Kelly Dunn Embodies Both Honored Heritage And New Beginnings In Bernardsville, NJ

In the Gothic-style former Parish House of Saint Bernard’s Church on Claremont Road in Bernardsville, 12 nationally- and regionally-known designers were invited by aspire design and home, to create the interiors of a 100-year-old historic building. The property—which contains 20 residences—includes the original historic structure designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in 1912.

Steve Mandel, aspire’s founder and CEO points out that Heritage at Claremont is the caliber of showhouse that is usually reserved for a major city, but the architectural importance of the original building made it a perfect choice for a designer showhouse.

In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with Kelly Dunn to learn more about her creative process in designing the Second Bedroom and Hallway in residence 801 for this project.

aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Kelly Dunn: 6 months.

aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Kelly: No big challenge. I created a story in my mind of who might live here and the design unfolded naturally.

aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Kelly: I didn’t think we would be able to put it all together in time. There were some structural hiccups in my space particularly that delayed several deliveries and installs.

aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Kelly: The bed. I immediately felt a sense of groundedness when I saw that bed and designed the space around it.

aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Kelly: This project didn’t require me to step out of my comfort zone. I try new things with every project, but that feels comfortable to me. This old building asked me to express a more grounded approach as opposed to a more daring one.

aspire: Despite the fact that there were so many designers involved, there is an inherent cohesiveness to the home. Did you all converse/collaborate? Or was this a completely individual process?
Kelly: We were amazed at how cohesive our individual designs were. At the beginning, we shared our moodboards and were delighted to see we all interpreted our designs for this space with similar grounding colors and cohesive accents. It’s very special to work with designers that see what you see.

aspire: Is your preference for a showhouse a small space or a large space? Does one or the other provide a better opportunity to stretch your creativity?
Kelly: I have no preference. Expression can be just as powerful in a small space as it is impressive in a larger one.

aspire: Describe the town of High Point in one sentence.
Kelly: Bernardsville is quaint without feeling old.

This or That?

aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
Kelly: Both
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
Kelly: Hardwood
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Kelly: Always changing my mind on this
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Kelly: Saturated color
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Kelly: Dinner
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Kelly: Midcentury
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
Kelly: Drapes
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Kelly: 2001: A Space Odyssey
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Kelly: Week of Broadway Shows

Photography by Lisa Russman.

Click Here to view more interviews with our High Point designers.

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