Kids Put Luxury to the Test

A Holmdel home proves that elegance can be in sync with a young family’s everyday life.


There are lots of things parents put off when they have young children, but sophisticated home style doesn’t have to be one of them. That was the view of parents Nilam and Kal as they contemplated the design of their freshly built contemporary colonial in Holmdel.

“We did not want to compromise the décor of our house,” says Nilam, mother of two boys ages 3 and 5. She reasoned that children could be taught not to be tough on furniture, and it’s opened the door to their dream design.

“They really wanted to create a luxurious environment they could enjoy every single day,” says their designer, Yelena Gerts, owner of Holmdel’s House of Style & Design. “They wanted to feel like they were in a luxury hotel,” she says, but in a place that was “warm and inviting at the same time.”

The result is what Gerts likes to call “everyday luxury.” The design is contemporary with just a pinch of traditional; it’s elegant but still gets the job done on a family occasion, such as a pre-COVID birthday party for the couple’s younger son.

No cookie-cutter approach would do for this family. Nilam wanted her new home to stand out as unique in an elegant way. She found Gerts not only talented, but easy to work with on this vision. Much of what makes the home luxurious was created just for them through Gerts’ efforts.

Nilam’s favorite spot is the grand room, where a rustic brick fireplace was replaced with white quartz ascending some 20 feet to the coffered ceiling. “In the morning when the sun hits the fireplace, it just shimmers,” she says. “My whole mantel sparkles everywhere.” Sheer draperies maximize the light she treasures.

The starburst painting above the mantel is not only an eye-catcher; it also ties in with two similar patterns in the room (one of Gerts’ secrets to design harmony). Look also for the starburst in the crystal chandelier and the mirror wrapped with antique bronze (Hint: It’s over the marble console table on vintage-bronze legs.)

“Because the space was really big and spacious, we needed to make it cozier, so we added molding and painted contrasting colors—various shades of gray—to bring in some dimension,” Gerts says. The coffered ceilings presented yet another opportunity to contrast with grays.

There’s plenty of seating for when the gang’s all here, from the acrylic benches perched in front of the exotic wood entertainment center to the pale gray sofa trimmed with brass nailheads. The maroon in the pillows and accent chairs by a mirrored side table was inspired by the deep color of the lotus, one of Nilam’s favorite flowers. It provides a striking contrast to the room’s neutral palette, while the soft area rug introduces a subtle pattern. To warm up the space, Gerts deftly incorporated a mix of metals, such as polished gold with the marble coffee table.

Gerts describes the formal living room as “soft and luxurious. It has a lot of texture, and at the same time it’s very European.” The curved silver velvet sectional teams up with a glass-topped coffee table that lets the beauty of the hand-knotted, wool-and-silk rug show through. Another standout piece, the mirrored credenza, is topped with roses in the artwork above. The chandelier reflects the shimmer of the textured walls, and the velvet drapes with crystal finials have a jewelry effect, she says. Are you getting the vibe of a Parisian hotel lobby?

The formal dining room is also dressed up with velvet drapes, complete with handmade trim. The custom table in dark brown oak is just the right size for a family that loves to entertain. The crystal in the dual chandeliers is mirrored in the array of candle holders grouped together as a centerpiece. Again, Gerts warms up the room with touches of gold, as seen in the base of the acrylic sculptures atop the serving console with curved acrylic legs. Also curved are the dining chairs upholstered in a luxurious, light gray velvet. An abstract painting with a floating gold frame above the serving console delivers another touch of sparkle. Even the tray ceiling commands attention with its silver leaf wallpaper for “a wow factor from top to bottom in the room,” she says.

Was all this attention to detail worth the effort? When relatives gathered for Thanksgiving before COVID, they were “blown away” by the design, says Nilam, proving her point that elegant style has its place in a busy family’s daily life. No one, apparently, was too awed to enjoy the feast.

By Donna Rolando
Design by Yelena Gerts
Photography by Marco Ricca
Categories: Monmouth Health & Life