Design by Kathryn Cook
Photography by Vic Wahby
Text by Nayda Rondon
“WOW” and “NOW.” That’s how Essex Fells-based designer Kathryn Cook describes the aesthetics she sought to create for the Livingston townhouse-style residence of Michelle and Adam Cox and their two boys.
“They wanted to shed the old and explore the new,” Cook explains. “They were busy parents, and the right time to redesign their home had not previously presented itself. But now they were ready to express their personalities. The home was decorated in a style dictated by the previous owners’ choices; it was dark, tired and stuck in the early 2000s. Now it’s fresh, new, fun and clean.”
The project, which took place from late 2019 to mid 2021, started with Michelle wanting to replace her bedroom’s window treatments. It evolved into a complete revamp not only of the master, but also the entry foyer and living, dining and family rooms.
“This was truly a collaborative effort to capture my client’s spirit—bright, generous and decidedly exuberant,” says Cook.
They bonded over their mutual passion for wallpaper. “It’s fun to have a client who loves it even more than I do!” the designer declares. “I think the hardest part of our discussions was editing the wallpaper choices.”
But when Cox fell for Phillip Jeffries’ Bloom design, neither lost any sleep in deciding it was perfect for the primary bedroom. Placed behind a vertical channel-style headboard, the mural printed on grasscloth is the suite’s focal point. In the same flower pattern, a smaller-scale version lines the tray ceiling. Floral motifs repeat in the Slamp ceiling fixture and the large art piece.
Cook and Cox also found common ground in prioritizing functional livability. “Like any contemporary family with school-aged children, they’re busy and social,” Cook says of her clients. “They needed to use their space more productively.”
Cook obliged by converting the seldom-utilized living room into a multipurpose library/lounge that now gets daily use. “The idea was for a more intimate spot for entertaining friends, providing room to circulate and converse,” she explains. “We didn’t have room in the dining room so we created a ‘bar’ along the back wall and put in seating. During the day, the room—closed off by French doors— serves as a home office.”
The square-patterned Phillip Jeffries graphite grass cloth with brass-accented rivets stamps the room with powerful presence. The large-scale painting over the bar credenza further draws attention in and up. The other furnishings— a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams desk, a streamlined sofa from CB2, a Natuzzi chair and Noir round tables—were chosen for complementary scale, form and flow.
Transforming the dining room into a dazzling showcase meant banishing chocolate paint and white shadowboxes from the walls and ceiling, and stripping fussy drapes from the windows. The Jonathan Adler silver cabinet and credenza store serve-ware in glistening style. The Costantini Pietro dining set makes a striking statement, as do the two wall art pieces by artist Jesús Núñez. Mimicking marble, Phillip Jeffries’ Marbleous wallpaper meets a silvery, textured-papered ceiling. “Previously the room was very dark, but when we put in this amazing wallpaper it really opened up the room,” says Cox.
In the family room, Cook intentionally toned things down. She chose Benjamin Moore’s Thunder for walls and Chantilly Lace for the ceiling and trim to make the space lighter, happier and homier. Adding to the inviting feel, a performance fabric sectional/ottoman exudes roomy comfort while motorized shades welcome light in.
“Kathryn helped keep our home child- and dog-friendly and comfortable, while giving us a modern, uncluttered feel,” Cox says. “I was surprised by how much bigger the rooms looked after the project was completed. What a difference color choices can make!
“Every room is so different,” she continues. “They have a contemporary, unique feel. I also love the color palette of my home now. It has a fresh, clean and modern look that makes me feel happy and relaxed.”