Design by Styled by Storms
Photography by Aimee Ryan
Text by Nayda Rondon
Calm, contemporary, comfortable. That’s the atmosphere Sarah Storms of Maplewood-based Styled by Storms was aiming to conjure for the dining room of her clients’ home in South Orange. Result: three Cs out of three. “My clients wanted a beautiful dining room full of color and comfort for family dinners and larger holiday gatherings,” says Storms, adding that as repeat clients, they felt comfortable letting her take the lead. “The trust has already been established; it allows you to jump right in and propose ideas that may be a little out of the ordinary.”
Employing her trademark color and pattern mixing, Storms set about connecting the dining room—centrally located within the 1950 center-hall colonial—to the rest of the main floor, where blue is the ruling color of choice.
Storms leaned into the homeowners’ attraction to coastal blues and whites by incorporating those colors into the space, starting with the metallic navy blue grass cloth from York Wallcoverings, which she paired with the original-to-the-home millwork newly painted in Benjamin Moore White Heron.
Respecting the home’s traditional bones—dentil crown molding, chair railing, fluted casing trim, 6-inch baseboards—Storms’s design played off and enhanced these elements, elevating the style to another level of casual chic. She incorporated large-scale art, such as a 36-inch-by-48-inch framed Ka’iuliani print by Hayley Mitchell, to make a big design statement. Storms also felt strongly about the bold choice of the Bernhardt sideboard, which is artistically carved and overlaid with German silver. “It could have made some people uncomfortable, but my clients wanted to go for it,” she says.
Given the intentionally minimalist aesthetics, it was essential that every single element enhance and complement the design. “I fell in love with this carved sideboard,” Storms declares. “It is absolutely stunning in person. It’s incredibly unique, but somehow, with the German silver finish, there is a level of sophistication and subtle glamour that works within a family home.”
The room’s most challenging aspect turned out to be among its most rewarding. “This room has an 8-foot ceiling height,” the designer says. “So the question became how to make the space feel taller and more expansive. We did that by contrasting the glossy white millwork against the metallic navy-blue grass cloth wallpaper. That drew the eye up and created the illusion of desired proportions.”
Also luring the gaze upward, the Talia Linear chandelier from Visual Comfort is a standout. “Its blown glass globes act as much as sculptural art as they do a light source,” Storms says. “It’s the ultimate intersection of form and function.
“There is nothing more exciting than an object that satisfies multiple desires,” she adds. “Sculptural art adds a different layer to a room, and this chandelier has interesting grooved glass globes clustered to create an almost cloud-like effect.”
Artful drapery also maximizes the design impact, contributing an organic counterpoint to the sleek metallic surfaces. “The shibori linen fabric has some shine and gorgeous shades of blue,” says Storms. “It adds softness and, most important, a layer of pattern.”
Anchored by an Almira area rug from Jaipur Living, the warm-hued Marley dining table by Universal and curved Hawkins dining chairs by Four Hands impart a lighthearted vitality and modernity to the space. The Global Views mirror reflects the contemporary chic vibe as it adds a sense of depth and dimension.
All the carefully curated pieces come together in harmonious style. “After the design, the dining room integrated with the other spaces on the main floor, even elevating them,” Storms says. “Calm and contemporary, it feels ready for any small or large gathering.”