It wasn’t that they didn’t like their house. The owners of a 3,500-square-foot center-hall colonial in Branchburg loved their home, which they’d been living in for 30 years. After a major redesign 20 years ago, they’d been content with their traditional style, which the wife describes as “Tuscan with many shades of brown and gold.” (Her three grown children referred to it as “the brown house.”) But when the pandemic hit and the retired couple found themselves spending an “exorbitant” amount of time at home, their surroundings came in for new scrutiny.
“We realized our furniture was dated and falling apart,” the wife says, noting that they were overdue for a refresh. The initial plan called for a minor update. Yet after they connected via the website Houzz with Pamela Cooper of Cooper Interiors in Watchung, the homeowners’ original idea of simply replacing a sofa and a love seat in the family room morphed into a nine-month renovation of the entire first floor.
With Cooper and her design team in, the browns and blahs went out. “The rooms were dark and dated,” says Cooper. “I feel like we breathed fresh air into each space with color, texture and attention to detail.”
The new vision came to include replacing the entire first floor’s disjointed wood, tile and carpet floorings with a uniform installation of a pre-engineered hardwood, as well as refreshing the walls with light, neutral paint colors and wallpaper in eye-catching prints and patterns.
On a design level, the family room received the most elevated attention. For greater continuous flow, Cooper had the room’s sunken floor raised to be even with the others. To heighten visual interest, she created an accent wall featuring timeless yet trendy Thibaut grass cloth wallpaper and a custom gray marble fireplace with tile surround and white mantel. Playful red zebra throw pillows perk up the Vanguard Furniture sofa and the leather coffee table while also complementing the swivel chair in a similar pattern.
For the living room, the designer selected light blue and gray hues with navy accents. On the walls, Benjamin Moore’s Fanfare creates a dreamy airiness, while Simply White on the trims and ceiling enhances the uplifting ambiance. Custom draperies from Fabric Collection paired with Samuel & Sons decorative-trimmed panels are refined yet casual enough to suit the homeowners’ relaxed lifestyle. Cooper also introduced small touches with big personal impact. “Pam picked a painting with three birds that’s special to us because it represents our three kids,” says the homeowner.
In the dining room, which retained the homeowners’ original furniture, Cooper added two Fairfield Chair host chairs, Thibaut printed wallpaper and a dark blue-framed mirror from Serena & Lily.
Offsetting the traditional mood of the dark cherry wood pieces, the Chapman & Myers chandelier over the dining table and the Mitzi light sconces on either side of the china cabinet give a lighter, more modern feeling to the space.
“Pam was terrific,” says the husband. “She was open to our input and supportive of my hands-on involvement. Some designers may not be so willing to let an amateur do-it-yourselfer take on parts of the project like painting.” But he also covered the china cabinet’s glass panels with the fabric Cooper selected to refresh the piece, which now proudly displays his grandmother‘s china.
“We wanted a home filled with all the things we love, a place where we can live comfortably and entertain friends and family, and do it with a little casual elegance,” the wife says. “Pam’s fresh and creative ideas gave us this. She and her excellent team have elevated our home to a more modern transitional style while still keeping to our traditional theme.”
TEXT by NAYDA RONDON
DESIGN by PAMELA COOPER
PHOTOGRAPHY by VIC WAHBY