Color it Modern

An open design and bold hues give a short hills colonial an up-to-date feel.



Design by Sharon Drazin 
Photography by Victor Wahby 

Ideally situated for basking in the warmth of a redesigned fireplace, these gold accent chairs brighten the living room’s soft gray hues.

GRAYS ARE ALL THE RAGE THESE DAYS FOR MODERN MAKEOVERS, but one couple wanted to give each room of their colonial-style home in Short Hills a lot more oomph.

Happily, one of their favorite colors is cobalt blue. Designer Sharon Draznin of Sharon Draznin Interiors in Short Hills sprinkled cobalt throughout much of the house and teamed it with other vibrant accent colors such as gold and purple—no sleepy style here!

“It was all about the use of colors,” says Draznin of the home’s dramatic transformation.

Still, gray had its place. The makeover relied heavily on gray not only as a base, but also in various shades, which in itself created visual interest, including the floors that went from medium wood tone to a light gray stain.

But the real eye-opener, of course, was the creative use of brilliant and bright sidekicks, like the living room’s gold accent chairs.

“Sharon found these chairs, and we had to have them!” the homeowner says. “The color is amazing and fun.”

What this career couple in their 30s learned about creating a modern masterpiece was something that could fit right in with many homes.

“There’s a real sense of flow to the rooms now,” says the well-pleased homeowner. “The colors are all incorporated throughout the house, and each room still has its individual style.”

A highlight is the dining room table with its curved acrylic base and lacquer finish and cobalt-blue chairs covered in washable vinyl. (That covering was undoubtedly the course of wisdom for a family with three children, ranging in age from 7 months to 6 years.)

Previously, the room—now come to life with bold geometric print wallpaper— had a heavy feel with gold drapery, cherry brown furniture and a brass chandelier.

In the redesigned family room, an area rug bursting with purple, cobalt blue and navy was what started the design ball rolling. The designer stripped off the cedar paneling from the walls and did an about-face from the previous red-and-green plaid fabrics that had no place in modern decor.

A crisp white bookcase is the perfect place to effortlessly introduce some of the home’s chosen accent colors—blue and gold.

This purple and blue rug served as the inspiration for the family room’s color scheme, which the decorative pillows playfully echo.

Now their color scheme would be dictated by the rug.

As the homeowner explains, she had fallen in love with this rug years ago, but it hardly fit in with her New York City lifestyle. She never forgot it, and when Short Hills provided the right showcase for her heartthrob, she not only purchased it, but also made it the star of her family room. It’s not uncommon for families to design a room around a favorite piece, be it a rug, a piece of artwork or a furniture item, according to Draznin.

“Young people send me pictures from Houzz or Instagram,” Draznin says, adding that it’s a nice way to get a pulse on the clients’ design tastes and preferences.

To truly appreciate what was done to this Short Hills colonial requires going back two and a half years to when the family purchased it—but only after first inviting their designer to tour the place and give some feedback. Basically, they needed to know if a very traditional home could walk on the wild side as a contemporary.

“We needed to lighten it up and give it a fun, young vibe,” says Draznin, noting that the whole feeling of the house—from colors to fabrics—was stuck in yesteryear. It was tough for the couple to see past the gold and red colors, damask prints, heavy drapery and Venetian plaster walls to the diamond in the rough that was right in front of them.

“Luckily, Sharon came to see it before we bought it,” says the homeowner. “She immediately gave us the vision that we could work with.”

As young families are drawn to Short Hills for what the homeowner calls the “perfect commute,” the town is undergoing a transformation from traditional homes to those with a modern flair, says Draznin.

The acrylic base of this lacquer dining room table screams contemporary, where once drapery and cherry-wood furniture created a more traditional look. Opposite: This bold, bright mirror is the ideal match for the family’s thoroughly modern dining room.

4 Tips for Being Color-Savvy

Designer Sharon Draznin offers these bits of wisdom about ways to use hues:

It's Playtime: Play your color off the type of gray that is your base. For instance, a bluish gray paint opens the door to a wide variety of cobalt blue accents, while a brown gray might be better teamed with mauve.
Dazzling, Not Dull: Let accent colors do their job and don’t settle for the monotony of an entirely gray room.
Open to New Things: Rip down some walls where possible (as the couple did in the accompanying main article) to create the open, airy atmosphere that rules today.
Get Creative: Your accent colors can be found anywhere in your room’s décor. Have fun hunting down the best accents and let your home truly stand out.

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