Design by Linda Granert
Photography by Linda Pordon
Text by Leslie Garisto Pfaff
Lori Nuzzi had lived in the Ramsey house for 17 years, raising two kids and hosting countless holiday dinners. But by 2020, one child was in college, the other was poised to enter in fall and the kitchen that had fueled all those dinners was looking anything but celebratory. In fact, the entire main floor was begging for a redo. “I was living in a home that somebody else had designed and decorated,” Nuzzi says. Now, facing an empty nest, she wanted to give it what she calls “my own imprint.”
To do that, she called her sister, Linda Granert—which makes perfect sense, given that Granert is an interior designer with years of experience transforming nests, empty and otherwise. While Nuzzi and her sister have slightly different aesthetics—she’s more of a traditionalist while Granert hews toward modern—they agreed that what the house needed most was more: more light, more air and more room to entertain and move around in. The main culprit, they concurred, was the dining room, a space between the kitchen and living room that was so small it could barely accommodate a table and chairs—a space Nuzzi called “a hole that had no purpose.” In fact, for years Nuzzi and her children had used it as a game room. Granert effectively did away with the room, removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room to create one sweeping space that included the living room as well. She gutted the old kitchen, brightening the new space with white cabinets, a white marble backsplash and a pale gray peninsula with a quartzite countertop and illuminating it with four large white pendants with brass accents. “Those pendants are big—22 inches wide; there’s some substance to them,” Granert says, noting that the trend in kitchen lighting is toward more substantial fixtures. They’re transitional in style—a nod to her sister’s aesthetic inclination—but Granert sneaked in some modern counter stools featuring weathered-gray wood and white upholstered seats. Throughout the redesign, she admits, “I was trying to push Lori to go a little more modern.” (It’s a sister thing.) The kitchen also includes wine and coffee bars.
The house finally has a dining area worthy of the name, as white and bright as the kitchen it faces. The wooden table has a weathered gray finish, and the head chairs are upholstered in a soft blue velvet, while the side chairs are of a sturdier performance fabric in a subtle blue-and-white pattern. “I kept the furniture and fabric selections light so that the entire area stayed very light and airy-looking,” Granert says. With that in mind, she chose a delicate chandelier hung with rectangular crystals—“a traditional shape with a modern twist,” she calls it.
In the living area, she replaced the old red upholstered furniture with a curvilinear, tufted-back sofa in a soft blue velvet and a pair of chairs upholstered in a pale gray performance fabric. The coffee table and side tables all combine glass and metal, and they reflect the light that pours into the room through a series of large windows. Granert installed recessed lighting and painted the walls white, along with the fireplace surround and the built-in bookcases that flank the fireplace. Like the upholstered pieces, the window treatment—woven wood shades under blue-trimmed white curtains— softens the room.
Beyond the open-concept space is a small surprise: a family room given a very different feel with a tray ceiling created from repurposed Tennessee barnwood. While the window-filled room is naturally bright, Granert wanted to balance the bluestone tiles on the floor with a darker ceiling, against which a brass satellite chandelier with matte white bulbs strikes a modern note. The custom sectional sofa in a soft gray performance fabric is set off by an eye-catching circular coffee table with a striated gold top and a black hammered-metal base.