Virginia Toledo and Jessica Geller are the dynamic duo behind established East Coast boutique design firm, Toledo Geller. They specialize in luxurious interiors, creating turn-key, custom residences for clients who value exceptional design.
At first, the homeowners of this Livingson, NJ home didn’t realize how much they needed Toledo Geller — a thoughtful design update could truly transform their lives at home. The couple, parents to identical twin 11-year-old boys, had purchased this as a starter home in 2011. They were unhappy with the look from the get-go and since they never envisioned staying there, brought in generic furniture to fill the space. “Because they weren’t sure if they would be staying long term or not, the owners got stuck in that limbo zone where they could enhance their living situation but weren’t sure they’d want to invest in the project and redesign,” Virginia tells us.
Eventually, they realized they wanted the house to be a place they were proud of and enjoyed being. “They didn’t spend much time in their living space before because they weren’t comfortable or happy with it. They spent most of their time in the kitchen or upstairs in a small den. They wanted us to help them change the way that they used the spaces so that they would make more use of the living and dining rooms,” Jessica recalls.
The clients said they wanted a modern, cozy, and fun home that was bright and airy — specifically, “Southern California Newport Beach meets Hampton’s meets sleek NYC, all while in the context of Northern Suburban New Jersey, mind you,” Virginia says. “A tall order that we were excited to tackle!”
The old dark flooring was removed in favor of a lighter, wide-plank option, which alone transformed the space. Next, the designers flipped the orientation of the living space, removing a formal dining room in favor of a bar that would encourage the family to entertain more frequently. The space is quite long and narrow, which made it hard to find the perfect layout. They created a two-zone seating plan, merged by a custom-designed daybed, and relocated the dining room to be fireside. The television proved to be a design challenge. “To accommodate the television in our new living room zone, we designed a partition that ‘floats’ in the space,” Jessica explains. “It is a bit unconventional and had to be placed precisely for perfect flow, so we admittedly held our breath a bit during the construction phase, but correctly measuring and assessing it all a few times, had us nail it.”
For furniture, they stuck with a mostly neutral palette, reaching for twin-friendly performance fabrics like Crypton for durability and easy clean up. “Also,” Virginia laughs, “dad has been known to fall asleep on the sofa with a glass of red wine in his hand – no joke!”
The pair is aware that though they see any design project with fresh eyes, when a homeowner has been living in a space for nearly a decade, all of the changes can be a massive deal. “It’s a huge adjustment to make a switch that is that impactful to the way they have been living,” Jessica says. “We can’t do our job well if the architecture doesn’t support the function of a room, which is why we start every project with an eye toward problem-solving.” In the case of this home makeover, problems were definitely solved! “They were thrilled with the results, and after waiting almost ten years to take on the transformation, they ultimately felt like it was worth the wait,” Virginia concludes. “At the big reveal, they told us that they thought the family would all be fighting over the daybed, and sure enough, the next morning, she sent us a photo of the twins lounging together on it.”