Ali Vivoda thought the design of this Westfield, NJ house would be an uphill battle. The clients—a successful couple and their three children—first reached out to her eponymous design studio four years ago. “The wife came to me and said, ‘You’re going to hate working with me; I only want to pick out white pillows from Pottery Barn,’” Ali recalls. “That hasn’t been the case at all! She’s been so open to ideas, creativity, and collaboration, and it’s been fantastic. From white pillows to a completely monotone blue room…I’ll take it!”
The house is in the highly desirable Wychwood Manor neighborhood, which boasts traditional Georgian, Dutch colonial, Tudor, and Mission-style architectural gems. “The house was originally built in 1950, but it had undergone an ‘interesting’ renovation in around 2004,” Ali tells us. “And the prior owner opted for some pretty flamboyant design choices. Think, rococo meets silk drapery meets floral wallpaper.” Needless to say, thoughtful updates were needed. “We knew we wanted to keep the floor plan the same, being that the house has this traditional footprint. As always, staying true to the style of the house was important. Nothing too trendy. Nothing too over the top. Classic, timeless. Elegant.”
Over the next two years, the house was updated in stages—furnishing the formal living room, family room, dining room, home office, playroom, and entry. “We’re lucky that when the previous owners did their renovations in the early 2000s, they did not touch the original moldings and millwork,” Ali says. “We maintained those details and gave them new life. I think we brought their beauty out with historical colors like the creamy ivory paint in the kitchen and the muted blue in the formal living area.”
For furnishings, keeping things family friendly (AKA stain-and-spill-proof) was key. She says her favorite room is the dining room. “It kind of screams ‘quiet luxury.’ While it’s subtle, we chose to wallpaper the upper portion of the walls with classic Phillip Jeffries paper to give the room some texture,” the designer explains. “It’s features like this that make the house a little extra special and give it so much character. It also features the now infamous Nickey Kehoe String Lantern pendant, and the most comfortable (stain-proof) chairs from McGuire. We waited months and months and months for the mirror and dining table to come in, but both were well worth it.”
The kitchen renovation was the final piece of the puzzle…for now. “There is a second floor of the home and a basement,” Ali shares. “That will (hopefully!) be part of phase 2 of this project, which includes a primary suite that I cannot wait to get my hands on!”
Take a tour in the slideshow.