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Inside Story | Nureed Saeed, Interior Design Outside the Lines

We find ourselves here again, saddled up to the kitchen island sipping a cup of white tea sweetened with raw honey, chatting a lot longer than we intended to. This always happens. We are both working moms with hectic schedules and we know this is a luxury to be treasured…in fact, it’s a scene we’ve played out a few times before. There is comfort here for me – for any visitor – it’s a picture-perfect home. Art and objects accessorize walls and shelves with great intent and sophistication. Everything has a purpose as well as a function. Which is not surprising, as the home’s owner is its designer, Nureed Saeed, one of The Lux Pad’s Top 25 New Jersey Interior Designers of 2017.

Nureed, her husband Muzy, and their three children live in this beautiful, fully reimagined Mid-century modern home. It is filled with light and wide open spaces for everything a family needs, from mom and dad’s cocktail parties to the children’s “airports” of brightly-colored Magna-Tiles® that span across the floor.

It is understood that a family, most especially one with three children, will change over the next decade. Change is a constant variable and one that Nureed skillfully accounts for throughout the design of her home. Muzy once explained that his wife has a knack for making a lived-in home look, well, staged. Each design element is temporary and can pivot seamlessly on the whim of a new life phase. The home is a continuous work in progress.

Renovated kitchen, kitchen remodel in Nureed Saeed's mid century modern home in South Orange, NJ
Nureed Saeed's renovated remodeled Kitchen Island in her South Orange NJ mid century modern home

Creating Home Base

Nureed designs for the love of family, hers and those of her clients. She instinctively knows how the basics of light, color, texture, proportion, space-management and planning are the necessary tools for successful interior design. She also unwaveringly believes that great design considers the needs of both the old and young alike. People must have spaces to support the various stages of life. Understanding that each age should be afforded need-based comfort, her strategy is to design today and plan for tomorrow. Whether it’s a stylish ADA-compliant bathroom for her mom, space for extended family visits, or a mudroom that can store the shoes and outerwear of five, life is an ever-evolving organism which Nureed’s design accounts for.

Nureed Saeed, Founder & owner of Nu Interiors. Bi-coastal interior design shop. Berkeley, CA and South Orange, NJ

People Naturally Gravitate Towards Certain Spaces in Their Homes.

Perhaps no one knows this better than those of us who live in older homes built for tastes that differ from our modern-day palette. Making use of a space in a way that differs from its original purpose requires creativity and fine-tuned listening skills on the part of the interior designer in order to address how those spaces are already being used by the client. In Nureed and Muzy’s home, the kitchen, with its natural flow and abundance of space is the obvious gathering place; “I mean that’s why we bought this house, actually. That’s why I wanted this house.” When it came to its design, she sought balance in a sleek countertop, warm floors, rustic wood shelving and beautiful, well designed appliances that are also dependable workhorses.

Sunken living room in a mid century modern home in South Orange, NJ. Designed by Nureed Saeed of Nu Interiors

The Tile Lady

After my second walk-through of Nureed’s Mid-century modern beauty, I took note of what I believe to be her muse: Tile. Tile choice is one of the most impactful decisions a homeowner can make during a kitchen or bath remodel. Styles are as varied as prices, and the process of finding exactly what you want can be overwhelming. Creating art with tile is Nureed’s signature. Sometimes she mixes and matches styles and at other times it’s all about how and where it is placed on the wall – just a little off center this way or that – a re-engineering of symmetry, or asymmetry as it were. “Every designer has an element they love. Tile is moldable, to me, the jewel.” Leave it to Nureed to say something like that.

Uniquely tiled mudroom in a mid century modern home in South Orange NJ. Designed by Nureed Saeed of Nu Interiors.
Nureed Saeed's kitchen tile in her mid-century modern home in South Orange NJ

Family. It’s That Simple.

It’s been over four years since Nureed and Muzy first laid eyes on the space. Despite having more walls than needed, outdated fixtures, and the sickening smell of cat urine (you know that smell–it lingers!), she had to have it. Six months pregnant, Nureed walked around for 20 minutes while Muzy stayed in the car with their 10 month-old twins (he had toured it a few days earlier and saw no need to see it again). Neither one asked their Realtor a single question before telling her that they wanted it.

Sunken living room in Nureed Saeed's mid-century modern home in South Orange, NJ

Despite the excitement of a new home and baby, Nureed recalls that this new period in their lives was “bittersweet”, as her dad was gravely ill. She tearfully recalls, “When I walked in I saw light and I didn’t know what it meant…but I saw light…and I think a lot of it is about my dad. When I’m here I think about him, even though he’s never been here.” Two days after their offer was accepted, he passed away.

A massive whole-house renovation ensued. Nureed and Muzy were not novice home renovators by any means. Having bought and sold several homes in Brooklyn, they both enjoy the process of design and home renovation. “I spent a lot of time driving between Brooklyn and South Orange, back and forth, dealing with the renovation and thinking about all the different parts of it…and thinking about him.” Having had an enormous impact on her love for DIY and all things home improvement, she finds comfort knowing that she told her father about the house before he passed. “He was really excited for us.”

Mid century modern family room designed by Nureed Saeed. South Orange NJ

Mid-century modernism delights Nureed. I mean, she lives in a house from the Mad Men era. While modernism “makes her heart swoon”, she ponders its essence; “Clean lines are great, but who lives in there? Where is their stuff?” Thus, she uses Modernism as a base and adds layers for depth, soul and function.

To hear a client call her and say, “Oh my God, I love my space.“ or “I’m still pinching myself that this is my bathroom”, is worth everything to Nureed.

Master bath in a mid century modern home in South Orange, NJ. Designed by Nureed Saeed of Nu Interiors
Master bath in a mid century modern home in South Orange, NJ. Designed by Nureed Saeed of Nu Interiors

Afterward

A few months after this interview, Muzy, an attorney by trade, received a wonderful opportunity from a law firm in the Bay Area. Nureed is skillfully managing Nu Interiors, the interior design firm she founded and operates, bi-coastally from both South Orange and San Francisco. 

Children's playroom in a South Orange NJ mid century modern. Designed by Nureed Saeed of Nu Interiors.

A special treat, peek inside more rooms within Nureed’s gorgeous mid century home below…

Credits

Author, Carla Labianca

Photography, Aimee Herring Ryan

Managing Editor, “Inside Stories”,  Lisa Danbrot

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