Where designers dwell

You let them inside your home-but did you ever want to see what your designers create when they have no fussy clients to please? Bergen Health & Life asked 5 local pros to reveal one room each in their homes-and to provide one take-home tip the rest of us can use when sprucing up our own abodes. Here's what they showed us:
Designerdwell Stern

You let them inside your home-but did you ever want to see what your designers create when they have no fussy clients to please? Bergen Health & Life asked 5 local pros to reveal one room each in their homes-and to provide one take-home tip the rest of us can use when sprucing up our own abodes. Here's what they showed us:

Meryl Stern, Haworth   

At first glance, Meryl Stern's Haworth dining room may appear a cozy, traditional haven-but all is not what it seems. What the picture does not reveal: "The space has a loft-like floor plan, so the dining room is open to an adjoining living room and atrium room," says Stern, owner of Meryl Stern Interiors in Haworth. That means lots of space and light to counterbalance the dining room's dark, rich wood.

And about that wood-what appears to be a paneled wall is actually the reverse side of Stern's kitchen cupboards. "Instead of putting up sheetrock, I just put paneling on the back of the cabinets themselves."

A modern twist comes from a custom-designed contemporary metal chandelier with linen shades from O'Lampia, which hangs above a classic cherry wood table and fruitwood chairs from Lucullus in New Orleans and a Ralph Lauren sisal rug. The room also offers convenience for Stern, who often hosts dinner parties and meetings. "The marble counter that the candelabras sit on is good for both serving and display, and the table can expand to fit 16 people," she says.

TIP: "When designing, don't be pigeonholed into a specific time period. Mixing old and new styles can make a space much more interesting."

Felicia Zwebner, Teaneck

"I wanted something timeless but fresh," says designer Felicia Zwebner of Art de Triomphe in Teaneck, describing her Teaneck great room, done in a nature-inspired palette. "I have four young children who certainly don't want to live in a museum, but I also try to stay away from trends."

Zwebner and her family can enjoy the space from two cream-colored English Knole sofas from Mason-Art in Manhattan, upholstered in Nancy Corzine Italian chenille. A brown tufted leather ottoman in the center functions as a coffee table and leg rest-"it's great when you want to kick back and relax, and if there's a stain I can just use a leather cleaner," says the designer.

Other soothing touches include a subtly striped Zoffany wallpaper, a fanciful woolen silk rug from Kravet and crewel pillows by Nancy Corzine.

TIP: "When it comes to a sofa or any large piece of furniture, avoid following trends. Wild prints may be in vogue today, but chances are they won't in a few years. Stay with the solids or even tone-on-tone."

Sharon L. Sherman, Wyckoff

A vivid, contemporary dining space to display cherished mementos-that was designer Sharon L. Sherman's vision for her Wyckoff dining room.

"I wanted to use warm, rich colors and several pieces that were given to us or that we purchased while traveling," says Sherman, owner of Thyme & Place Design in Wyckoff.

Georgian Brick paint from Benjamin Moore creates a colorful backdrop to the space, which is anchored by a sleek cherry dining table and chairs-wedding gifts to the designer. A thin metal chandelier and sconce from Visual Comfort provide modern illumination. Among the room's artwork is a collection of four paintings by Sherman's late mother. "I put those there as a homage to her."

TIP: "Hang items you like-just make sure there is some continuity to how you display them. The four paintings my mother made, grouped together on the right wall, all have frames of a similar color."

Blanka Jurecky, Englewood

"The power of color is the most important feature in any interior design," says designer Blanka Jurecky of Blanka Jurecky Interiors in Englewood.

Case in point: Her Englewood home's formal living room, where bold red splashes steal the show. The daring palette was inspired by the wallpaper left by the previous homeowners.

"Burgundy is my favorite color, so I decided to keep the paper and decorate the room around it," says Jurecky. She balanced the space with neutral touches, including a Taylor King sofa upholstered in white chenille from Kravet and a glass-top table from Emerson et Cie.

But the room's key hue repeats itself in many furnishings, such as Glant silk window treatments from Interior Art & Design in Hackensack and a wooden chair and bench from Taylor King, each upholstered in a different red silk. A burl wood sideboard from Scott Thomas and decorative area rug from Nourison in Saddle Brook offer extra luxury.

TIP: "Lighter colors can help brighten very dark rooms, while deeper, richer colors are good choices for rooms that allow a lot of light in."

Suzanne Curtis, Ho-Ho-Kus

Tired of her Ho-Ho-Kus Colonial's dated 1940s kitchen, designer Suzanne Curtis of Suzanne Curtis Interior Design in Ho-Ho-Kus embarked on an ambitious renovation.

The first step? Expand the space: Curtis knocked down part of a wall to create the quaint breakfast area, featuring a planked and distressed alder wood table from Fremarc Designs, wooden chairs upholstered in green chenille and animal-print cushions and a custom chandelier from 2nd Ave.

Lighting. The designer also converted a screened-in porch into a peaceful seating nook, complete with comfy chairs upholstered in damask-pattern chenille. "It's my husband's favorite spot to sit, read and look out onto our backyard pond," says Curtis.

For the kitchen proper, the aesthetic was "European country." And while it incorporates many new elements-such as diamond-patterned Amtico vinyl flooring and Cowtan & Tout valances with a fruit-and-plate design-Curtis also retained some original features.

Rather than replace the old kitchen's "utilitarian-looking" birch plywood cabinets, for instance, the designer updated them with molding, new hardware and a fresh faux finish.

TIP: "During a kitchen remodel, you don't necessarily have to start from scratch and have everything new. You can certainly work with things you already own, such as a piece of furniture that can be refurbished."

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