Blurring the boundary between indoors and out, an imaginative renovation transforms a 1970s ranch home in Wyckoff.
Written by Leslie Garisto Pfaff
Design by Dan D’Agostino
Photography by Dan D’Agostino
Cancel that moving van. Tired as they were of staring at the same dark earth tones day after day for 15 years, a Haworth couple with two school-age children searched the Internet in vain for a happy new home. Only new construction had the modern vibe they craved, and its price was outside their range. Then there was the tree-lined street they lived on—they had to admit they were still smitten with it.
The answer for these homeowners turned out to be not a new house, but a new look. They wanted more cheerful surroundings, and that’s exactly what they got—without having their stationery reprinted or their china swathed in bubble wrap. Renovation made the most sense. “It feels like a brand-new home, and we don’t have to move,” exults homeowner Rachel, adding that she now doesn’t plan to call that van for a long, long time.
Color schemes went from dark and dated to light and modern. And the biggest transformation was probably the basement, the focus of the redesign’s first phase. Once blah and devoted to storage, it’s now the entertainment hotspot of the home. “They do a lot of entertaining, so they’re sure to use the pool table, bar and family room nearby,” says designer Jennifer Pacca of the eponymous Hillsdale firm. No space was overlooked—even the space under the stairs became a clubhouse in the kids’ play area, where a pop of turquoise can’t help but brighten the day.
“What we did was section off a gym area to help us stay in shape and create a living-room area and a play area for the kids,” says Rachel. “Previously we had their toys all over the house.”
The family had a finished basement before, but it lacked the wow factor that Pacca introduced with a carefully curated mix of old and new—for example, clear acrylic barstools against a tradi-tional wood-based bar for an eclectic vibe. Attention to details suchas the staircase woodworking provided “a more polished, finished custom look,” the designer says.
Explains Rachel: “The space before was finished, but bare.”
Next, Pacca and the couple set their sights on the kitchen, living room and family room upstairs, where even the fireplace was entrenched in earth tones. Instead of the brown-stone fireplace that once darkened the family room, Pacca says, “we created a much sleeker look with white and a floating mantel.” Yes, color was a powerful tool in the living and family rooms, as gray and white with navy accents swept away the browns and maroons. “We lightened everything up,” says Rachel, taking special note of how contemporary gray breathed new life into a “tired” brown bookcase in the living room, where navy-and-gray pattern chair cushions provide a lively contrast. Since the colonial has a bit of a farm-house style to it, Pacca softened the modern décor with touches of reclaimed wood like the living-room cocktail table.
For the kitchen, the couple bade farewell to orange-tone maple cabinetry and brown granite and welcomed a white-on-white scheme with classic details such as shaker-style panels for the cabi-net doors. A new island configuration “created a more user-friendly environment,” Pacca says, where guests can pull up a chair and watch the cook in action. Rachel loves the fine touches like the quartzite counters and Thassos backsplash and how the kitchen simply flows—something she especially appreciates at gatherings such as for Thanksgiving.
With the home’s makeover—especially the basement, which “actually gets used now”—Rachel feels the family really expanded its living space, and without the hefty cost of an addition or the hassle of moving on. Today, she says, “We’re in love with the house and the town.”