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 Tina Ramchandani to learn more about her creative process in designing the Master suite in residence 801 for this project.
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Tina Ramchandani: I joined the team of designers at the end of October and so I had about 5 months to design and install the space. The development was under construction, so we were able to customize elements in the space as we designed. We added a wall-to-wall bookcase and designed a built-in bar inside one of the closets, both of which were key to our design vision.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Tina: Because I joined the project later than other designers, I had to make quick decisions in regards to bathroom design, fixtures and vanity. I was under pressure to select the right elements without having the time to fully create a vision for the space. I selected neutral colors and textures, so ensure the bathroom would complement anything creating in the Master Suite. Mediterranean Tile and GPS were amazing, and helped me understand all my choices and make great decisions. I love the way the bathroom came together!
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Tina: When I first visited the job site it was the end of fall, and the space was still very raw. I wanted to create a warm, comfortable and cozy Master Suite. I wanted the spaces to feel like the visitor had entered a space that could provide reprieve and warmth.
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Tina: I don’t often get the chance to create dark and moody environments. Most clients want bright white or bright colorful homes. I really enjoy working with deep hues, and when I found the Menaggio wallpaper pattern from S. Harris I knew I had to use it. I was torn between the color Twilight, which we ended up using, and the more maroon Cardamom color. After a lot of back and forth I decided to go all in with the blues and greys!
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?
Tina: It was a completely individual process! After my color tones and wallpaper had been chosen, I learned that the other designers in my house were designing in the same tones. It worked out well, as our home has a nice flow from entrance to exit.
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?
Tina: I don’t typically choose spaces based on size, but based on other elements like natural light, molding, wall type (brick in my case!), fireplaces, etc. Each has it’s own difficulty – smaller spaces require designers to think outside of the box, and design with extreme intention. Larger spaces, however, need to be filled and although I prefer a minimal style, large spaces need to be filled without feeling meaningless and overstuffed. I prefer each element in my homes and showhouse spaces to be designed with a purpose.
aspire: Describe the town of Bernardsville in one sentence.
Tina: I see Bernardsville as a small, beautiful town with a rich culture.
This or That?
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
Tina: Both! You need rug on the hardwood!
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Tina: Black and White
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Tina: Week of Broadway Shows
Photography by Lisa Russman.
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