Inspirations, Personalities

Real People, Real Design: Nicole (Pt 1)

Since we often work with clients on custom commissions, we have the opportunity to see many different styles of interiors, some completely designed by a professional while others seemingly so but not.  Nicole Shumpert’s charming home in Bloomfield, New Jersey is just one example of how an enterprising design aficianado can find amazing resources with a little time and lots of patience.  Today, we are launching a new series about real people with a passion for design and how they have transformed everyday spaces into beautiful rooms.  A big thanks to Nicole for sharing her home, her insights and her words for our very first “Real People, Real Design” post!


“A lot of people are intimidated by decorating and aren’t sure where to begin.  I think it’s important to find a design style that appeals to you (Traditional, Contemporary, or in my case, Hollywood Regency) and then use that as a guide when figuring out what to do in the space.  Our house was built in 1938 and that was my inspiration for the decor.  I love the idea of transforming this 70 year old house into my vision of the era in which it was built.



The prints that flank the fireplace are vintage posters that I had custom framed in antique silver leaf.  On the left side, an advertisement for the 1939 Cannes Film Festival and on the right, iconic actress Grace Kelly in an ad for Tattinger Champagne.  I kept the wall colors fairly neutral because I wanted the furniture and accessories to be the focal point.  It was crucial to me to have a color story in each room and make sure that it was complementary with the color stories in any of the adjoining rooms.  In the case of the living room, the large elements are either white, ivory or chocolate brown, which allowed me to introduce color in such a way that if I ever get bored with the orange accents, I don’t have to buy lots of new things, just change up some accessories.  Seating is alway an issue in any living room and I was able to maximize the space at hand by adding the settee.  Aesthetic aside, comfort and function are equally important to us because we utilize every square foot of our house and I wanted the decor to reflect that.


The cabinets on either side of the fireplace are from Home Decorators Collection and were incredibly inexpensive.  We use them to house the electronics equipment, remotes, DVDs and photo albums.  I would have loved to do built-ins but our current budget wouldn’t allow it.  This is a great example of modifying what you want/need to suit the budget at hand.  The fireplace was an absolute eyesore – it was old red brick with a boring chestnut mantel.  Instead of demolishing the fireplace and starting from scratch, we found a company called Mantels Direct that constructed a custom shell that fit over our existing fireplace, as well as marble facing for the fireplace and hearth.  We picked the style and colors we wanted and sent them the measurements.  Our contractor glued the perfectly cut marble facade to the existing brick, popped the new mantel right over it and voila – brand new fireplace without the huge price tag!


For the sofa pillows, I originally wanted to use the fabric that is on the settee but Pottery Barn wouldn’t sell it to me in fabric or pillow form (even after several phone calls to their corporate offices in San Francisco.)  Since my hopes were dashed, I labored over finding the right throw pillows.  I bought and returned several versions before I ultimately decided to make my own (sort of!)  I found the fabric online, ordered 1 1/8 yards for every two pillows, bought inserts at a craft store and headed off to my dry cleaner for assembly.  $10 per pillow in labor later, I had the perfect accessories for my sofa.  And if I ever want to change them, I can simply unzip the covers and zip on new ones.


In this economy, creating the luxe look for less is key.  My friend’s mother was over at my house this summer and asked if most of my furniture was from William Sonoma Home.  “Actually none of it is,” I told her.  “My sofas and rug are from Pottery Barn (people have no idea how fashion forward PB has become in the last few years!), tables are from Crate and Barrel and the lead crystal lamp on the end table is from Restoration Hardware.”  The buffet lamps on the console are from Target but you would never know unless you tried to pick them up!”


Check in again soon for more from Nicole!

Sofa, chairs, settee, rug, floor lamp and drapes: Pottery Barn
Cabinets: Home Decorators Collection
Console: Thomasville
Mirror and foyer table: Ballard Designs
Mother of pearl lamp and floral panels: Horchow

Inspirations / Muses: Kelly Wearstler, Dorothy Draper, Billy Haines, Candice Olson and Jonathan Adler
Favorite Magazines: Elle Decor, Metropolitan Home, Architectural Digest and Traditional Home
Favorite Pastime: watching anything one HGTV
Favorite Stores: Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Neiman Marcus, Target
Favorite Online Stores:,,,,,,, and

All photos from Nicole Shumpert

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  • Reply michelle September 22, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I love it!!! Can you share how to duplicate those stairs??? They are everything I want for my stairs!!!
    Great job and thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Luggage January 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks that was a interesting post!

  • Reply contemporary living accessories February 27, 2010 at 11:23 pm

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