DESIGN by DESIGN MACS
PHOTOGRAPHY by MIKE VAN TASSELL
TEXT by DONNA ROLANDO
Anyone can call their home a castle, but a five-bedroom, new construction North Caldwell home actually resembles one. The owners, of Italian descent, wanted a Mediterranean influence that would remind them of vacations in their ancestral land. And building their very own turret gave them old-world-style rotund rooms, while towering ceilings and marble created a grand effect.
“I wanted that old stone European look which you get when you go to Italy,” says the lady of the house, the mother of two young daughters. “I wanted a large feel, and I like the idea that it reminds me of a castle.”
This was a great transition for a couple who had lived on West New York’s waterfront, but their vision required a clean slate and the right team, with Marissa Sauer of Design MACS. As Boxtree Construction started work in 2020, Sauer seized the opportunity to guide both look and functionality early on.
Perhaps no place captures the grandeur of the couple’s quest more than the great room, visible from the Juliet balcony courtesy of 19-foot-high coffered ceilings. With great attention to detail, Sauer treated the ceilings to handmade Maya Romanoff wallpaper in natural silica mica. “It kind of sparkles,” she says, especially in the glow of another lofty eye-catcher. That’s the crystal-and-iron chandelier shaped as a gigantic orb, inspired by 19th century physicist Foucault’s gyroscope. To emphasize height, silk drapes by The Shade Store run from floor to ceiling while motorized shades add ease. A trio of contemporary mirrors by Uttermost also highlights the drama above. Another accent is the cast-stone fireplace, which Sauer describes as “subtle but beautiful and striking.”
The challenge in the great room was providing seating for gatherings while keeping it soft and delicate with family-minded performance fabrics. The solution: Instead of a chunky sectional, Sauer provided twin velvet-feel armchairs and a woven sofa in neutrals as well as misty-blue window benches, predominately Bernhardt. Stanton’s Silhouette rug in Greystone over hardwood grounds the scene.
Since this “castle” is also home, snuggling was a priority accomplished with an off-white chaise, while navy velvet ottomans by Article prove fun and functional.
This family is known to fill its castle with guests, so the open concept had to be “super-functional,” says the homeowner. With an easy-flow kitchen and dining room and a basement entertainment center, she says, “we could really host upstairs, downstairs, anywhere—and there’s a space for everyone.”
Making for hassle-free events is what Sauer calls “a most special moment,” an illuminated, glass-enhanced archway between the kitchen and dining room that acts as both storage and a serving station with bar sink and beverage fridge. Courtesy of the glass, there’s always a connection between these rooms and the guests enjoying them, the homeowner says. The rooms are further united by Maya Romanoff ’s polished silver ceiling wallpaper, a “trick to make the space a little bit cozier,” Sauer says.
“In designing this kitchen, we wanted it to be really soft and classic and stand the test of time,” she explains. Custom cabinets in Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White are styled with glass and assorted hardware. Beauty meets durability in the lightly veined quartz countertops by Aurea Stone and icy-blue island chairs by Bernhardt. Yet the real showstopper is the geometric mosaic featuring mother-of-pearl behind the Wolf range, which stands out against the Thassos subway backsplash. Like a cherry on a cake, the design is topped off with Eichholtz USA acrylic island pendants and a Visual Comfort two-tiered chandelier, both in polished nickel.
In an octagon nook sun-kissed through bay windows, the kitchen dining area was meant to be special. But disappointment loomed when the table Sauer had planned to place there ended up discontinued. She tracked down the manufacturer in India and arranged for a custom piece. “It’s just gorgeous,” she says, describing its inlaid bone finish preserved with glass. Durability is built into the soft white chairs by Vanguard, almost welcoming spills.
The dining room rises to any occasion with a reclaimed wood table that goes from big to bigger. “Seating was the thing in this room,” Sauer says, describing inviting head chairs in damask and peacock seafoam green velvet as well as side chairs in velvet and leather—all custom. “We wanted to create in every room a pop of color and use beautiful textures and patterns and still consider durability,” the designer explains. The palette includes blues and green in artwork and blue velvet shades, while a custom rug by Kane Carpet lends texture. Chandeliers of wrought iron and recycled bottle glass by Currey & Company add a bit of intrigue and ornate sconces, an antique look.
The designer took great pains to ensure that the fireplace would command attention, consulting with the millworker on site to get the wood surround just right despite an angled wall. As for the home office, it had to be sophisticated and complement the rest of the house, so Sauer stuck to neutral tones but sprinkled in blues and soft silvers. The carved desk where the wife often works has delicate legs for femininity and joins an elegant dining chair. Of the faux hide layered over a wool rug, Sauer says: “If you want to sit and work and be barefoot, it’s cozy.” Other features are a “whimsical” chandelier with cutout ovals, silver silk Roman shades and soft-blue built-ins that hide a printer. The ceiling wallpaper in charcoal herringbone is an unexpected touch.
Of the guest bedroom, Sauer says: “We wanted to make it feel really special and luxe despite the fact that it’s not such a huge space.” The solution? Inspired by the millwork, she created an accent around the oatmeal upholstered bed and added “exquisite wallpaper” in seafoam. “To have this wallpaper detail really gives the oomph,” Sauer says, while silver silk drapes reflect luxury. The clever use of mirrors helped max the space as did petite nightstands bearing acrylic lamps.
The couple looked to their master bedroom and bath for a five-star-hotel feel. The latter delivers with a cast-iron, claw-foot tub by Barclay that guarantees comfort in a cozy nook elevated by Carrara tile walls. To accomplish this, the homeowner, while nine months pregnant, made it her mission to test each tub, Sauer recalls. The winner not only was the pinnacle of relaxation, but a “beautiful statement piece,” she adds. For a spa effect, custom bookshelves flanking the tub lift the spirits with candles.
Marble is this room’s stone feature and problem solver at the same time. The designer united different areas in an elongated bathroom with Carrara and Thassos inlaid to mimic carpet. Then she let her dedication to detail carry the effect to the recessed ceiling.
It may have been a challenge to create a castle where kids can be kids, but the couple can testify that the fabric has stood up to everything from chocolate to slime. In fact, homeowner “Mom” says, “It’s exactly what we had envisioned: bright, rustic but also able to bring our image to life.”
Read more great New Jersey home projects in our Winter Issue.