From the June/July 2024 Issue  

Redesigned dining room features table made by homeowner

Writer Ren Miller  |  Photographer Toni Deis  |  Designer Mimi & Hill  |  Location Westfield, NJ

Mimi & Hill design firm helps a stone fabricator hit it out of the park with his anniversary gift to his wife

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Mimi & Hill provided plenty of storage by placing two sideboards side by side lengthwise. An ombré wallcovering behind the sideboards and an architectural-patterned wallcovering on the ceiling ramp up the visual interest without distracting from the table.

The traditional gift for a 20th wedding anniversary is china, but Peter Brooks took a different path. The owner of Peter Brooks Stone Works Inc. in Wood-Ridge gifted his wife, Jessica, a new dining room featuring a standout marble table that he fabricated himself.

The Brooks family moved into their Westfield home in 2017 when it was brand new, and the most-used rooms took priority when it came to design. However, they had always wanted to upgrade the dining room because it’s the first room seen upon entering the foyer. “We were both excited to do the dining room because it finally finished the house,” Peter Brooks says.

A custom Grand Antique marble table that seats 12 is the centerpiece of Peter and Jessica Brooks’ redesigned dining room.

That’s when he got the idea to ask Hillary Kaplan and Miriam Silver Verga, friends of the couple and owners of the Mimi & Hill design firm in Westfield, to create a dining room where he, his wife and their children could enjoy special meals and host friends and extended family in glamorous style.

Brooks’ main request was that Mimi & Hill design a dining table using Grand Antique marble, a polished material with a primarily black base and organic white veins throughout. The couple both love this type of marble, which comes from France and which they acquired through Dente Trading in Cedar Grove. “It makes a bold statement,” Brooks says, “and my wife likes things to stand out. She had her heart set on this.”

The tabletop rests on four pedestals (two square and two rectangular) fabricated of the same marble.

Brooks knew Mimi & Hill was up to the task of designing the table — as well as the entire room — because they have collaborated on many projects through the years. The designers drew plans for a table that measures 10 by 5 feet. The top is hollow, Brooks notes, though it’s backfilled with some wood for support, and the base comprises two square and two rectangular pedestals that are hollow pieces assembled together. The table weighs an estimated 1,000-1,200 pounds, Brooks adds.

To make the gift even more personal, Brooks fabricated the table himself, everything from programming Mimi&Hill’s design to cutting the marble using a piece of equipment he had recently acquired. Marble can stain, of course, but the table is treated with a strong sealer. And as Brooks notes, “We’re at a point where we want to enjoy our lives so we’re not so worried about it.”

The table was the starting point for the redesign of the entire room, says Meggie Rackenberg of Mimi & Hill. “[The original dining room] was not speaking to the glamour Jess and Peter had in the rest of their home,” Rackenberg says. To extend that glamour into the dining room, the designers, in addition to designing the table, framed the entrance from the foyer with a metal-framed glass door and chose two special wallcoverings: metallic ombré on an accent wall and a pattern called “Grey Pendulum” on the ceiling. The room already had one starburst chandelier, and the designers added a matching one and centered them over the new table.

A bar cart on the far wall keeps spirits at the ready.

The designers also were mindful of keeping the room comfortable and livable, Rackenberg says. They recommended comfortable upholstered dining chairs covered in performance fabric to protect against spills, and they placed two sideboards with an aged brass finish side by side lengthwise to create plenty of storage as well as the illusion of a long piece of furniture without having to source a custom piece.

An off-center window high on the wall was a challenge. “I didn’t understand the point of it,” Rackenberg says. The designers drew attention away from the window by placing a large piece of art on the console beside it and a grouping of interesting vases below it.

Metal-framed glass doors create an elegant passageway between the foyer and dining room. Avant garde sconces (one shown) are cast in brass with a convex glass shield and brass wire “ponytail.” The designers selected a new console, vases and art from the Mimi & Hill Shop to complement the dining room furnishings.

Now the room is an elegant place for dining and also an attractive spot for Zoom meetings, Rackenberg says. In fact, soon after the room was completed, the owners hosted a “fantastic dinner celebrating the room with Miriam and Hillary and their husbands,” Rackenberg adds.

“It has certainly elevated our special occasions,” Brooks says. “Mimi & Hill hit it out of the park.”