“Working with Sarah was an absolute dream,” homeowner Mary Kate Frerichs remarks, who got the opportunity to partner with designer Sarah Sherman Samuel on the renovation of her historic Princeton, New Jersey, home. “I have been obsessing over her unique style for years and love that she really has her own look—you can always tell an SSS space when you see one.”
Frerichs and her husband, Achille Confuorto, moved from Fort Greene, Brooklyn, to their first home in New Jersey at the end of last year. “We had been looking in the Princeton area for a while because we both love the quintessential main street and the diversity the university attracts, plus it’s situated between both of our families,” she adds.
The home, built in 1945, is a charming bungalow style and the pair knew it would be the perfect fixer-upper project. Additionally, it lies adjacent to a Revolutionary War battlefield where they got engaged.
They loved the property, but the kitchen was outdated, they desired more storage, there was an awkward separated between the kitchen and dining room, and they aimed to convert the first-floor half-bathroom to a full bathroom.
I never would have come up with the layout myself, but now that it’s finished, it feels like it always should have been like this.
“Semihandmade reached out to me for this project,” the designer says. “The rooms were all quite petite, so getting a more spacious feel with a functional kitchen—as her husband works in the restaurant business—was high on my list.”
Since Samuel would be designing from Michigan due to the pandemic, the three met via FaceTime sessions to plan out the furniture and create the best layout. “It was such a cool moment in the process watching the expert work her magic,” Frerichs recalls. “I never would have come up with the layout myself, but now that it’s finished, it feels like it always should have been like this.”
The home was pretty much a blank canvas as they had yet to move in when they began working with Samuel. Luckily, it had beautiful natural light, something that would ultimately make it seem larger than it was. In addition to the couple’s brief, they had put together a range of inspiration images, including an array of light-colored kitchens.
To maximize the kitchen, the designer removed part of the wall blocking off the dining room and borrowed some square footage from the new cocktail lounge, originally an empty room the couple was unsure how to utilize. She went with both white upper cabinets and grey lower cabinets in a Shaker style from BOXI for both lightness and depth, as well as a full pantry wall for storage, Rejuvenation brass hardware, quick-ship Fireclay Tusk tile, and Arabescato Corchia honed marble from Aria Stone Gallery.
“They have all of their inventory online, so it’s the closest thing to a direct-to-consumer marble supplier,” Samuel says.
“One of my favorite elements of the new design is the marble countertops and backsplash,” adds the homeowner. “The marble was stunning and one of the first things that Sarah picked out, and we really wanted to make a statement in our small kitchen.”
And because the couple was eager to move in, the timeline was very tight. Samuel ordered all the marble and went for BOXI cabinetry as it’s ships within three to four weeks, plus she chose all in-stock furniture from some of her favorite brands.
In the dining room, Samuel went for a mix of styles, something which nodded to the traditional architecture of the home but still reflected the clean modernity of the living room design. A Noir Wanda dining table in black metal pairs with a Hudson Valley Lighting Group pendant and Jeanneret Armchairs from France & Sons.
The living room fireplace was refreshed with scraps of Arabescato Corchia marble, while large, somewhat chunky pieces ground the room. “I love the coffee table, even though the room is small,” Samuel says. “It’s sculptural and has a lot of weight and surface area.”
Lounge chairs from Noir, which were the designer’s secondary choice as she came across a few time issues during the design, a Four Hands 90-inch sofa and large-scale artwork from Minted create a sophisticated, intentionally designed space that the couple adores.
Like in the living room, Samuel went for the boldly veined black-and-white marble, BOXI cabinetry and brass accents to liven up the first-floor bathroom, while the final space she touched, the cocktail room got a storage update but utilized a beautiful green stone as Samuel had already installed the last of the marble for the new shower.
Overall, the home exhibits a cohesive design, one that’s a testament to what can be done in short amount of time with a talented team.