DESIGN by JENNIFER PACCA INTERIORS
PHOTOGRAPHY by MARCO RICCA
TEXT by LESLIE GARISTO PFAFF
You don’t always need a facelift to look younger, and neither does a house always need to have walls knocked down. To make a 1940s center-hall colonial in Ridgewood brighter, cheerier and more welcoming, an inspired cosmetic makeover turned out to be just the thing. When Karen Visco and her husband Ryan Hunter purchased the home in 2021, they saw it as “traditional,” and that was both good and bad. On the plus side, it was full of graceful architectural details, like wainscoting and dentil molding; on the minus, the décor tended toward the dark and drab.
So the couple enlisted the aid of Wyckoff-based designer Jennifer Pacca to transform the home into an elegant but casual space that worked for their growing family—which included their then 2-yearold son, Jackson, who would be joined in 2022 by new brother Grayson. “We were looking to make the main living areas very comfortable and functional for us, while also sort of bringing in some more modern elements, some pops of color,” says Visco. Pacca chose a palette of whites and blues for those common areas, in part as a nod to the East Hampton house the family had lived in just before moving to Ridgewood, but also to give the space a clean, airy, modern feel.
In the living room, for instance, she painted the walls in Benjamin Moore’s Sea Salt, accented with Moore’s White Dove on the trim and framed the large windows with sheer open-weave curtains in a beige-and-gray weave. An off-white sectional sofa (upholstered in performance fabric) is enlivened with bright blue pillows and a blue-and-white throw. The dark-stained wood flooring might have come off as too dark, but because the pale area rug is so large, the floor hue serves helpfully to emphasize its brightness.
The dining room, where a gray Parsons-style table is flanked by Chippendale chairs and a buffet with Chippendale details sits against one of the walls, could have come off as overly formal, but Pacca struck a balance: “We tried to mix a dressier feel with something more casual,” she says. The chairs, for instance, are painted white to add a touch of the beach. The Chinoiserie wallpaper with its silver sheen, on the other hand, is decidedly dressy, and yet it balances the room rather than overwhelm it. Visco wasn’t instantly enamored of the print, afraid that it might come off as simply too much, but Pacca and her team assured her she’d like it when it was installed on the walls—and they were right. “It’s stunning and so unexpected,” Visco says now. “I get so many compliments on it.”
One of her favorite spaces in the house is the octagonal sunroom, another room with a beachy, modern feel thanks to deep blue walls against white trim and a grouping of white, clean-lined upholstered chairs. Again they’re balanced by an unexpected element: an elaborate chandelier of green recycled glass, and another touch that Visco wasn’t sure about until its installation. The design team (and her husband, who was already on board with it) begged her to trust them, and she’s very glad she did. “I feel like it makes the whole room,” she says.
A CPA, Visco has an office in Manhattan, but she often works from home, so the design of her home office was particularly important to her. “She wanted a space that would be pretty and bright and soft,” says Pacca. The softness derives from a white shag rug and a pale gray-and-white wallpaper, the brightness from a white sofa, a sawhorse-style desk with a clear glass top and numerous pops of hot pink, in everything from the playful art on the walls to a hot-pink throw pillow to the vertical floral bands that decorate the curtains on the window behind the desk.
“We placed the desk in front of the window because Karen wanted a nice Zoom background,” says Pacca. Initially, they’d planned to use the fabric on the curtains in their entirety, but the cost turned out to be prohibitive. Instead, Pacca suggested using it only on the banding, and the effect was stunning. “I think it would have been too much if we’d done the whole drape in the brighter fabric,” Visco says. “As is, it’s just perfect.”
In fact, “perfect” sums up her feelings about the design as a whole. “What we love about the house,” says Visco, “is everything.”