When Brooke Hills Sperling, president of Columbia Brooke Hills Design, moved into her Upper Saddle River home with her husband, Mark, and their toddler, she found herself in designer heaven; the 6,000+-square-foot colonial with six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, pool, guest house, tennis court and soccer field presented the perfect design test lab.
“The home is always evolving,” she explains with a laugh. “As a decorator, I’m constantly shopping for clients and seeing new materials to bring home—a job hazard.”
At first, the home had a French country feel. “The dining room was red and there was a rooster chandelier in the kitchen,” Sperling says. “My initial goal was to quiet the space.”
While staying true to the home’s architecture, she stripped all the floral wallpapers, tore out the green carpeting, stained every inch of hardwood, brought the wall colors to neutrals and custom-designed all the window treatments. Most pieces were new, bought for each room’s specifications.
Sperling selected neutral textural wallpaper for most of the first floor. For the formal “grown-up” dining room, the challenge was to find wallpaper that echoed the rest of the main floor’s color scheme while also inserting a “fun” surprise. When she found the Scalamandré zebra-patterned wallpaper, she knew she’d hit her target. “The zebras add a lot of action; the space comes alive.” (But alive, of course, means ever-changing: such is Sperling’s passion for continuing evolution that the zebras, fitting though they’ve been, will soon give way to Phillip Jeffries black grass-cloth.)
To further amp up the room’s impact, Sperling had the ceiling painted in Benjamin Moore Decorator White and trimmed with Farrow & Ball Pitch Black. The RH round table and Molteni&C chairs add to the conversation with bold statements.
“I let the architecture—and the inhabitants and how they live—dictate the design,” Sperling says. In this spirit, she transformed a sitting room into a space that now sees much more action as her husband’s music room.
The space now strikes all the right chords—the Yamaha Disklavier piano is a star attraction. Sperling added the built-in wall feature to showcase her husband’s sheet music. “They’re an eclectic mix, frequently changing as he often picks up new music during our trips,” she says.
Built-in nooks framing the fireplace display items rich in memories—maracas, a bongo and ceramics collected in Mexico. Hanging above the fireplace, a sketch of a jazz musician is a gift from Sperling’s father-in-law, while a poster from Bayou Maharajah, a documentary that Sperling’s husband produced, adorns a nearby wall.
Sperling underscored the melody of neutral colors and design notes with JF Fabrics window treatments she designed herself, Stark camel carpet and Molteni&C black sofas accented with black and cream pillows in Kelly Wearstler fabric. Natural elements such as the wood furniture and greenery are in tune with the room’s welcoming composition.
Inviting comfort is also the mood of the informal eating room. “We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner here,” she says of the charming space decorated with Restoration Hardware table and chairs, orb-shaped Hicks Pendants by Visual Comfort and comfy banquette cushions and pillows by Ryan Studio Pillows. “When my daughter has friends over, they can slide on to one side of the banquette. It works equally well for more formal gatherings.”
“For all of our first floor’s ‘public spaces’ I’ve tried to create a style that’s sophisticated, open, classic yet contemporary and evolving,” says Sperling. “I think I’ve succeeded.”
TEXT by NAYDA RONDON
DESIGN by BROOKE HILLS SPERLING
PHOTOGRAPHY by BRITTANY AMBRIDGE