DESIGN by MICHAL RUBIN
PHOTOGRAPHY by MG INFOCUS
TEXT by NAYDA RONDON
How often do we get to actually make our dreams come true? Michal Rubin of Livingston-based MR Interiors truly did when she got to design her family’s Livingston home. She lavished all her creative energy on realizing her vision—a 5,000-square-foot new-construction with six bedrooms and five bathrooms—that not only reflected her personal style but also fit the needs of her husband and three young boys.
“My experience working with other clients gave me the tools and confidence I needed to complete this project,” Rubin says. “As I do for all my clients, I mocked up every single space in the house and presented the concepts to my husband, who gave me complete artistic freedom.” This labor of love started in December 2022 with the design phase and ended— for now—in summer 2023 with the move-in.
“I wanted the home to feel cool and effortless,” Rubin says. “I love putting together looks and playing with patterns and colors. That said, I was particularly interested in playing with monochromatic design for the communal areas, especially the dining room, kitchen and sitting/family room.”
Creating that effortless vibe took considerable work, involving room conversions, agonizing over design choices and making tough thematic calls. For instance, the dining room was initially meant to be a first-floor guest bedroom, but after a re-envisioning epiphany, Rubin decided to knock it down and transform it.
Similarly, a would-be guest bathroom became a whimsical wet bar and a guest closet was turned into a convenient pass-through to the kitchen. “We like to entertain, so a formal dining room was important to us,” the designer/homeowner explains.
This reimagining freed up the original dining space, initially intended as open with the living room and kitchen. Rather than designing the resulting space as one extra-long living room, Rubin divided the area into an informal sitting section—centered on a fireplace accented by a Calacatta quartz surround—on one side and a more formal space—anchored by a custom built-in unit—on the other.
All this creative freedom was heady, but Rubin knew when restraint should rule. “I wanted what I wanted, but I also needed to ensure that the concepts were grounded and would stand the test of time.
“My biggest challenge was knowing when to take off my designer hat to make certain that I wasn’t forgoing the practicality my family would need in the future,” she says. “For example, my youngest son, 4 when we moved in, begged for a themed room. As a designer, I badly wanted to design one because of the fun creative process, but as a practical homeowner, I knew that in a few years he’d outgrow it and we’d need to start new.”
Rubin’s disciplined design— characterized by an artful balance of clean, cohesive neutrals with subtle, sophisticated elements of sensory interest—was also evident in the dining room. She wanted wallpaper for the space, but she didn’t want it to dominate. Her solution: a monochromatic Seabrook Wallcovering design with movement and interest in its pattern, which she framed with wainscoting and trimwork. Pairing them with her existing wood table, she introduced new Everly Quinn dining chairs. “They’re the perfect stone color, pulling in the wallpaper’s gray and ivory and the table’s walnut tone,” Rubin says.
For the “sophisticated and sleek” kitchen of her dreams, Rubin paired white cabinetry with dark wood accents such as a Fabuwood stove range hood. Not “too golden” or “too yellow,” the brass cabinet hardware pieces exude a just-right “moody” glow. From Reliance Surfaces, the Oyster Quartz used on the countertop and the backsplash gives the impression of marble while offering higher durability and affordability. Says Rubin: “I had my fabricator cut stone that had the most ‘bubbles’ because I wanted it to make the biggest impact.”
Every step of the process felt surreally satisfying. “I love all my clients and end every project feeling grateful for the opportunity,” Rubin says. “But the ability to design for yourself is an out-of-this-world experience.”