Let The Living Room Live!
Before, the little-used space in a Wyckoff home was “like everyone’s grandmother’s.” Now it’s ready for anything—even the book club.
In starting a new style chapter for their colonial home of 30 years, a Wyckoff couple sought to transform the living and dining rooms. Without abandoning their traditional vibe, these rooms would have to look and feel comfy even when it was the family’s turn to host the neighborhood book club.
“We first furnished the house when we moved in in 1992,” recalls homeowner Sue. “It was pretty much like everyone’s grandmother’s living room—very formal, but one of those living rooms no one uses except at Christmas.” Special occasions are great, of course, but a home design’s real triumph is when it makes ordinary days less ordinary.
To fit the needs of this family, including three kids in their early 20s, the living room had to evoke warmth and beckon conversation. But just like the plot of a novel, the remodel put conflict before Terri Fiori of the Wyckoff eponymous design firm—one that she overcame like a true style heroine. That conflict—or challenge—was achieving intimacy in the room’s extended rectangular shape. Fiori succeeded by floating a cozy cluster of seating: an assortment of ottomans, a sofa, love seat and swivel chairs, the latter in navy—one of Sue’s favorites. The designer shed the room’s olive, gold and burgundy palette—“really big’’ in the ’90s, she says—and drew inspiration from the Ralph Lauren window treatment. “It sets the tone for the entire room,” says Fiori, who tied in the Oushak rug from S&H Rugs and Chaddock furniture.
While not straying from the traditional and incorporating an heirloom server, the room introduces modern elements “so it doesn’t feel stale,” Fiori says. “We like to add unexpected pieces.” Acrylic tables and abstracts from Trowbridge Gallery are that surprise, while another showstopper is the eco-friendly leather ottoman table. Reflecting a new laid-back spirit, Fiori used performance fabrics.
To conquer another challenge, Fiori had Sue limit her black-and-white family photos—framed by her dad—to fit the remodel. “We kept only the generations we actually met instead of four generations back,” says Sue. Then Fiori arranged the gallery above a glass-topped table with a blue-and-white pattern and nailhead accents—a mix of texture and surprise.
The long-established minimal lighting suited neither family nor book club. But Fiori came to the rescue with an assortment including a striking black-iron-and-soft-brass finish.
The dining room, too, needed everyday relevance—and got just that when Sue agreed to trade 1800s heirloom chairs for rounded-back upholstered ones. No longer folksy with pale pink and greens, the room now features dark-green damask wallpaper from Zoffany atop a Benjamin Moore muslin chair rail. For contrast, the white dove chairs and the faux magnolias from Wostbrock Home atop the server play against the catalytic varnish table from Woodbridge Furniture.
Another Oushak-style rug from Creative Touch Rugs over hardwood provides a visual connection with the living room, as do must-have antiques: a dry sink and a jelly cupboard with a mirror on top. “My kids, who always want everything new, love it too,” Sue says.
“We were looking to lend warmth to the dining room, and it had to work well with the living room,” Fiori explains.
Yet, borrowing from the living room’s style story, Fiori introduced a bit of the unexpected with Visual Comfort’s chandelier—contemporary and traditional in gold and black. As a measure of success, Sue says, “We use it more because it’s comfortable.” Ditto for the living room, about which she says, “I love everything about it because it’s conversational.”
Completed in September, the living room has not yet experienced the book club test due to COVID-19, but it has crossed over to everyday use. It’s no longer just for holidays.
By Donna Rolando
Design by Terri Fiori
Photography by Mike Van Tassell