For nearly 20 years, Dr. Matteo and Adriana Rosselli’s Mediterranean-style home in Jupiter, Florida served as a handsome outpost for countless happy memories. But when their three children moved out and on to lives of their own, the couple looked around at the dark wood furniture, heavy draperies and faux-finished walls and wondered if it was time for a change. “The Tuscan look felt outdated,” Adriana admits. “We wanted something different, more modern. And I really dreamed of a bigger kitchen.”
Overwhelmed at the prospect of a total redo, they began looking at properties and land for sale. But nothing quite measured up to the 2002 house they’d built. So they reached out to designer Jennifer Ribek, who had worked on their condo in South Beach, to see if she could update the place and give them a residence that fit their needs. Taking note of the high ceilings and the landscaped garden, Ribek knew immediately she needed to open up and simplify the interiors. “They had this large home, but they were only using a part of it,” she says. “The kitchen was too small, the oversize furniture in the family room and dining room made it hard to move around and they never used the living room. I told them we had to start from scratch.” To their credit, the Rossellis embraced her vision—though Adriana worried removing interior walls would result in less storage, not more. But Ribek assured the couple they’d have more than enough when the dust settled.
The designer started with the floor plan, looking for ways to maximize the abode’s generous square footage while making the connections between rooms more logical. “As we started taking out walls and making openings into the different spaces, you could see the flow improve,” she says. Working with general contractor Kevin P. Carter, Ribek also squared off the residence’s arched doorways and ornate round columns—a move that gave the rooms an instant update.
Adriana loves to cook and entertain, but the original kitchen layout made it challenging for more than a few people to comfortably occupy it at one time. Ribek, who was a dedicated kitchen designer early in her career, removed a peninsula between the kitchen and the family room and opened up the wall separating the dining room from the kitchen so the three areas now flow together. Taking down the walls allowed for a large island with more than enough room for guests to gather. And extending the height of the cabinets ensures there’s a place for everything.
The team also created a generous opening from the kitchen to the once closed-off living room. There, Ribek replaced the ornate fireplace, flanked by heavy corbels, with a hearth trimmed in herringbone marble tile. She also tackled another item on Adriana’s wish list: giving her a dressing room. After considering other options, the designer reworked a little-used guest bedroom into an elegantly feminine space with a storage island, open shelves and mirrored closets.
With the revised floor plan in place, Ribek turned her attention to the furnishings and the palette. In place of the oversize pieces, she introduced clean-lined upholstered seating accented by light wood and stone tables, along with unexpected elements like a bubble chandelier in the dining area and a Lucite coffee table in the living area. The designer confesses she was afraid the simple-formed dining chairs she chose would be too much for her clients. “I tried to drill it into them that the new chairs were smaller and didn’t have arms, and were they OK with that?” she recalls. “It was such a change in scale, but they love them.”
From the beginning, Ribek imagined a luminous interior, which meant repainting faux-finished walls white and swapping the heavy window treatments with draperies and shades that let in plenty of light. Offsetting the white backgrounds with splashes of blue—seen on pieces like the foyer rug, the family room pillows and the dining area’s patterned draperies—connects the rooms and keeps them from looking too monochromatic. “In the living area, I started with a blue floral pillow fabric and designed everything around that,” Ribek explains, pointing to its blue rug, armchairs and drapery trim. The designer also transformed the heavy main bedroom into a light-filled sanctuary with understated patterns and textures featuring a beaded chandelier, velvet-upholstered bed and natural fiber rug.
In their updated environment, the couple says Ribek’s redesign has given them a new lease on life. “You get so used to one thing for so many years, but Jennifer made it work,” Adriana says. “It’s not difficult to keep clean and organized anymore. It’s changed how we live.”