Seeking more space for their growing family in 2020, designer Andrew Suvalsky and husband Michael Doan looked at various suburbs around New York City to raise their now 3½-year-old twins, Lucy and Joey. The search quickly ended in Essex County.
“Montclair has a special vibe” with its all-American feeling, mature tree-lined streets, walkability factor, beautiful architecture and more, says Suvalsky, principal of Andrew Suvalsky Designs. Moreover, “its reputation of being a progressive and welcoming community”—and its proximity to his Manhattan-based design studio—“all made sense.”
The 3,300 square-foot ranch-style home with a total of five bedrooms and three bathrooms “is big enough for us to feel comfortable, but not overwhelmed,” Suvalsky says. A finished basement has additional space for the kids to play, along with a second kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom.
“I really related to the Midcentury traditional style” and the fact the home was well maintained by the previous owners of 50 years. Still, he and Doan sought to put their personal stamp on the house. “I saw so much potential unrealized,” Suvalsky says. “From my perspective, it deserved—if not required—a significant overhaul.”
A five-month renovation transformed the 1952 home, including the exterior’s formerly brown-brick façade. “I wanted it much sharper and brighter but still classic,” hence the choice to repaint the brick white, Suvalsky says. Vivid blue trim adds depth, and the new yellow front door “is a literal and metaphorical gateway” to the yellow accents you see inside. So are hues of blue. “It was very important that the outside reference the interior and vice versa,” he says.
His vision for the interior? “I love a playful, updated twist on Midcentury Modern design,” Suvalsky says. His affinity for the style was formed in part from his childhood days watching great television sitcoms. “I remember loving the way the interiors looked” in shows like I Love Lucy, Bewitched and The Brady Bunch. “While I wanted to bring in an element of that, I also appreciate an eclectic mix of more modern touches and occasionally some much older ones.” Overall, “I wanted the house to feel warm, fun, inviting and balanced room to room, while not being too minimalist or repeating the same feeling or color scheme.”
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