Rhyme and Reason
Details matter in this contemporary home renovation
It may appear as if there was no rhyme or reason in the planning of Dr. Joel and Jennifer Tobiansky’s remodeled home, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The couple knew exactly how they wanted to transform their outdated 1980s home and had spent years accumulating ideas to show for it.
Features that some might see as random—like the home’s new master bedroom fireplace or large living room wall—help create the contemporary style the couple acquired while traveling to places like Las Vegas and Cape Town, South Africa. “We love contemporary and things that have a different look,” Jennifer says. “My husband is from Cape Town, so every time we would go visit I would see things that I loved and would bring those ideas back with us.”
Dramatic entrance and more
The Tobianskys watched their vision bloom with the artistic talents of Chris Newman, owner of Cheeky Monkey, and John Albrecht of Albrecht Wood Interiors. Albrecht breathed life into the abstract concepts and added dramatic touches that serve as stunning centerpieces in the home’s main living spaces.
In three short months, the Albrecht team gutted five rooms in the Washington Township home, stripping each of less desirable features like stained poplar trim and six-panel doors, and replacing them with rich modern alternatives like larger maple baseboards and one-panel doors.
Guests can see the new look as they approach the home’s new handcrafted front doors. Jennifer saw similar doors online so Albrecht told her to purchase the glass and he would create the doors around it. The translucent glass allows light to spill out at night, but still provides the privacy the couple wanted.
The foyer’s floor—made up of a carbon colored urbanite tile—flows into the home’s living room and down its hallway. Metal inlays were placed in the tiles to give a hint of Zebra stripes. The look is one of several design details that allude to Joel’s South African roots. The floor design subtly flows with the framed photography on the walls, which Joel took while on an African safari.
The living room is easily viewed from the home’s entrance, something that wasn’t possible with the older design. One important thing Albrecht’s team did when they gutted the home was to remove bulky archways and create larger, cleaner lines in walls. The view is also made possible with a new, stunning staircase that has become the centerpiece for the home’s main floor.
The original staircase was a traditional design with round, chunky banisters and an enclosed area underneath for storage. Jennifer was looking for a different feel and Albrecht suggested a floating staircase that is held up by a single support below. The railing was custom-made with metal that looks like stainless steel and glass panels on the sides of the stairs allow easier viewing on either side.
A reason for random
The unique staircase helps set the stage for the main living room wall. The two-story wall, once just a massive white canvas, has become a tribute to contemporary style. A new background was made on the wall with the use of English sycamore. The original fireplace, naturally situated in the middle of the wall was then restructured so that it could be moved off center.
Several elements—including a rectangular mirror, 60-inch flat screen television and two decorative niches—use the clean lines and sporadic effect often seen in contemporary spaces. One of the most unusual pieces is a six-foot cut of glass that was colored black and hung vertically on the upper left part of the wall.
Newman didn’t discuss a particular color scheme when drawing the original designs for the living room. Rather he used neutral tones and natural woodwork. “I would rather everything to have a natural background and then the accessories and art work could pop out and be very special,” he explains.
Albrecht achieved a similar feel in the couple’s bedroom, which was inspired by several suites the couple had enjoyed in Las Vegas. Jennifer wanted a warm, romantic space and that is just what she got. The room’s fireplace gives off a soft glow not just from its fire, but also from the lights carefully placed among the copper columns around it.
The fireplace, its two dark wood beams that run to both sides, and the drawers to its right and left were created as one piece. The colors used in the fireplace are mirrored in the end tables to either side of the bed. Instead of a headboard, Albrecht took round cement frames, cut them in half and covered them with fabric that can be switched out at any time.
Form and functionality
Comfort and functionality played a close second to the new design’s contemporary feel. As a cardiologist, Joel’s workdays are often full and demanding so it was important to create a home where he could return and feel relaxed. Many of the spaces were redesigned with home media in mind, and in particular, the flat screen televisions found in each room.
Joel’s favorite feature is the automated system that controls all of the home’s media—including entertainment, security and lighting—on one system. The couple loves to travel and now can control settings with more ease and even from remote areas. They are even alerted through a text message if a door has been opened while they are away.
The home’s office was completely restructured to accommodate work space for both Joel and Jennifer and to adequately hold and hide the growing amount of wiring needed to run computers and keep devices charged. The office was also an important room for Joel as the health care industry becomes more computerized. Now, he can return home and slip into the comfort of his office and continue to evaluate patient reports and records.
Despite being avid travelers, after seeing their home transformed, the Tobianskys have discovered it’s hard to find a destination that gives them the same feeling as the one they’ve come to realize in their own home. And that’s saying a lot coming from a couple that travels to wind down.
Contractor: Albrecht Wood Interiors; Designers: Cheeky Monkey; West Parke Interiors; Flooring: Bob Madden Carpet & Tile; Lighting: Prestige Lighting; Painting: Jeff Taylor Painting & Wallpaper; Stairway construction: Spangler Carpentry; Iron railing and glass: Elegant Iron Studios; Audio/Video: Control 4, installed by Audio Etc.; Foyer lighting: Uttermost Alita Drum Pendants