Connection was always the central idea behind this New Jersey vacation home. The owners purchased the 110-year-old house in order to be closer to family after leaving behind a property in the relatively faraway Oyster Bay, New York. “The goal with [this] house is to have people come over all the time,” says homeowner Sheila Peluso, whose family of four (including two young children, a girl and a boy), has relatives who live just 10 minutes away. Fittingly, the space is designed for people of all ages and for extended family and new friends alike.
“I [didn’t] want it to feel like it’s a house where people are like, ‘Oh, we can't do anything,’” Peluso says. Luckily for their interior designer, Danielle Fennoy of Revamp Interior Design, it wasn’t too far of a stretch of the imagination to picture what her clients’ family parties look like: She’s actually attended them.
To date, Fennoy has worked on five projects with these clients. Since their fateful first home years ago—that super-modern Oyster Bay abode that this traditional Jersey house is replacing—there’s been years of getting to know each other and annual invites to holiday parties sent Fennoy’s way. Not only has all of this bonding allowed the family to trust Fennoy’s instincts implicitly—“She knows how we live, that’s something you can’t just buy,” Peluso says—but celebrating together has also given the designer the valuable experience of understanding their entertaining needs. That, in turn, has given Fennoy the opportunity to better tailor her designs to the family, crafting homes that are beautiful spaces in which guests can still put their feet up.
An air of joviality hangs in this home, which is filled with color, pattern, and comfortable furnishings. Nothing was chosen simply for what it added visually. Instead, both Fennoy and the homeowners set forth with the expectation that every room would be in regular use. “All of the rooms are [made] for living,” Fennoy explains.
Given the home’s traditional bones, it could have been relatively easy for the interiors to end up feeling stuffy. And yet, at every turn, a lightness prevails. Above a fireplace a charming drawing of a family of foxes, commissioned from Katsunori Miyagi, hangs above a three-legged bowl by Chen and Kai, which sits on the mantle. In the dining room, where a glittering crystal chandelier could hang, a spirited, adjustable fixture by RBW looms instead.
With this home the designer’s aim was also not to create something entirely new, but rather to show the homeowners a new way of looking at the furniture and textiles they’d lived with for years in previous spaces. “There was a certain wallpaper that was on the back of the bar in Oyster Bay, and in the new home [Fennoy] used it for curtains in the kitchen,” Peluso says. “She said, ‘I promised you I’d bring some of that into the house.’ It was a very loving touch.”
The process was about recontextualizing the familiar with new finds and fresh combinations. In the end, Fennoy summarizes it best: “I like to take things from a family’s past and bring them into the present and the future.”