When a Central New Jersey family of five wanted to update their four-bedroom abode for the first time while indulging the lady of the home’s love for the English countryside, they knew designer Jo Ann Alston would rise to the challenge. “The client required a fresh take on that style’s charm and subtle sophistication without any of its stuffiness,” says Alston, owner of J. Stephens Interiors in Mendham. But how does one defy time and modernize a space to look older?
For the living room, Alston went for a chic European country aesthetic with a pair of custom-sized gilded Friedman Brothers oval mirrors outlined in mahogany and a matching mahogany tea table by Kittinger with intricately carved corners and a raised edge for the homeowner’s morning spot of Earl Grey. Antique lamps by Carlos de la Puente in a glossy sage green topped with custom Blanche Field NYC lampshades (“They make the room,” boasts Alston) add color to the otherwise neutral space, mimicking the hue accentuated in the pleated chintz drapery. Alston also opted for a curvaceous, banquette- style Edward Ferrell sofa that she says adds an ultra-feminine silhouette to contrast with the straight-leg chairs and side tables. “The different shapes give you a lot to look at when you peek into the bay window, as with a vignette,” Alston says.
The designer also tackled the traditional breakfast room where Alston says she wanted to incorporate her client’s French-inspired aesthetic, which would meld well with the English updates made throughout the rest of the home—“The two European styles mix well and go hand in hand,” she explains. Fusing the family’s need for function with a desire for elegance, Alston alluded to the rest of the home’s design with aged-finish hunter green paint on the molding and window frames, Brunschwig & Fils patterned drapery, a straight- leg farmhouse table by Woodland, Grange cane-back chairs and a dramatic iron chandelier by Formations USA.
The homeowner has said “she truly cannot believe she lives here,” Alston reports. “There’s a belief in design that some rooms should be more formal for entertaining and others more relaxed for the casual everyday. In this house, they really have it all.”