Are you a designer? Join our Trade program
Deep Dive

The Cozy Living Areas in This New Jersey Farmhouse Bring the Whole Family Together

Words by Olivia Lidbury
a living room filled with furniture and a fire place

Photography by Nicole Franzen; Design by Ursino Interiors

For vintage lover Maureen Ursino, working with a client’s heirlooms collection is a joy.

“It's hard to replicate the feeling that vintage brings with a new piece of furniture,” muses Maureen, the Expert behind Ursino Interiors, who is a master at blending classics alongside contemporary design.

In the case of this family of Manhattan transplants, the mom’s peripatetic childhood spanning Europe, Asia, and Australia made for a worldly outlook—and produced an array of handsome commodes and chests passed down from her family. But moving from a small city apartment to a 6,600 square-foot house in the suburbs meant a whole lot of blanks to fill.

a dining room table with a vase of flowers on top of it
a chair sitting in front of a window next to a mirror

Photography by Nicole Franzen; Design by Ursino Interiors

The clients’ brief to Maureen was to make the living areas—a family room dubbed the ‘great room’ with an adjacent study and a more formal lounge area—feel elegant but not stuffy, approachable and cozy, and a little elevated. The Expert wasn’t daunted by the rooms’ generous proportions, nor the need to make everything kid-friendly. A case in point: the 13-foot-long sectional is inviting to everyone of all ages.

The project: A 1930s farmhouse, extended over time

The location: Rumson, New Jersey

The room: The formal and casual living rooms, plus a study

The client: A couple with three young children

a living room filled with furniture and a stair case

Photography by Nicole Franzen; Design by Ursino Interiors

a white rug with a white border around it
ArmadilloAspen RugSHOP NOW
three wooden tables sitting on top of each other
Christian WooTrifecta TablesINQUIRE

The biggest problem to solve

The house has an immediate energy to it which feels so cozy and homely, but the angular fireplaces just felt out of place and didn’t echo the softness of the rooms. The clients weren’t up for a rip-out, so we addressed balancing the linear features with soft edges and curved forms. Circular coffee tables and a wavy wall mirror helped contradict the harshness of the mantel lines.

The item that started it all

The client’s tall Austrian chest in oak which belonged to her mother provided a really beautiful and soulful anchor in the family room. It’s such a heavy and imposing piece. From that, we figured out how to enhance the space with lighter, more modern objects.

a dining room with a table and chairs

Photography by Nicole Franzen; Design by Ursino Interiors

a wooden chair sitting on top of a wooden floor
The Expert VintageSet of 4 Danish Pine Dining ChairsEditor's PickSHOP NOW

Something vintage…

In the corner of the great room is a pine table which the kids use for games and puzzles. It’s a Swedish design from the 1970s; I love its Brutalist aesthetic and the masculinity of the chairs. The French provincial armchair in the formal living was another of the client’s cherished pieces, so we reupholstered it in a plaid fabric to mix the old with the new for their life in the country.

The splurge and steal

I found the little bobbin accent table on Etsy, and love how it can be easily moved around. The pair of sofas next to it were a splurge, but they are perfectly proportioned for the room and covered in Designs of the Time linen.

a white couch sitting in a living room next to a window
a living room filled with furniture and a fire place

Photography by Nicole Franzen; Design by Ursino Interiors

a wall light with a white shade on it
Urban ElectricNyhavn SconceINQUIRE
a gray and white checkered fabric
Abraham Moon & Sons"Hawes" FabricINQUIRE
a round wooden table with two legs
Nickey KehoeRound Coffee TableSHOP NOW

The biggest learning

Linking the property’s newer additions to the original farmhouse and making it feel cohesive was a puzzle. Cladding the ceilings in oak helped create a warmth similar to what the hardwood floors provide in the oldest part of the house.

The design risk with the biggest payoff

The clients were apprehensive about painting the window and skirting trims in the study but they were happy once they saw the end. It’s a gorgeous cappuccino shade which helps the room feel like more of a restful retreat, and it’s different from the larger spaces.

a desk with two stools and a lamp
a bedroom with a bed, bookshelf and a picture on the wall

Photography by Nicole Franzen; Design by Ursino Interiors

a table lamp with a wooden base and a beige shade
Roll & HillThe LaddiSHOP NOW
a white and black striped rug with black stripes
Kravet“Karphi Stripe” FabricINQUIRE

The little detail with a big impact

The contrast piping on the huge sofa helped to make it feel less linear. The fabric is a dark shade of brown, and the contrast of the light gray provides that little pop.

I really had to sell my clients on…

The daybed nook in the great room took a little bit of convincing. It’s right next to a fireplace which has a TV above it, and was just a white cut-out in the wall. Closing it up would have made the wall feel overly long, but they had a hard time visualizing it in oak alongside the cladded ceiling. They wanted to paint it the same shade as the walls, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as cocooning. I chose a performance fabric for the seat pad, so the kids can curl up or eat there and not have to worry about stains. Now they love it.

a dining room with a table and chairs

Photography by Nicole Franzen; Design by Ursino Interiors

a chandelier with three lights hanging from it
Lindsey AdelmanBranching Bubbles ChandelierINQUIRE
a light that is on the side of a wall
WorksteadHelios ADA SconceSHOP NOW

Why this space works so well

It functions really well for the family—everyone can be together and see each other, but do their own thing if they want to: mom and dad can be sitting on the sofa, and the kids can be playing at the table. The materiality of mixing antiques with new pieces also really brings the different zones to life.

The final vibe

Warm, balanced, and collected.

Want personalized design advice from Ursino Interiors?
Book a consultation