When successful businessmen began moving out of New York City in the early 1900s, many built sprawling residences in bucolic Ridgewood. Today, this affluent and sophisticated suburb is defined by those homes and architecture—from historic Victorians to post-war Cape Cods. So when Karyn Donohue, an interior designer at W.L. Landau Ethan Allen in River Edge, was hired to revamp the inside of a century-old Dutch Colonial, she faced the challenge of modernizing an aging space while maintaining its timeless charm.
“It was a major renovation that required opening up the first-floor family room,” she describes. The living room and an old-fashioned, window-lined enclosed porch were also part of this redo.
Donohue collaborated with the homeowners—a family of four—to gauge their interests and desires. They wanted an area that was “casually elegant” and a large family room that “didn’t look cold,” she recalls. To start, a wall separating the family and living rooms was knocked down to create an open floor plan, giving Donohue and her team a spacious blank canvas to fill.
“We went with something transitional. In other words, it’s not contemporary, and it’s not traditional,” she explains. “A lot of homeowners want a little bit of a blend.”
A “serene monochromatic” color scheme accomplishes that, and it’s used throughout the design to lend an overall flow between the two rooms. In the family room, the walls are covered with Benjamin Moore’s light Edgecomb Gray and two prints from Ethan Allen—one depicting a calming seascape, Donohue notes. Wood tones, neither true brown or red, complement the soft gray and are found on the furniture, from the two Lynn sofas by Ethan Allen to the casual coffee table to the Roman shades on the windows.
“The sofas are nice and deep—you can fall in to them and easily relax,” she says. “All of the pieces are casual in size and scale, from the side tables to the floor lamps and the carpet. But the color tones are a bit more elegant.”