Design by K+CO Living | Interiors by Karen B. Wolf
Photography by Raquel Langworthy
Text by Nayda Rondon
Built in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, a Short Hills colonial was ready for an interior that would be more modern, more sophisticated—and more practical.
On the outside, the Short Hills home, a 3,800-square-foot Dutch Colonial built in 1904, was all charm with its mahogany wraparound porch and historic character. On the inside, not so much. The home’s primarily white décor lacked personality and its main floor’s odd, narrow configurations posed challenges to flow.
The homeowners turned to Karen B. Wolf of K+Co Living Interiors in Short Hills for stylish solutions. “We wanted to keep the bones of the house while modernizing it and making it livable,” the wife says.
“I understood the client’s inherent tailored taste,” says Wolf. “She wanted us to push her out of her safety zone and provide fresh resources not seen everywhere else.” Wolf had designed the owners’ home office when they purchased the property in 2017. For this 2021 project, which took eight months to complete, Wolf and her team tackled the first floor, including a foyer, a mudroom, a powder room and living, family and dining spaces.
Because visitors are greeted with a front-to-back view of the home upon entry, it was important to visually connect the spaces. “We wove a salmon and charcoal palette throughout the rooms with a transition wallpaper in the foyer as our anchor,” Wolf explains.
The dining room, the first area guests see when entering, was the first one Wolf tackled. While quite narrow, it enjoyed lots of natural light streaming in from the French doors and bay windows. To enhance the open feel, Wolf opted for lighter colors and modern forms. Airy Lucite chairs cushioned in light-striped crocodile vinyl counterbalance dark-colored Klismos end chairs and a Robert James dining table with a cerused oak top and a brass base. A John Richard credenza blends into the creamy Winfield Thybony Saville Row buff wallpaper, the tone-on-tone effect adding to the expansive feel. The John Beard “swoosh” painting creates movement in the galley-style space while the Visual Comfort ceiling pendant’s glass globes add to the room’s lightness.
Also visible from the front entry area, the living room—once again, narrow—was similarly “expanded” and glamourized for tailored yet practical elegance. Satisfying the owners’ sophisticated tastes while accommodating the rough-and-tumble needs of their three boys and frequent social traffic, the living room features comfy swivel chairs in plush performance velvet and a round coffee table that lends itself to a four-chair setup perfect for overflow seating from the nearby dining room.
Wolf carried the relaxed luxe sensibility into the family room. Luckily this main hangout area is also the most spacious, affording space to place a roomy performance sectional offering comfortable seating for everyday use and social gatherings. Given the sectional’s substantial dimensions, Wolf paired it with a clear Interlude Home Surrey coffee table. “We needed a large table to anchor the sofa, but we didn’t want the room to feel heavy or crowded, so we chose an acrylic and glass table to create a more open feel,” she says. Two Luna Grey cerused oak cabinets do double duty as bar storage and decorative accents. Overhead, the “big and bold” Maxwell chandelier imparts refined radiance. “The beautiful barrel ceiling lent itself to a slightly more formal environment than a typical den,” the designer explains.
Connecting the living and family rooms as well as a side mudroom, the foyer creates its own singular sensation with walls bedecked in Aviva Standoff Horizon wallpaper. The decorative accents atop the Melange Lisette Hall chest serve as color block elements juxtaposed with the bold wallpaper. Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace paint on the ceiling and trim also complements without competing.
“Each room flows into the next,” the homeowner says. “We’re so pleased with how livable yet sophisticated every room is and how everything ties together.”