N.J. home makeover

N.J. home makeover: An interior designer transforms a grand living room.

By Kimberly L. Jackson | For The Star-Ledger 
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on October 23, 2015 at 12:00 PM,

There’s grandeur in a room with soaring ceilings, but in a home, these impressive spaces can feel cavernous and overwhelming to decorate.

Ringwood interior designer Cozette Brown faced such a challenge when she was hired to prepare a 3,100-square-foot, 3-bedroom townhouse for clients who were moving to Denville from another state.

“The home was larger than my clients anticipated,” said Brown, who was charged with selecting living room furniture, window treatments and a paint color that would enhance the retired couple’s treasured possessions, including art and antiques.

A real estate agent’s listing photo of the previous owners’ pale-colored decor struck her as cold in the towering living room.

“When I first got the picture, I felt like I was looking at a hotel lobby,” she said. “It didn’t feel intimate.” Her clients envisioned an area for gathering with their guests that would be inviting, but not overly ornate. They wanted cozy but sufficiently formal.


The makeover:

The house was built in 2006, so the kitchen, two bathrooms and powder room did not need an update. Brown was also able to work with the existing bedroom carpeting and the white blinds that covered many windows.

She began by bringing warmth into the living room, guided by colors in a large oriental rug. Her clients, who were living in a rental pending closing on their new home, had had the wool rug since they were married many years earlier, Brown said.

“It was extremely sentimental, good quality and they love it,” she said. “So, that was my starting point for the whole room.”

They selected furniture in woods with a deep walnut finish — an oversized round coffee table and a display cabinet with geometric fretwork over its glass door panels. Textural warmth came with a sofa wrapped in supple velvet upholstery with a golden brown “cognac” color. “I wanted to pull out the colors in the rug that would be the most timeless,” Brown said.

Three of the room’s walls had windows, so special attention was given to the wall without them. “I needed the taller pieces to create a balance because of that left side wall being so tall and so empty,” said Brown, noting that the room’s floor plan helps manage its scale. The large, round coffee table visually counteracts the room’s angles.

The walls are painted in the Sherwin-Williams neutral Ivoire, which has a creamy yellow undertone that unifies the interior, complementing furnishings in living room, dining room and a second-floor office loft. “I had to have a color that would go with all those spaces.” It couldn’t be tan or beige,” which the owners disliked, she said.

On the wall with two sets of windows, the couple opted to keep the top windows covered with only white blinds. Brown set the drapery rods higher in the space between the windows to visually break up the space.

“The window treatments are hung higher to bring the room a warmer feel,” she said. “It isn’t as empty feeling.” The draperies The room’s custom-made window treatments have metallic gold plaid on a vanilla-white background. “That plaid just kind of pulled the whole room together,” Brown said of the focal-point draperies that bring the eye down and help even out the room’s proportions. They also were a significant investment.

“In that particular room, there’s 30 yards of fabric,” Brown said. “Fabric alone can cost anywhere from $60 a yard to $200 a yard, so you’re talking $3,000 without even blinking, and that’s without labor or hardware.”


Who did the work?

Cozette Brown Interior Design managed the project and selected the various elements.

How her clients found her

They used the website of the New Jersey chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers to search for local designers and interviewed several before hiring brown.

How long it took

February through July 2014

How much it cost


Where they splurged

Custom-made window treatments and new furniture

How they saved

“The clients had an amazing collection of artwork and a beautiful oriental rug, which helped stretch their budget,” Brown said.