In This Dreamy Short Hills Home, Every Day Feels Like Vacation

A local designer infuses a young family's space with an easy, breezy style.

The eclectic living room in this Short Hills home is punctuated by a welcoming window seat with pagoda-inspired pelmet, upholstered seating in luxe fabric, and bespoke ceramic butterflies created in France. Photo by Jane Beiles

When a young Short Hills family launched their multiroom decorating project, they turned to interior designer Kristina Phillips of Ridgewood, who reimagined their living room, primary bedroom and adjoining sitting-room kitchenette in a sophisticated, artistic way.

“My clients are well traveled, so I wanted their spaces to reflect the artwork they collected along the way. When embarking on a design project, I always ask the family about their favorite destinations and hotels. As soon as the homeowners mentioned Casa del Mar in Santa Monica, I understood their vibe and started to design around a beachy theme with a Mediterranean feel—cool blues, aquas and greens, punched up with bright colors,” says Phillips.

Bold artwork and painted, upholstered chairs warm up a corner of the bedroom suite, a favorite spot for a cup of tea outside the adjoining kitchenette. Photo by Jane Beiles

Having grown up in the Bahamas, Germany and France, the designer relates to her clients’ penchant for travel and their desire to bring culture, authenticity and originality to the homes she reimagines. “Whether it’s just a few rooms or a whole house, it’s important to create spaces that are unique and authentic to clients’ experiences and taste by listening first to their stories,” the designer says. 

“For the living room, we wanted a space that was welcoming and sophisticated and felt like a trip to someplace new and exciting,” says the homeowner. “Seating was chosen to feel like a comfortable lounge where you can settle in and sip a cocktail, which is exactly how we use the space. The living room is now our chosen pre-dinner spot with friends who enjoy knowing the stories behind the art, fabrics and décor.” 

The lounge area wows with colors, patterns and sculptural shelves loaded with books and objets d’art. Photo by Jane Beiles

The project began, literally, from the ground up, with a custom wool rug that pulled in the colors of the artwork. A pelmet window treatment was designed in the style of an Asian pagoda, complementd by natural woven shades to add texture and privacy when lowered. As a finishing touch to the primary living room wall and a nod to the homeowners’ love of butterflies, Phillips commissioned porcelain butterflies from France, each hand molded in various stages of flight and then hand painted. 

“The home is kid friendly, with durable performance fabrics,” says Phillips. “The fabric we chose for the living room window seat was a bit more precious and, since window seats are kid magnets, we had that material treated to withstand use by an active family.” 

The dreamy primary bedroom was reimagined to create five distinct living areas. A bright, vibrant palette and organic textures contribute to the every-day-is-a-vacay vibe. Photo by Jane Beiles

The project also included a retreat-like primary bedroom that optimized the area’s large footprint. The space was divided into distinct zones, including a sleeping area with a fireplace flanked by comfy window seats, and an adjacent lounge area. 

The bedroom features a bonus element: a galley kitchenette with its own seating area, a coffee and wine bar, and floating shelves that offer storage for bed linens and towels. The project was an exercise in smart space planning; by designing several functional areas within the very large bedroom, five usable spaces were ultimately created.

The well-appointed kitchenette is a wallpapered bonus nook where coffee, wine and snacks are always on hand. Photo by Jane Beiles

“After 18 months of design,” says the homeowner, “we’re thrilled with the end result and find ourselves entertaining more in what had been a seldom-used area. We are so happy with our new living room, as well as our own private retreat.”  

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