From the December 2021/January 2022 Issue  

Sentimental Journey

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Artistic Tile  |  Designer Barette Widell  |  Location Moorestown, NJ

A designer draws from her life experience to combine softness with edginess (and livestock!) at her Moorestown home

Barette Widell in her home office.

Barette Widell found her Burlington County home while searching for real estate online. “I told my husband, if we were ever going to move out of the city, this is where I would move,” she recalls. It was only when the couple visited the Moorestown, New Jersey, residence during an open house that they discovered the on-site “extras.” “We got there and realized there were alpacas.” That was a plus for Widell, a founder of Moorestown-based design firm Widell+Boschetti, and she was thrilled when the seller included the animals in the purchase price. “I’m such a huge animal lover. What a bonus for our kids to grow up with animals like that!”

While the outbuilding has a rustic appeal perfectly suited to the alpacas and goats that roam the yard, the home’s décor has a more sophisticated aesthetic drawn, in part, from an excursion to Paris. “We stayed at the Hôtel de Crillon,” Widell says. “That hotel impacted me beyond what I could have ever imagined. I feel like that shaped me into the designer that I am. When I found this house, I used that hotel as inspiration.”

Like the hotel, Widell’s home “has an eclectic design with a very soft palette.” Neutral hues and wood tones dominate the spaces and, when color does appear, it is understated. The reserved tones also call to mind Widell’s past as a professional dancer with the Pennsylvania Ballet (recently rechristened the Philadelphia Ballet). “I’ve noticed that a lot of my design reflects my ballet roots. That’s why I gravitate toward a very soft palette.”

“I think the light fixture is really fun,” Widell says about the chandelier in her office. “It’s a bit retro and adds to the edginess of the room. It has brass elements and, instead of being stark white, it’s off-white, so it also brings a softness.”

Widell expanded the design concept within the parameters of the muted palette by incorporating interesting silhouettes. “There’s a lot of play on geometry using different shapes and textures,” she explains. Those contours are on display in a powder room, which features a sleek cube of a vanity crafted from rainbow onyx. The antiqued brass mirror is multifaceted, drawing and reflecting light at numerous angles. A plaster pendant hanging above the sink “is funky and fun,” Widell says. “I like the odd shape of it. It brings an edginess that I love incorporating in my design.”

The archways were part of what drew Widell to this home: “I fell in love with them.” She designed the living room sofa, ottomans and coffee table. The side table is a favorite find. “The eclectic pop of the sculptured side table is fun and conversational.”

In her office, Widell transformed the fireplace wall into a focal point using white tile from Artistic Tile that is ornamented with raised, undulating lines of brass. “I really love the curves,” she says. “The tile has a texture to it, which I love as well, and the brass inlay is the cherry on top. It’s extremely unique. There’s nothing else like that tile out there right now.”

Widell makes another statement with tile in her private bathroom by including two separate tile designs. On the floor and the shelf wall, the honed marble tile features an assortment of geometric figures, including triangles, rectangles and half circles. “I love the shapes of that tile,” she says. “I love how the repeat is done.” The unusual process involves rotating tiles. “You have to turn it all clockwise to get a true repeat. That’s why the pattern is so interesting.” The avant-garde design of the tile is tempered by its gentle colors. “Even though it’s really edgy, it has a soft palette.”

Widell describes the plaster light fixture in a powder room as “funky and fun.” The wall covering mimics a tile pattern. She is pleased with the overall aesthetic of this space. “I call it my jewel box.”

The pattern changes in the shower, where the walls are marble with sea-like striations that are particularly meaningful to Widell. “I was raised in California,” she explains. “My dad was in the surf industry. I grew up in the ocean. When I take a shower, I feel like I’m in the ocean because of the waves in the tile.”

Widell and her husband have separate bathrooms. (“Mine’s smaller than his, but I got the bigger closet,” she says.) That meant Widell had free rein to outfit the space. “I played on the arches of the tile with the custom vanity I designed, which has arches and roundness.” The shower’s arched door repeats the arches in the doorways elsewhere in the home and those found in the floor tile.

Both style and sentiment have informed Widell’s choices for her spaces. “I want to showcase what I can do as a designer, and I’m willing to take risks. This is my forever home,” she says.

The property features an outbuilding that houses goats and alpacas. Two goats play in the yard. At left is Boontjie, which means “little bean” in Afrikaans (Widell’s grandmother was from South Africa); at right is the aptly named Cashmere. “Her coat feels like cashmere” Widell says. Momo (left) and her daughter, Bardot, are two of the alpacas on the property. Widell is considering creating textiles with the fur.

EDITOR’S NOTE Barette Widell’s experience finding this property was documented in March 2020 on HGTV’s “House Hunters,” with an episode titled “Designing Dreams in New Jersey.”