in the boudoirs of the wealthy for centuries—is interpreted here for 2017. Ciardi chose a simplified, streamlined light-colored frame and posts designed to look like stylized tree branches. There is no draping fabric here, only precisely tucked-in bedding.

Modern acrylic material makes several appearances—the desk, the mirrors, the frame of a slipper chair. But so do more classic elements used in non-traditional ways: that acrylic slipper chair and the wing chairs in front of the fireplace feature timeless velvet fabric.

Ciardi used a “light and soothing color palette” to ensure the room would be fresh and cheerful. (That’s actually in keeping with the home’s history. In a reaction to the heavy, Victorian design of a previous generation, Edwardian homes featured lighter décor.) Against the pastel background, the designer included large pieces of furniture that make their presence known and reflect the gravitas of the residence. Ciardi also incorporated decorative elements wisely but sparingly. “The atmosphere was created with exquisite fabrics and furnishings,” he says. “Each and every piece had its place and function, making sure the room was not overfurnished nor overaccessorized.” The result is “a bedroom with an atmosphere of clean, crisp, modern elegance.”

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 (