Years of living in apartments shaped the look and feel of this modern farmhouse style home in Bergen County, New Jersey. The four-bed new-build house, one of the world's best homes, couldn't be more different to its single-story predecessors. While the apartments had been all dark wood and sleek smart furnishings, this Bergen County family home is light, bright and relaxed. It's the perfect backdrop for family life and also for entertaining friends and family.
And that's exactly what its owner, designer Melissa Gonzalez, had in mind. Melissa is the principal of international architecture and design firm MG2 (opens in new tab), and founder of The Lionesque Group (opens in new tab). For more than a decade she has been designing pop-up experiences and stores for her clients. Her office is in Manhattan, easily accessible from her new family home in Bergen County.
Melissa wanted to create good circular flow and an organic energy in the family's new home. High ceilings, attractive indoor/outdoor spaces and the en-suite bathrooms were all part of the new living space. She also wanted a special bedroom for her daughter and plenty of spaces where she could play.
However, achieving this easy-going, relaxed look was anything but easy, as Melissa explains. 'We were building in the middle of Covid, and so of course we had to navigate supply chain issues and the close of our house was almost delayed because we had such a hard time getting an electrical panel,' recalls Melissa. Her perseverance and patience paid off because in the space of just a year the house was finished and the family moved in.
Melissa's kitchen ideas for the large open kitchen and eating area include lime-washed white oak wood planks and other natural elements. It’s neutral, but for the custom-made island’s pop of blue. The island top is a veiny blue marble, to provide a visual link with the blue cabinetry below and around the kitchen. The three lights over the kitchen island are from one of Melissa's retail clients, Kathy Kuo Home.
The appliances, including the stovetop, two wall ovens, and refrigerator are by JennAir.
Family dining kitchen
It's the perfect space for cooking with family and friends and Melissa and her husband and daughter eat at this table every day. She picked out a particularly kid-friendly bench for one side of the table, chosen especially for her daughter and nieces.
Formal living room
Living room ideas in the formal living room are very much in tune with the contemporary modern farmhouse aesthetic that Melissa envisioned for the house. The earth-toned palette is warm greens, browns, neutrals, and brushed gold, but the pieces are more modern and glamorous than in the other spaces.
'The seating in the formal living room is curvy and a little sexy,' says Melissa. 'This room has become our “salon” so-to-speak, where we have a vintage record player and photo galleries of some of our favorite musicians.'
The sofa and chairs are Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
Formal dining room
Anyone looking for formal dining room ideas will find plenty of inspiration in this smart space. The energy in the formal dining room matches that of the formal living room, where earthy tones swing to modern. The table and pendant lamp are from RH. Photo collages are by Portuguese artist and friend Chiara Mecozzi.
There is a through view into the butler's pantry on the right, which leads to the kitchen, and has a hint of deep blue, linking with the kitchen island and cabinetry.
Family living room
For this family space, living room ideas needed to be more relaxed and full of everyday comforts.
'The family room is where we get cozy together,' says Melissa. It's the trio's inner sanctum and has a relaxing calm you'll see repeated in the bedroom.
As you move through the house into these family areas, the look is warmer and cozier. The neutral and earth-toned colors and textures are soothing and the look encompasses a centralized fireplace, linen shades, leather coffee table, basketweave magazine rack, and framed photos of family and friends.
Looking for bedroom ideas? Take inspiration from Melissa's primary bedroom set-up. It's a place of calm and relaxation with an earthy neutral palette. The walls are painted in two hues by Benjamin Moore, which give the room added dimensionality. The back wall, 'Intrigue' is a deep green while the other walls are the lighter 'Iced Marble' shade.
The ceiling pendant is from one of Melissa’s favorite interior designers, Kelly Wearstler. The artwork over the bed is sourced from a designer on Etsy and the bedding is from the home goods brand The Citizenry, a client of Melissa's.
'I love having a story behind the pieces in my home,' says Melissa. 'I have an emotional connection to this pair of white chaises, from our client Burrow.'
Indeed, Melissa is always looking for ways to be supportive of entrepreneurs and asked Lauren Amoruso, a new residential interior designer, to be her assistant and help with some final touches in the bedroom, including the bedside table and lamps, which complete the organic and earthy feel.
This room for Melissa's young daughter has been designed to grow with her into her preteens and teens. Melissa wanted to create a soft, feminine energy for the space. The back wall features The Fairy Mural from Monique Lhuillier/Pottery Barn Kids and there's a cloudlike West Elm light fixture over the bed.
Key to Melissa's bathroom ideas for the primary en suite were creating a calming energy and an organic flow from the bedroom. To ensure that flow, the color scheme is primarily white and gray with natural wood tones. An oversized barn door connects the bedroom to the bathroom. The artwork was bought at a street market in Croatia. Melissa likes to find interesting, inexpensive artwork on her travels and adds distinctive frames when she returns home to elevate their presence.
Building and fitting out the home during Covid did have some impact on Melissa's choices, as she explains.
'The tub in the bathroom, was not the tub that we specified. The contractor called one day to tell us that if we wanted the tub we originally picked out, it would take 18 months,' says Melissa. 'We made another selection!' The bath she chose was similar in size to the original, but the shape is slightly different.
Despite the setbacks with Covid during the build, Melissa is delighted with the end result.
'Our new home is exactly what I envisioned,' she says. 'Every decision we made was done with care and consideration.
'As we settle in, so does our home, literally. It will take about three more months for the foundation to set. I believe a home grows with its inhabitants. As we spend more time in each space, I know we will add new treasures and mementos from future travels, layering the new over the old.'
Karen is the houses editor for homesandgardens.com and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine, starting to write album reviews just as they switched from vinyl to CD releases. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.
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