A Family That Uses Their Home as an Art Gallery
Tour a turnkey house that’s anything but cookie cutter.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:46 AM
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A new build may seem like a good idea in theory—modern amenities, no plumbing or structural issues (hopefully), and an overall clean space. However, what’s often missing from these turnkey houses is the character you get with an older home, and that means homeowners run the risk of moving into a place that feels sterile and impersonal.
That’s not the case at all for this Rumson, New Jersey home. The 6,000-square-foot residence has five bedrooms, six and a half bathrooms, and tons of windows that let light stream through and make the spacious home feel even bigger. And while it may be a new build, graphic wallpaper and a pretty impressive art collection make this house feel anything but cookie cutter.
“The homeowners were looking for a fun home that catered to all of the family members, big and small,” says Susana Simonpietri, creative director at Chango & Co, the design firm responsible for the renovation. “They owned some really special pieces of art, so we aimed to stay as neutral as possible with the main rooms of the home, creating a gallery-like vibe that allowed the art to shine.”
The homeowners in question, a young family who recently relocated from Brooklyn, were looking to blend their city background and vibrant personality with the functionality and comfort of a suburban family home. To accomplish this, Chango & Co first tweaked the layout a bit to accommodate necessities like more storage (via built-ins) and kid-friendly spaces (via a new playroom and custom bunk beds).
“In the case of this home, we had a very modern and design-educated client moving into a suburban home which needed some real edge infused into it. Our goal was to make the home feel lighter and less traditional,” explains Simonpietri.
She looked globally: at the crisp white interiors peppered with pops of color exhibited by contemporary London homes, and at the modern-meets-traditional lighting fixtures reminiscent of Tokyo. And while the “adult” spaces are definitely more neutral, they went all out for the children’s areas in terms of playful decor and bold hues.
“The client’s art collection was our catalyst to design a home that felt gallery-like. We relied on the art to provide much of the color while keeping the main areas of the home in neutrals,” says Simonpietri, who incorporated new pieces from galleries in London and Paris to build out the family’s already-impressive collection.
In addition to the art, the other two standout elements of the home have to be the funky architectural light fixtures and the wallpaper.
In terms of lighting, Simonpietri felt it was particularly necessary to combat the more traditional layout of the home. With statement light fixtures in pretty much every room, from a contemporary brass piece hanging over the billiards table in the library to an industrial-looking fixture sitting over the dining room table, we’d say this goal was pretty much accomplished.
Regarding the wallpaper, particularly the brightly-colored ones on full display in the kids’ areas, it’s actually somewhat of a signature in Chango & Co’s projects (remember this stunning home in Westchester, New York?).
“We love to use wallpaper! I tend to think that when you paper one wall in a room, the wallpaper looks ten times as intense than if used on all the walls in the room. I know that sounds kind of backwards, but I think the eye reacts more on what it can compare. For example, a white wall next to a highly patterned and colorful wallpaper will only make the paper feel more intense,” explains Simonpietri of her wallpaper philosophy. “So because of this, we aren’t afraid of color and bold patterns.”
This is exemplified perfectly in the diagonally-striped yellow wallpaper of the playroom, where the design is offset by a plain white wainscot, and in the bunk room. There, the fun orange fox-printed wallpaper sits next to plain white shiplap—and that room holds a particularly special meaning for Simonpietri: “The wallpaper of the bunk room has been one of my favorites for some time! We’ve tried to use it in so many homes, and finally got the chance to.”
Between the wallpaper, the art collection, and the light fixtures, this home is proof that neutral and modern doesn’t have to mean cookie cutter—it’s simply a question of finding the elements that mean the most to you, and emphasizing them wherever possible.
Photography by Raquel Langworthy.
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