By Tiffany Carboni
Looking at this pool house today with its wide-open kitchenette in New Vernon, NJ, it’s hard to believe it was once a decaying barn with a dirt floor. Yet that’s how interior designer Katja van der Loo, principal of Papyrus Home Design, and architect Arturo Palombo of Arturo Palombo Architecture found it in this long-ago cow pasture. “We rebuilt the structure, poured a new foundation and set out to give it a summer house vibe that was light, airy and indestructible to the elements—mainly parties and kids dripping in wet bathing suits,” Van der Loo explains.
The kitchenette’s warm palette, which differs from the main house’s black-and-white kitchen, emphasizes the prominent beams salvaged from the original structure and floorboards reclaimed from a nearby barn. The walls are Super White by Benjamin Moore to set off the shaker inset cabinets’ subtle pewter hue and steel pulls. The cabinet wall sets the stage for the rest of the room’s gray gradations that simultaneously contrast with the wood’s browns and draw out its grays.
The color scheme continues with countertops made up of concrete colored Silestone and a walnut inlay that serves as a cutting board across from the sink. The faucet and appliances are stainless steel to add a modern, industrial touch to the space. Appliances include a dishwasher and beverage fridge tucked within the island, a microwave inside the appliance garage, and a Liebherr refrigerator to create the perfect party pad.
What the kitchenette lacks in an oven and stove, the adjacent outdoor kitchen makes up for with its barbeque and pizza oven. Inside, there’s no lack of dining areas thanks to the three seating configurations that accommodate 18-plus people.
The stools at the island, pedestal breakfast table with chicken wire chairs, cowhide rug, and dining table matched with Lucite chairs were sourced from a variety of Van der Loo’s favorite shops. “When creating a space that needs to be a combination of modern and rustic, it’s important to choose furnishings that aren’t too much of either extreme, especially on the rustic side because it can look too kitsch,” she notes. “I was careful to pick items that could ride that line and be fun conversation pieces.”
The pearlescent mosaic backsplash from Mediterranean Tile & Marble also accomplishes that goal, and, as the designer explains, “provides the opportunity to glam things up amidst the simple, neutral tones.”
Funny what a pile of wood atop an old cow pasture can turn into. It just takes the right team of creative minds to make it look and feel this hospitable.