Alexis Goldstein is an artist by nature. A successful Director of Sales at a major digital property by day, her art hangs from the walls of her Maplewood NJ home and displays itself through the flow, fabric and distinction of her interior design. When she and her husband, Justin Goldstein, a Brooklyn-based Realtor at Halstead, set out to purchase a home, their priorities were solid bones, walk to town, classic charm and ample space, none of which they sacrificed. However the home they procured was outdated and poorly designed, obscuring its original beauty.
Once they moved in Alexis set out to make changes. Inspired by the home’s potential, (or “required” by the home’s potential, depending on the way you look at it), her creativity was called to task and Alexis became the mastermind of her own vision–the re-creation of her home.
Dictated by her skills and sensibilities, it was natural for her to both design and manage the project…but how does a working mom of two kids do such a thing?
She started by collecting her favorite things in an old-school binder and editing them organically. “I have a binder that I keep and every time I see something I love, I rip it out and punch three holes in it. I go back and take out things that I’m not interested anymore, but I’m always adding to it”. Her go-to is House & Home, a Canadian-based magazine that showcases home decor from all over North America.
The Kitchen Remodel
When the time came to redesign their kitchen and first floor, Alexis was ready. Acting more like an Ad Agency Exec. than a Digital Sales Exec. She created a mood board. “I took this big poster board and taped on cut-outs of each component that I wanted”. She could see it come together before her eyes–the wood, the cabinet color, the lighting, and a stunning marble waterfall feature for which Alexis selected an exquisitely veined marble slab. The waterfall finishes off the durable and family-friendly quartz of the countertops, and amplifies the glam factor of the room. It became a focal point in the sightline of other rooms via the open floor plan.
And how many people do you know have a glamorous lounge in their kitchen? Finishing pieces include a black velvet couch with brass legs, and a Robert Abbey bronze and bling chandelier (Alexis mixed metals and got away with it!)…
…and a rockin’ painting of Frida Kahlo. She instinctively knows the rules well enough to break them. “I don’t know, I just had the confidence that it would all work”.
Alexis uses lighting the way most of us use cocktail rings–to make a bold statement and to complete the look. “That’s my jewelry”. She pulls it off with a little ingenuity and stays on the modest side of spending. Three different shaped pendant lights hang in a cluster above her kitchen table from varying cord lengths. “So I bought those three without even seeing them. They shipped from all different parts of the country after I called many Crate and Barrel Stores. It was so annoying but worth it”. (It cost her $40!).
Alexis’ husband, Justin, designed the kitchen table. He found vintage machine legs made in Brooklyn at Olde Good Things in NYC. He attached a piece of plywood to the machine legs, used a special adhesive for marble and placed the slab on top.
Alexis’s kitchen transformation was jaw-dropping. Domino, the popular online lifestyle and interior design magazine published the before and after photos she submitted. You need to see this! The title of the post says it all: before & after: you won’t recognize this kitchen!
The Dining Room
When their home was built in 1926, the original living room was what is now their dining room. The space is grand and can easily accommodate several statement pieces that don’t compete, but rather complement each other. The chandelier has arms that stretch across the ceiling to illuminate a custom made table crafted from reclaimed wood by, who else? Justin! He took the boards off the walls in their garage to create a table that can easily fit 18 people.
“We just got regular wood from Home Depot for the base and painted it matte black and then put it all together in the dining room. I feel like I would not want to take it out. I think that it works in that room and it makes this house special, you can have your entire family over for parties!”
Ever since Alexis laid eyes on a particular Lindsey Adelman chandelier in a magazine, her obsession drove her to search for an affordable alternative (see above photo). She found a similar fixture for $1000 in Australia. After confirming with her cousin who happens to live in Australia that the company was in fact legit, she had it shipped all the way to Maplewood NJ. “I’m lucky Justin is so handy. He did the electrical wiring for each arm”.
Alchemy & the Powder Room
The brass faucets in the powder room are in fact, chrome because the Kohler sink model’s faucet is only produced in chrome. “I really wanted brass so we found some random place in Newark, NJ. I think the place usually does things for cars but I called them up and they said they would and it wasn’t that expensive”. It didn’t work the first time around–the faucet rusted. “I had to have the plumber come back to take it all off again and bring it back to the brass plater. It was a huge hassle but it was so worth it to me”.
For the Love of Green
Alexis muses, “The perfect green is such a beautiful color…it’s like a mixture of emerald and jade”. Navy, like white and gray, are all good neutrals and a beautiful pop of color like green compliments them beautifully.
“We bought those chairs before the renovation. I wish they were a more saturated green, but I love the shape. And we got them for half-price.”
Neutral colors in varying shades from light to dark give the master bedroom a dramatic yet streamlined look. A mix of modern and vintage styles in various materials like marble and wood are, effortless and elegant. The nightstands are a one-of-a-kind Alexis creation. The stands are from West Elm. She bought Park Studio pulls and marble tops to give them a “different, lux, glamorous” look.
Alexis’ Top Three Tips for Hiring a Contractor:
There are many contractors out there and only a handful of great ones. When asked what she looks for in a contractor, she gave us some frank answers that we can all appreciate:
- Don’t hire the least expensive contractor. You may want to hire the most expensive company, but that’s not necessarily the best option always. But you do tend to get what you pay for.
- Get references. And not just two or three. Get the names and numbers of as many past clients as you can and call each one. It may take a lot of time, but it’s worth the peace of mind in the end.
- Ask interview questions. Conduct an interview as you would if you were hiring for your business or company. For instance, Alexis always asked the question, “What was your biggest mistake”? One of her favorite responses was from a contractor with only eight fingers, “Oh I never make a mistake…”
Photography, Aimee Herring Ryan
Managing Editor, “Inside Stories”, Lisa Danbrot
FOUNDER & LEAD CONTENT STRATEGIST
I live in a gorgeous 1895 Victorian otherwise know as No.139, with my husband Gary McDaniel, who is a frequent foodie contributor to this blog, and our three kids. While only four other families have called this place home, some of them made really bad choices that altered it’s classic design. And there was a cheapo flipper in the mix too. Now, we’re cleaning up their messes.
This blog is a creative outlet for the love of home design and art, doable DIY, indulging in good eats, and throwing a good party. While I write many of our articles, I’m not the only voice. Tradespersons, small business owners, or our good neighbors with special talents will share what they’ve learned through posts, photography, and video. Think about it. Who better to give you advice on landscape design, a well-stocked bar, or how to hire (and fire) the right contractor for your home reno than those who do it for a living or simply a passion to give voice to their hobby?
My day (and weekend) job as a REALTOR®-Salesperson for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Maplewood, NJ, gives me a unique opportunity to peek inside homes.