Passionate collectors, the homeowners of this stately country house in Franklin Lakes share their love of antiques, art and collecting with Fritz Krieger, a Nyack, N.Y.-based architectural designer who once designed a dressing room for Grace Kelly. Tackling one room at a time, Krieger takes an unexpected approach.
"Decorating a home should be an adventure," he says. "I call it search and discovery. We find things and then decide where to use them. It's an unscheduled flight. We never know what we're going to find."
Krieger drew on the architectural style of early 20th-century architect John Russell Pope to design the home, creating spaces with light-filled rooms, French doors and high ceilings that would be "a testament to the joy of living with art."
Photography by Stephen Garey
Music Room (photo 1)
Taking its color cue from the antique jade-colored marble fireplace surround, which was reclaimed from a Buenos Aires estate, the home's elegant music room features walls in a pale striped celadon, accented by generous silk panels in a subtle Cowtan & Tout bronze and celadon stripe paired with a natural handkerchief linen tie-back under-curtain bordered by a deep beige grosgrain border. Flanking the fireplace is a pair of ornamental gold-leaf carved cartouches that once graced the doorway of an 18th century Italian estate. "They are very elaborately done and create lots of movement in the room," says Krieger, who set them on clear plexiglass bases so that "they almost float off the floor." An asymmetrical Regency-style sofa from the turn of the century is covered in its original gold silk. Over the mantel, he set a 1920s oil painting by renowned American portrait painter DeWitt McClellan Lockman.
Library (photo 2)
A comfortable, cozy glow imbues the walnut-paneled library, where an antique Persian Tabriz area rug sets the tone for a palette of rich reds and blues. Above the mantel, a turn-of-the-century portrait of a woman playing the tambourine adds an unexpected twist. "The client imagined something totally different – a stalwart male subject – but when we found this magnificent, translucently painted woman dressed in gossamer attire, we knew it was just right for the library," Krieger says. A deep club chair by Lee Jofa features raised striping accented by a Greek key design. At the windows, Lee Jofa silk check panels in blue and deep red hang from heavy bronze rods.
Dining Room (photo 3)
Inspired by the robin's egg blue walls of The Frick Collection's Boucher Room, this elegant space was designed to showcase four panels from a decorative folding screen acquired at an Englewood auction. Each panel features elaborately painted urns and cabbage roses in the spirit of the Rococo artist François Boucher. An antique French Aubusson rug accented by pale flowers, roses and medallions in shades of blue, faded gold and beige makes a soft, subtle statement. "It was probably in one of the great country houses in France," Krieger says of its circa-1890 provenance. At the window, striped silk panels by Lee Jofa are simple yet elegant, drawing the eye to the classical antique bronze Greco-Roman sculpture of a young man. The mahogany dining table by Louis-Philippe is complemented by Hepplewhite shield-back chairs, also in mahogany. To the left of the window, a late 19th-century recamiér sofa covered in a silk embroidered fabric by Lee Jofa and a mid-Empire crystal and bronze chandelier add touches of glamour.
Family Room (photo 4)
Inspired by the unique quality of golden light that has drawn artists to Venice for centuries, the walls of the family room are finished in a light camel Cowtan & Tout wool flannel, beautifully complementing hand-carved, glazed honey-colored pine trim and moldings. Art fills the space. Over the mantel, Krieger placed an early 20th-century Linello Balestrieri painting he discovered at an art auction in Bergen. On the opposite wall, a beautifully restored late 18th-century painting by a follower of painter Francesco Guardi depicts everyday life along Venice's Grand Canal. Adjacent, Krieger placed an early 20th-century work by the Russian Impressionist painter Konstantin Korovine. A handmade Oushak rug from Pakistan anchors the room and "takes on different colors as the light plays on it," Krieger says. At the window, plaid Lee Jofa silk panels with long bullion fringe frame an ornate 18th-century weathered gold-leaf carved swan that was once the prow of a Venetian gondola. Another Venetian keepsake, a hand-carved gondola oarlock, is set on the Chinese Chippendale coffee table. A pair of oversized pillows was fashioned from another Krieger find. "We discovered this fabulous 1940s dress silk with big hydrangeas in a remnant store," he recalls. Large club chairs and a classic tuxedo-style sofa, both in Lee Jofa fabric, finish the space.
Entry (photo 5)
With its artwork, sculpture and patterned limestone floor, the home's spacious entryway evokes the atmosphere of a museum. A 17th-century Venetian angel, with traces of gesso paint still evident, is the focal point and, interestingly, was the room's finishing touch. "The piece took 10 years to find and really sets the mood in the space," Krieger says. "It has an elegant, soulful quality to it." A Bradley and Hubbard bronze and crystal chandelier, which once hung in the Toy Building on Fifth Avenue in New York City, complements the curvilinear iron balcony railings hand-finished to look like pewter. A watercolor by the 20th-century Hungarian artist Marcel Vertes adds "a contemporary note of contrast and zip."
Master Bath (photo 6)
A fanciful 1940s pastel by a South American artist, Krieger says, makes a major design statement and "is outrageous for a bathroom, but why not?" The work is one-and-a-half times life-size and has an antique frame that echoes the silver-gold shimmer of the painting. Krieger repurposed a heavily carved antique credenza into a double vanity, adding a Calacatta Gold marble top and glazing the piece in a soft shade of sea foam green. Above, an antique baroque mirror of gilt and a deeper shade of sea foam appears to float over a mirrored wall. Lee Jofa wallpaper featuring cabbage roses and a basket-style bronze and crystal chandelier complete the space.