A Contemporary Navesink Riverside Craftsman-Style Home


Contemporary Gray Family Room Fireplace

The sunken family room, where the homeowners spend most of their time, contains 12-foot-high ceilings. To allow a clear view to the river when seated, designer Kati Curtis made sure the contemporary sofas from Cisco Brothers and a cream chair and ottoman from McGuire were no higher than the bottoms of the windows.

Contemporary Gray Family Room

A patterned Donegal wool carpet from Stark grounds the family room and recalls the Arts and Crafts era of a century ago that inspired the original architecture of the house. The natural variation in the wood of the Clubcu walnut coffee table hides spills, while its organic shape allows easy access from any angle.

Contemporary Gray Family Room Fireplace

The sunken family room, where the homeowners spend most of their time, contains 12-foot-high ceilings. To allow a clear view to the river when seated, designer Kati Curtis made sure the contemporary sofas from Cisco Brothers and a cream chair and ottoman from McGuire were no higher than the bottoms of the windows.

Contemporary Cream Sunroom

In the bay-windowed sunroom off the family room, a demilune sofa, a pair of rattan chairs and a modern coffee table are all from McGuire. An onyx-based lamp from Arteriors, and a white metal sconce and trio of pendants from The Urban Electric Co. contribute to the casual vibe.

Contemporary White Entry Staircase

The entry's stair balusters and moldings were treated to a sweeping whitewash.

Contemporary Cream Kitchen

Only the Viking stove and Sub-Zero refrigerator were retained from the formerly dark-paneled kitchen. New all-white cabinetry—designed by Curtis and Canyon Creek Cabinet Company—along with two wenge-wood islands topped with white Caesarstone brighten the functional space. The sparkling backsplash is by New Ravenna Mosaics.

Contemporary Sage Dining Room

Thibaut’s bird-patterned wallpaper helps the long, narrow formal dining room become more intimate. The splayed-leg table and chairs were designed by Curtis for The New Traditionalists. The chair backs are upholstered in an ikat fabric from Kravet and the striking chandelier, with an oil-rubbed bronze finish, is by Jonathan Browning Studios.

Contemporary Sage Dining Room Vignette

The Drexel Heritage hutch in the formal dining room was refurbished to give it more of an antique feel; the pale yellow armchairs are from Cisco Brothers and the wall sconces are from Holly Hunt. Another patterned Donegal rug from Stark runs underfoot.

Contemporary Pale Green Living Room

A custom sofa with a carved-wood frame, one of two by Kati Curtis Design for The New Traditionalists, anchors the more formal living room, which is used for entertaining. Woven shades on the windows let the river views shine through. The elegant marble-and-bronze oval side table is by Global Views.

Contemporary Pale Green Living Room Entry

Osborne & Little’s wallpaper in a subtle pattern adds quiet interest in the formal living room, while its pale hues reflect the natural light streaming in from the windows. In the husband’s office, built-in bookshelves can be seen just past the entry foyer.

Contemporary Wood Paneled Boathouse

The spectacular wooden boathouse on the river, primarily used as guest accommodations and for parties, was left completely intact. A graphic blue- and-white striped rug packs a visual punch beneath a coffee table, both from Restoration Hardware. The woven-wicker chairs are from Palecek, and the barstools are from Straight from the Crate.

Contemporary Blue Master Bedroom

In the master bedroom, the warm blue Benjamin Moore paint on the walls sets a serene tone and echoes the river views. The bed frame is from Restoration Hardware and the chaise is from Cisco Brothers. Matching side tables from Atelier Delalain hold a pair of lamps from Arteriors.

Contemporary Master Bath Clawfoot Tub

A classic clawfoot soaking tub from Kallista anchors the master bathroom and sits under a window in order to highlight the incredible scenery outside. Calacatta Borghini tiles from Ann Sacks cover the room, and the fixtures are from Rocky Mountain Hardware.

When a young family decided to move out of New York City and into a home on New Jersey’s Navesink River, they wanted to renovate the house in a way that would respect its original Arts and Crafts-style architecture while also transforming the dark interiors into a light and airy contemporary space. Enter designer Kati Curtis, who was called upon to do just that—and she pulled it off without moving a single wall.

Because the owners—he’s in finance and she’s a stay-at-home mom to their two young children—were satisfied with the home’s overall layout, they wanted the original architecture to remain intact. However, when it came to the dated kitchen and five bathrooms, they knew they had a gut renovation on their hands: The kitchen received new clean-lined white cabinetry to replace the dark wood, as well as two new Caesarstone-topped islands; a clawfoot soaking tub was added to the master bath in front of the window to take in river views.

From the outset, the designer had to work with spatial and proportion issues. As was common in construction a couple of decades ago, the house boasted plenty of architectural bells and whistles, such as dormers and oddly formed spaces, including two octagonal-shaped rooms—one downstairs and one upstairs. “Typically, Craftsman-style homes have 9-foot-high ceilings,” she adds. “This house had very high ceilings, so we needed to bring things down to a more human scale without making any architectural changes whatsoever.” The house was steeped in deep earth tones, so light and bright became the watchwords. “The woodwork was beautiful, but it was stained very dark,” Curtis recalls. Everything from the wall panels and stair balusters to moldings and beadboard ceilings was treated to a sweeping whitewash. “The dark wood actually emphasized the home’s lofty proportions,” Curtis says. “Painting all the woodwork white helped combat this effect and offset the scale.”

The newly whitewashed woodwork and the consistent use of pale grays, taupes and other neutral colors throughout the house went a long way toward establishing a sense of unity and organization. Because her clients were “shy about bright color,” says Curtis, upholstered pieces were covered in pale neutral fabrics. The designer also introduced muted tones of red, green and blue into accent pieces—mere hints of color that nonetheless pop against the understated backdrop.

In the formal dining room, Curtis made clever use of Thibaut wallpaper with an overall bird pattern—reminiscent of the lush wallcoverings of the Arts and Crafts era—to also help achieve architectural aims. “The room is long and narrow with a vaulted ceiling,” Curtis says. “The luxurious patterning of the wallpaper counteracts a ‘tunnel effect’ and distracts from the harsh geometric lines of the ceiling.”

The presence of two young children required that nearly everything be easy to clean. Seating in the family living areas, for instance, is covered in outdoor fabric, and in the dining room, the children can color on the stone-topped table without ruining it. The coffee table in the family room, a free-form wood slab with natural variation, was chosen for its durability and spill-resistant material, as well as for its beauty. Patterned Donegal wool rugs—like those popular in the early 20th century—can also be found throughout the home and are “beautiful yet practical, as far as hiding stains and dirt,” says Curtis, who also brought in beanbag chairs and a vibrant patchwork carpet from Flor for the attic playroom. “It’s a fun space where we could go crazy.”

Now, the home is classic, elegant and serene, while also being supremely suited for family living. Above all, it is flooded with light—an uplifting testament to the magnificent power of pale.