Designer Christina Kim had her eye on this 1958 home for years. “I actually went to look at this house to buy nearly 15 years ago but ultimately decided it was too much of a renovation project to take on for my growing family,” she recalls. “Serendipitously, the new homeowners, a professional couple with grown children, approached me to redesign their home.”

The house is set in the woods close to hiking trails and wildlife, but a few minutes from the beach, and a quick ferry ride into Manhattan. “The best of all worlds,” Christina shares. “The design brief was basically a cosmetic facelift and to bring minimalist comfort and layers to the space. The home was renovated just prior to my clients purchasing the home but they were looking to make some meaningful changes. The scope included a budget friendly kitchen refresh, redesign of a couple of fireplaces, custom built-ins, and freshening up the landscaping and exterior of the home.”

The most dramatic change was in the kitchen, which had wood cabinets with a dark orange undertone, lime green subway tile, and an ill-proportioned range hood. “Since our clients planned to stay in the home only a few years (either to rebuild a dream home or move), we agreed that having the cabinets repainted would be the best option to brighten up and elevate this kitchen,” Christina says. They swapped the lime green tile for a soft white subway tile with organic imperfections and ran it in a horizontal stack as a nod to the home’s mid-century roots. They also designed a range hood with gentle proportions and removed the upper cabinets, opting instead for open shelving.

In the living room, Christina designed a new fireplace clad in a honey-colored travertine, softening the entire room. “We added a pair of dramatic amber colored vintage Murano glass sconces and some architectural art for a pop of energy,” she says. There’s also a built-in bench with open shelving to display art, books, and a collection of Japanese pottery. “The sunken living room felt unique and true to the period; however, it needed a division from the foyer. Instead of installing a railing, we created separation by installing a slatted wall. It was a fun way to solve the problem as well as add architectural interest while keeping things airy,” she shares. 

In the primary bedroom, Christina created a sanctuary of soft fabrics, including a wool and alpaca rug by L&M Custom Carpets. “It’s light and airy by day, and the perfect nest for the best night of sleep thanks to perfect light control via black out Hartmann and Forbes shades and draperies made with black out lined Romo fabric,” she says.

Though her firm is on the East Coast, Christina’s work is heavily influenced by a West Coast sensibility.  “They immediately liked my warm, modern approach to coastal properties,” she says. “The final result is a breezy, peaceful, California (yet New Jersey coast) cool, relaxed, and modern home. At first, the homeowners planned to stay here for only 5 years. However, they were so happy with the outcome that they are now reconsidering it as a forever home.”

Living room leather arm strap chairs and primary bedroom chair by Verellen
Living sofa and family sectional by Moss Home
Living room pillow fabrics (all except striped pillow) by Designs of the Time
Living room and Primary bedroom rugs by L&M Custom Carpets
Fireplace stone fabrication by Oceana Designs