Years of apartment living has shaped the look and feel of this modern farmhouse style home in Bergen County, New Jersey. The new-build home with four bedrooms, one of the the world’s best houses, couldn’t be more different from its single-story predecessors. While the apartments were all dark woods and sleek, manicured furnishings, this Bergen County family home is light, bright, and relaxed. It is the perfect backdrop for family life and also for entertaining friends and family.
And that’s exactly what the owner, designer Melissa Gonzalez, had in mind. Melissa is the director of the international architecture and design firm MG2 (opens in new tab)and founder of The Lionesque Group (opens in new tab). She has been designing pop-up experiences and stores for her customers for over ten years. Her office is located in Manhattan, easily accessible from her new family home in Bergen County.
Melissa wanted to create a good cycle and an organic energy in the new home of the family. High ceilings, attractive indoor and outdoor spaces and the en-suite bathrooms were all part of the new living space. She also wanted a special bedroom for her daughter and lots of spaces for her to play.
Achieving this easy, relaxed look was anything but easy, Melissa explains. “We were building in the middle of Covid, so of course we had to deal with supply chain issues and the closure of our house was almost delayed because we had such a hard time getting an electrical panel,” Melissa recalls. Her perseverance and patience were rewarded, because in just a year the house was finished and the family moved in.
Melissa’s kitchen ideas for the large open kitchen and dining area include limed white oak planks and other natural elements. It’s neutral, but for the custom island blue pop. The island top is a veined blue marble, to create a visual link with the blue cabinets below and around the kitchen. The three lamps above the kitchen island belong to one of Melissa’s retail clients, Kathy Kuo Home.
The appliances, including the hob, two wall ovens and a fridge are from JennAir.
Family dining kitchen
It is the perfect space for cooking with family and friends and Melissa and her husband and daughter eat at this table every day. She chose a particularly child-friendly sofa for one side of the table, specially chosen for her daughter and nieces.
Formal living room
Living room ideas in the formal living room are very much in line with the contemporary modern farmhouse aesthetic that Melissa envisioned for the home. The earth tones palette is warm green, brown, neutral and brushed gold, but the pieces are more modern and glamorous than in the other spaces.
“The chairs in the formal living room are round and a bit sexy,” says Melissa. “This room has become our ‘parlor’, so to speak, where we have a vintage record player and photo galleries of some of our favorite musicians.”
The sofa and chairs are Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
Formal dining room
Anyone looking for formal dining room ideas will find plenty of inspiration in this smart space. The energy in the formal dining room matches that of the formal living room, where earth tones alternate with modern. The table and hanging lamp are from RH. Photo collages are by Portuguese artist and friend Chiara Mecozzi.
There is a view through to the butler’s pantry on the right, leading into the kitchen, and has a touch of deep blue, which connects with the kitchen island and cabinets.
Family living room
For this family space, living room ideas had to be more relaxed and full of everyday comfort.
‘We are cozy together in the family room,’ says Melissa. It is the inner sanctuary of the trio and has a relaxing tranquility that you will see in the bedroom.
Moving around the house into these family areas makes the look warmer and cozier. The neutral and earthy colors and textures are soothing and the look includes a centralized fireplace, linen tones, leather coffee table, basketweave magazine rack and framed photos of family and friends.
Looking for bedroom ideas? Be inspired by Melissa’s primary bedroom arrangement. It is a place of calm and relaxation with an earthy neutral palette. The walls were painted in two tones by Benjamin Moore, which gives the space an extra dimension. The back wall, ‘Intrigue’, is a deep green, while the other walls are the lighter ‘Iced Marble’ shade.
The ceiling pendant is from one of Melissa’s favorite interior designers, Kelly Wearstler. The artwork above the bed is by a designer on Etsy and the bedding is from the house brand The Citizenry, a customer of Melissa.
“I love having a story behind the pieces in my house,” says Melissa. “I have an emotional connection to this pair of white chaises from our customer Burrow.”
Indeed, Melissa is always looking for ways to support entrepreneurs and asked Lauren Amoruso, a new residential interior designer, to be her assistant and help with the finishing touches to the bedroom, including the bedside table and lamps, which give the organic and earthy feel. .
This room for Melissa’s young daughter is designed for her to grow up into into her teens and teens. Melissa wanted to create a soft, feminine energy for the space. The back wall features The Fairy Mural by Monique Lhuillier/Pottery Barn Kids and there is a cloud-like West Elm lamp above the bed.
The key to Melissa’s primary bathroom ideas was to create a calming energy and organic flow from the bedroom. To ensure that flow, the color scheme is mainly white and gray with natural wood tones. An oversized barn door connects the bedroom to the bathroom. The artwork was bought at a street market in Croatia. Melissa likes to find interesting, inexpensive pieces of art during her travels and add eye-catching frames when she comes home to elevate their presence.
Building and furnishing the house during Covid did have some influence on Melissa’s choices, she explains.
“The tub in the bathroom wasn’t the tub we specified. The contractor called one day to tell us that if we wanted the tub we originally picked, it would take 18 months,” says Melissa. ‘We have made a selection again!’ The tub she chose was similar in size to the original, but the shape is slightly different.
Despite the setbacks with Covid during construction, Melissa is happy with the end result.
“Our new home is exactly what I had in mind,” she says. “Every decision we have made has been made with care and deliberation.
“When we settle in, so does our house, literally. It will take another three months for the foundation to harden. I believe that a house grows with its inhabitants. As we spend more time in each space, I know we will add new treasures and memories of future travels, layering the new over the old.”