Originally based in Brooklyn, restauranteur Ed Schoenfeld, of RedFarm and Decoy fame, sought to find a home in an undiscovered neighborhood. His search landed him over the river—in Newark, New Jersey, to be precise—where Schoenfeld and wife Elisa would come to reside in a 21-room Georgian revival. With a revamp in dire need, the couple enlisted the help of interior designer Sasha Bikoff, who transformed the home into a vibrant escape. Sourcing inspiration from colorful cultural references of the likes of Diana Vreeland and Helena Rubenstein, Bikoff sought to create a complementary backdrop, which would in turn elevate the couple’s vast antique collection.
We got a peek inside the stunning space and even snagged a few tips on how to decorate with bold colors. Take a look!
What was your primary source of inspiration for the aesthetic your garnered for this project?
My inspiration for the house came from an oil painting of King Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud. Ed and Elisa are longtime art and antique collectors, and they wanted someone who could incorporate their extensive collection in a playful way in the house without losing the significance of the pieces they’d collected over the years.
How did you go about choosing the colors for each of the specific rooms? Was it all on a whim or did you have a specific vision in mind?
The home was previously owned by a couple who had painted the rooms in a series of bright colors, which really stood out to Ed and Elisa. I decided the colors could be richer in tone and set out working with Fine Paints of Europe to create high gloss, rich pigments in each room that would highlight the original egg-and-dart moldings. Referencing the painting of Louis XIV—he wore a purple cape with a black and white fur lining—I painted the hallway in a shade of African violet and the moldings in black, white, and gold.
Being an avid gardener, my vision for the first floor also entailed a bright bouquet of flowers: The open door frames allow you to see into the other rooms from any viewpoint in the home, so I wanted the bold color choices in each room: pink, purple, yellow, and green to work together the way they do in nature, which meant the shades had to be perfect.
Was there an overall color palette you stuck to or did you take on free decorative reign when it came to selecting each one?
My inspiration for each room all came from various cultural references—Nancy Lancaster’s salon for the yellow dinning room and Diana Vreeland and Helena Rubinstein for the vibrant red bathroom. Ed’s office is painted in a bright shade of jade as an homage to his love of China and his frequent travels there.
For the solarium, we painted the floors in a black and white checker design to give the feel of an upmarket country club and to tie in the black and white from the hallway.
Were there any challenges when it came to the design?
With such a vibrant first floor, it was a bit of a challenge to create a different feel for the master bedroom. I found inspiration from a French designer and chose a palette of grey and silver with an upholstered a sofa in a black and white striped silk— this created a feeling of calm and serenity within the vibrantly decorated home.
Which of the rooms is your favorite, and why?
I would say the second floor is my favorite. It houses Elisa’s office, which is painted in a shade of metallic lilac from Modern Masters, along with the master bedroom and the “opium den” which, features a star and moon ceiling leading the way, inspired by Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series.
The third floor houses multiple guest rooms, the first in an electric coral hue called Birds of Paradise and the rest in all shades of lime green, pink, and turquoise. The rooms are filled with antiques and my own over-dyed Chinese rugs throughout, to give a more eclectic and bohemian feel to the space.
What advice would you give to those who are intimidated when it comes to utilizing such bold hues within their homes?
New fabric and paint can go a long way. For me, it’s all about being confident in what you love and the colors that make you feel certain emotions. If bright blue makes you happy and you are always drawn to it then why not paint your room in bright blue? Pay less attention to the idea of becoming sick of a certain color, and focus on what makes you truly happy.
How did the wall colors dictate the way each of the rooms would come to be furnished?
Hardly any furniture needed to be bought since the Shoenfelds owned so much already. Therefore, in addition to all of the painting, I worked on reupholstering existing pieces, bringing in custom drapes and lampshades in fun fabrics, and over-dying all of the rugs in the house that were heirlooms from Elisa’s mother. By tying in fabrics, and decorative details selected to balance each vibrant room off of the next, I created a coherent flow around the art and antiques.