This waterfront home in Brick, NJ has an interesting history. It was built in the 1990s by a couple with a shared love of old houses. They met on a ski slope in Vermont, fell in love, and eventually hired architect Rolf Kielman to take a 200-year-old post and beam house from Vermont and combine it with a more contemporary structure all under one roof to create something wholly unique. The timbers were left exposed, offering a view of post and beams from almost every vantage point.

The new owner is, as her interior designer Christina Kim describes her, “a bit of a bad ass.” She’s a mom to three young girls and is a competitive Muay Thai fighter. Though she lives in Bermuda full time, she also calls this hidden gem home. Though she’s often back and forth between the two very different environments, she wanted her place in Brick to be a comfortable place for her family. Christina tells us a bit about the project:

What was the design direction you were given at the project’s start? Any particular things that your client wanted?
Honestly, I was given very little design direction! There was a lot of trust from the get-go. We met with the client twice in person before we delivered a fully furnished, fully realized home in time for summer. The house has so much soul, which is obvious from the minute you walk through the door that we were just asked to do it justice, not veer too modern with the furnishings and really just interpret this special house for our client.

Let’s talk about those furnishings! What was your vision?
My read on the client was organic, rustic and a little romantic. I wanted a softness to come through against the backdrop of all this rough hewn wood. Most important was that the furnishings did not detract from the beams and views of the water which are the real stars here. So we selected the most comfortable, down-filled sofas, designed custom headboards covered in rich Romo velvets, and kept things soft and romantic with subdued hues and fabrics with a soft hand. Nothing too fussy.

The furnishings are all covered in kid-friendly fabric and the lines are clean but soft. The zinc dining table was key. After the original table came in damaged, we hired a local craftsman to make another table on the fly. Zinc was a great option because visually it broke up the wood but it’s also extremely durable–those rooftops in Paris are made of zinc! Chic photography kept the vibe current.

The client lives full-time in Bermuda. Did that factor into the design at all?
Bermuda offers a life on the water but so does this waterfront house in New Jersey. My thought was that the residences should be as different as possible because summer is a bit of a break from life. I also loved the idea of a rustic hideaway, completely unassuming and unpretentious from the outside that is completely unique on the interior. I kept thinking “hidden gem”; I wanted you to feel bowled over once you fully stepped in, like, “Where am I?”

Were there any design risks that totally paid off?
My favorite risk was the master bedroom headboard. While the master has gorgeous views of the water from nearly every window, the walls were choppy and the only place to situate the bed was an awkward nook facing the street with three short windows. We custom designed a modern low profile velvet wraparound headboard with built-in oak nightstands. It was a risk because it is a touch modern but I love the sophistication it brings. 

How long did the project take?
From start to finish, the project took just over 4 months. The client first saw the completed home after one of those long, heinous days of travel with the kids and was beyond appreciative and happy for the lovely way to come home. Designing to completion means different things to different designers, but my firm specializes in summer homes, so to me, “completion” means the house is fully furnished, the pool is open, the candles are lit, the cabana towels are stacked, the rooms are accessorized and you can just slip into summer. Just like that…