A breakfast room cries out to be reborn, and three designers offer their visions. NJ HOME readers will decide: which one works best?
This time you needn’t request an absentee ballot or vote by mail. Vote for your favorite design using the form at the end of this article.
A forty-something couple just moved to the suburbs from New York City and were told that their two grade-school children would spend the fall learning virtually. So they knew they’d need more out of their 14-foot-by-10-foot breakfast room. His job called him back to the office three days a week, but she continues to work full time from home, taking Zoom calls with the kids and a playful puppy always nearby. To help them, we asked three New Jersey designers, each a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, to conceptualize a space adjacent to the family’s contemporary kitchen that fulfills all their parenting, WFH and just plain living needs. The results are below.
Now we’re asking you, our readers, to vote for the proposal you think best suits our hard-working and happy couple. So read on—and then cast your vote!
1. That Family Feeling
Karla Trincanello, Interior decisions, Florham Park
Design analysis. Having just completed a similar project, Trincanello knew exactly what this family needed: a place to sit and watch TV or dine in when they weren’t using the kitchen island. It required a warm and inviting feeling, as the room also features a doorway leading to the driveway.
“The room welcomes you to feel like you are home now, as the colors are soft, warm and interesting with a soft, muted green geometric pattern wall covering,” she says.
The designer chose a cozy sectional for seating with a multifunctional cocktail table by Connubia – with an easy adjustment, it converts into a full-sized table when additional dining space is required. A small shelving unit sits between the sectional and the kitchen, serving as a counter and storage for cookbooks, platters or trays. To cover the family’s home office needs, Trincanello claimed a corner for work purposes and filled it with a desk and a cozy swivel chair, making it easy to turn away from the laptop and view the TV or the kids.
Opposite the work and main seating area is a narrow console table with two small ottomans beneath a wall-mounted flat-screen. A shelving unit with storage for keys and mail is in place near the entry door.
“And all the fabrics are stain-resistant,” adds Trincanello. “Indoor/outdoor performance fabrics are easy to clean, as is the area carpet for an active family with a dog.”
Trincanello says her proposed design is not only useful but also promotes everything important to the family. “Happiness,” she says, “is to be in your own comfortable space to work, relax and share meals with those you love, especially in difficult times.”
2. City Style In The ’Burbs
Ashley Berdan, Ashley Berdan Design, Wayne
Design analysis. Knowing that our couple just escaped the hustle and bustle of the city, Berdan created a nook that’s both family-friendly and reminiscent of their urban lifestyle. To keep things fresh and fun, the designer chose a sage green shade for the ceiling and a modern, geometric design block in mustard yellow for one of the walls. In the corner to the left of that element is the office space.
“For this new work-from-home era, a Scandinavian-style leaning desk and bookcase is a perfect spot to get some work done and display books and other accessories,” Berdan says.
Though there’s a focus on work in this space, there is plenty of room remaining for play. In the middle of the area is a mid-century dining table with clean lines and room for four Atticus side chairs. Beneath the setting and covering the hardwood is Ruggable’s Domo Sage Rug, a flooring option that’s machine washable and can withstand the toughest juice spills and puppy accidents. To catch up on news or stream the latest Netflix show, Berdan installed the Samsung Frame within the geometric design block. Its first function is a smart television, but switch it to art mode to display works like VanGogh’s “Starry Night” or family photos that “turn the room into an instant art gallery.”
“With multiple finish options for the frame and accessories like a display easel, this is the perfect accessory for this family’s dining nook,” she says. And speaking of art, Berdan chose a fiber wall piece by Lauren Williams, which “adds great texture to the wall with an extra splash of color.”
“In all, this room has functionality while still having a stylish edge that isn’t sacrificed for a family-friendly room,” says the designer.
3. Forever Young
Diane Durocher, Diane Durocher Interiors, Ramsey
Design analysis. A vision of various types of family time (including activities with Shelby the puppy) served as inspiration for Durocher and her design team. “We imagined this space as a multifunctional gathering place where the family can eat, work, watch TV and all be together,” she says. To open the 140-square-foot area, Durocher positioned the four-person dining table against the wall adjacent to the kitchen.
“Doing this,” she says, “allowed us to include a small sectional, a cocktail table and additional lighting”—all of which were placed in the corner to create a separate sitting nook. On the opposite wall, the team mounted a TV above a “fabulous” Bungalow 5 credenza, which provides ample storage for books, games and even work files. “It makes the most of this underutilized space,” the designer says.
Because of the room’s multiple uses and the multiple generations that would go in and out of it, Durocher paid extra attention to the fabrics and textures and opted for a “cheerful palette and a whimsical chinoiserie theme. In combination with the plush yet extremely durable navy chenille upholstery [of the Kravet sectional], it is perfect for a young family.”
Just as cozy and resilient are the Kravet rug and the wipeable faux leather cushions on the dining chairs. And thoughtfully selected accent pieces such as the Thibaut fabric of the Roman shades and the Ballard Designs artwork support the room’s motif.
“It’s fresh, fun and functional—traditional with a youthful twist,” Durocher says.