What happens when one spouse likes traditional design, and the other favors sleek and modern? In the case of this 1890s home, the couple hired designer Claire Staszak to sort it out. “I was drawn to Claire’s bold yet soft and subtle designs,” says the classic-leaning wife, who sensed that such duality would be a perfect fit to temper the differences between her husband—whose taste favors that of the contemporary luxury hotels he frequents on business trips—and herself. “We loved the idea of melding our styles so the house truly reflects us.”
Staszak was brought on after the abode was gutted by general contractor Zeke Bojic, who she worked with to rethink the space. An earlier renovation had transformed the standard brick two-flat into a single-family home, but the owners wanted to open up some of the smaller, odd spaces and improve the flow. Staszak and Bojic planned the layout so that the entire first floor is an entertainment space with a decked-out walk-in pantry (complete with a full coffee bar, dry bar and wine fridge), 10-person breakfast nook and a pocketed sliding glass door that opens to the backyard and creates an indoor-outdoor living space. In contrast, the team transformed the entire upstairs into what the wife refers to as their “personal sanctuary.”
“I tried to create architectural elements that would be interesting and feel modern but were a spin on traditional,” says Staszak, who mixed timeless design—see the entry’s formal Georgian-inspired checkered gray-and-white marble floor—with contemporary riffs. While still a classic element, the family room’s shallow coffered ceiling seems more modern as it’s installed on a surprising slant. And the repetition of exposed natural wood casings around the door frames are a decidedly fresh departure from white-painted case moldings, but the suggestion is still there. “I like to blend those different features so that you’re still able to reference structural details,” the designer explains. “That’s what makes a home feel grounded in time and place.”
Those architectural characteristics are what drove the interior design. “I used wood and stone to set the palette,” Staszak notes. “Walnut, light oak, white and black marble—those are the grounding colors.” It’s a mix of light and dark as well as warm and neutral. The family room features prominent walnut built-ins that flank a sleek, gray-and-white marble fireplace (and, as the wife notes, serve as the perfect hiding place for kids’ toys), whereas the living room is anchored by a more traditional, French-inspired black Nero Marquina marble fireplace. Wide-plank, light oak flooring unifies the entire residence—and is one element the couple agreed on from the beginning.
Repetitions build on the theme, as seen in the kitchen’s custom walnut-veneer dining table, modern black Belvedere quartzite waterfall island and traditional white cabinets. Upstairs in the primary bedroom, across from a white marble fireplace, an elegant black metal bed is dressed in snowy linens and set between fluted ebony nightstands. Taking cues from the husband’s preferences, the en suite bathroom features white marble along with a skylight, sauna and high-tech lighting system that easily transforms the mood of the space. “It’s a calming and peaceful place no matter what chaos the day brings,” the wife says.
Vases and other accessories adhere to the earthy palette, as do all of the woven rugs in the dwelling. Color is kept subtle: A pair of vintage rust-colored velvet armchairs amplifies the warm wood tones in the living room. Meanwhile, soft aquas in the primary bedroom and powder bath call back to a beautiful blue built-in cabinet in the dining area that houses the heirloom china the couple received from the wife’s grandmother for their wedding. The ability to easily access those dishes for gatherings rather than keeping them packed away “has been really special to me,” the wife muses. “The home feels very personal and reflective of who we are as a family.” And after many birthday celebrations at the kitchen table, Saturday mornings snuggling with the kids in bed and warm summer evenings spent in the outdoor living area, it’s safe to say that everyone agrees.
A Nero Marquina marble fireplace surround from Atelier Jouvence Custom Stoneworks and painting by Josh Young center this living room designed by Claire Staszak. The Fabricut sofa and Bungalow Classic coffee table sit atop an Oscar Isberian Rugs floor covering.