Expanding their home to begin a new chapter, a mother and son get the kitchen of their dreams and a spacious family room.
It wasn’t the “seven-year itch ” exactly, but something like that. TV producer and area resident Alexandra Cohen had grown a bit impatient with the home she shared with her son Lucas, now 10. She began to consider expanding their three-unit duplex—and giving the place a decorative facelift to boot. Having worked with New Jersey-based interior designer Eric Schmidt on her original design, Cohen didn’t hesitate to approach him again.
“When I first met Alexandra, she was a young mother, busy raising a child and not doing much entertaining,” says Schmidt. “Now, years later, she wanted to have more of a real home.”
In a serendipitous twist of fate, a one-bedroom apartment opened up on the floor where Cohen’s two bottom units were located. It became the perfect solution.
The original apartment consisted of two combined units facing north, with stairs on the left unit leading up to the master suite on the top floor. Adding the south-facing one-bedroom unit gave the family the chance to add a spacious kitchen, a family room, a coveted guest bedroom and a balcony. To assure a sense of flow on the main floor, Cohen purchased the extra hallway space between the units. That allowed Schmidt to create a welcoming entry foyer with views into the living room on the left, the son’s bedroom and the study to the right, and the kitchen and family room to the east and southeast.
With the new 2,100-square-foot layout in place, Schmidt set to work. For the entry foyer, the designer instilled a feeling of intimacy by lowering the ceiling and painting the walls a warm tan color to separate the space from the palette of ivory, beige and creams seen throughout the rest of the main floor. Wood paneling was added to frame the space and enhance the impression of being in a cozy jewel box.
For entertaining visitors not of the pint-sized variety, Schmidt designed large-scale custom furniture for the living room, including a nine-foot-long chenille sofa that he paired with plush velvet club chairs and a wool-and-silk carpet. In keeping with the soaring 11-foot-high ceilings, the designer created a monolithic fireplace covered in slabs of Crema Marfil that shimmer with the light. The spiral staircase that leads straight to the homeowner’s private sanctuary— the master suite—was revamped with oak treads banded in stainless steel and a leather-wrapped handrail.
In the bedroom, a large custom oak canopy bed takes center stage. A pale lavender on the walls pulls up the grays seen throughout the room and softens the space. “Everything downstairs was very earthy and monochromatic,” says Schmidt. “Here, lavender bergen is a soothing color with a wonderful neutral feel.” It also beautifully offsets the marble fireplace, light oak cabinetry and multiple closets custom-designed for the space. “The room feels like a five-star hotel,” says Cohen. And that luxe effect is enhanced by the en-suite bathroom, with a freestanding tub, a steam shower and gray-veined stones that create a glamorous, spa-like feel.
Downstairs, Lucas’ room also received the royal treatment, with a custom “fort” bunk bed with a built-in desk. Next door, Cohen’s new study was given a custom desk and striking raked limestone painstakingly cut into a herringbone pattern on the fireplace wall.
The heart of the home, though, became the new kitchen and the combined family/dining room, which Schmidt outfitted with plenty of seating, including a custom sectional. “The kitchen is to die for,” says Cohen. “We are in there all the time.” From the custom, cream-colored lacquer cabinetry to the natural walnut media cabinet to the mother-of-pearl backsplash, it’s the perfect mixture of comfort and luxury. And when there aren’t guests? There’s no better way to start your morning than with a coffee on the family room’s connecting balcony overlooking the building’s tree-filled courtyard.