With its unexpected palette, custom millwork and high-contrast mix of light oak floors and black steel windows, this urbane family residence in Westfield, New Jersey, looks decidedly unlike anything else in the neighborhood. Homeowners Todd and Nicole Carnucci wanted to when the time came to envision their dream home, and when an introduction to architect Michael Moritz led to designer Raychel Wade, they knew they were kicking things off with their dream team, too.
For this new build, which borders a nature preserve, Todd and Nicole sought to take advantage of the verdant woodland setting. In turn, Moritz began plans by situating the house to optimize a connection to the outdoors. “They wanted to feel like when they walk through the front door after a long day’s work, they’re at a resort,” shares Moritz. As a result, the most frequently used rooms—the family room, the kitchen, the breakfast area—are organized along the rear, where oversized windows and door systems open to the backyard, with no neighbors in sight. A series of interior glass walls carry that sense of expansiveness and privacy throughout the residence.
“We wanted the look of a shingle-style home, but with contemporary flair,” adds Nicole, which Moritz responded to with a streamlined spin on traditional millwork. Rather than scrollwork moldings, for example, a lighter-stepped profile brings clean lines to the crown and baseboards. These aren’t stock designs; the knives used to carve the boards were specially made. “You’re not going to find these moldings in a catalogue,” says the architect. Fresh takes on tradition are also seen in the more minimalist profile of the coffered ceiling in the dining room, and in the graceful curves of the spiral oak-and-steel stair off the entry. It’s continuous handrail, which floats three inches from the wall, “ light down to the floor below,” notes Moritz.
When it came to the interior design, Wade devised a neutral yet nuanced palette that defers to the home’s indoor-outdoor sightlines. , the family room, which reads as ecru and gray from a distance, reveals subtle layers of intrigue upon closer inspection—like the graphic yellow patterning on the daybed upholstery and the misty blue shagreen texture of the coffee table. “If we had gone with plain neutral pieces, the room wouldn’t have the same richness,” Wade explains. Even the kitchen’s all-white scheme—a must for Nicole—plays with a variations on texture, such as a cracked-tile backsplash, wooden refrigerator handles and chunky polished nickel hardware.
But where the primary gathering grounds lean quiet, Wade injected bolder pops of color and pattern to the auxiliary spaces. Case in point: the sandy pink marbled wallpaper in the formal dining room and the rich, midnight blue millwork in the study off the foyer. It’s an exercise that brings Wade back to her past life as a professional makeup artist. “There’s a much bigger palette in design, of course. But I think there’s an innate skill to seeing how warm and cool colors and different textures work together in seemingly strange, but beautiful ways,” she says.
Reflecting on the project, Wade believes the risks that she and Moritz took, buoyed by their adventurous clients, are ultimately what made the home successful. “I’ve found that many people fear that they’ll get bored of details that are too daring or too specific. I always stress that what you’ll actually grow tired of is something plain. There has to be an element of surprise.” This thoughtful, individualistic home—now the toast of the neighborhood—has that in spades.