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 Nancy Mikulich to learn more about her creative process in designing the Master suite in residence 201 for this project.
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Nancy Mikulich: I worked on the space for approximately 3 months to design, resource, procure and install/fine-tune.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Nancy: Once I had the concept of creating a warm inviting master suite that carried both masculine and feminine aesthetics, the rest of the design process fell into place. The biggest challenge was finding an appropriate paint color that was a masculine/grey-ed out blush tone. The wall that the bed was sited peaked at 14’ high was a big challenge. I created obi’s that drop from the ceiling to the floor and hanging vintage botanical prints on them were a thoughtful solution.
aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Nancy: Glazing and faux painting the architectural details to make the space feel classic, yet contemporary.
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Nancy: The view of the Somerset Hills, the view of the sky, the provenance and history of the church and the church grounds.
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Nancy: I am very familiar with the area that the property is sited, I had a pretty good idea of my direction.
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?
Nancy: Pretty individual although there always is a magic that happens. As we create our spaces we see the other designer directions and a natural inspiration and osmosis occurs.
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?
Nancy: Showhouses are always an opportunity to stretch. In this case, we were initially coached to remember that the property we are designing for was going to be largely viewed by potential real estate buyers. My approach in this showhouse was to create an aspirational yet approachable space that the potential buyer could relate to and potentially see in their own home
aspire: Describe the town of Bernardsville in one sentence.
Nancy: Bernardsville is a town that is both ancestral, guilded age, and modern.
This or That?
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Nancy: Black and white
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Nancy: Both, at the same time!!!
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Nancy: English patient on a Space odyssey.
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Photography by Lisa Russman.
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