A Manhattan family make this sophisticated seaside sanctuary their own with a little help from a noted designer.
Suzie Aijala and her husband, Ainar, love the bustle of their primary address in Manhattan. But on weekends and in the summer, they're ready for a calmer retreat. Here, in their bayside home in Mantoloking, New Jersey, they can relax with their son and invite friends over for impromptu dock parties or dinner soirees.
When the Aijalas moved into their weekend home, Suzie knew she wanted the decorating tone to read sophisticated, yet comfy. She enlisted the help of her friend, interior designer Jennifer Watty. Suzie selected a neutral color palette with pink accents, and Watty brought it to life with furnishings, window treatments, and accessories.
The Aijalas love to entertain, so a multifunctional living room was a must. Watty grouped chairs, sofas, ottomans, and plenty of low-slung tables throughout the large room to create conversation centers. "We started with a strong floor plan that answers all the requirements of the room without giving up anything," Watty says. "It's made for mingling."
The best part about the Aijalas' living room? It transforms instantly from dinner party central to quiet family space. A chaise near a sunlit window is the perfect perch to enjoy coffee and a book while the small seaside town outside wakes up.
Like the rest of the home, the dining room feels beachy and elegant at the same time. Suzie loves to set a pretty table, so this room is used often. "We like to host casual parties in formal settings," Suzie says.
On a trip to Palm Beach, Florida, Suzie commissioned an artist to design and create this shell mirror for the dining room.
Throughout the home, Watty balanced beach vibes -- such as seashell accents -- with refined furnishings. "Keep it sophisticated," Watty says. "When you have that base of sophistication, you can add as many beachy accents as you want." The Aijalas' dining room is the perfect example: Elegant furnishings bring a touch of formality, while a seashell mirror and this shell-encrusted chandelier spell seaside casual.
Tailored slipcovers accented with mother of pearl buttons dress up dining room chairs and bring Suzie's preferred pink tones into the dining room.
In the sitting room adjacent to the kitchen, pillows and a brightly patterned armchair add punch. "Pillows are the pieces de resistance when it comes to layering," Watty says. "In Suzie's house, we added pink pillows with a sophisticated pattern to a neutral palette. The pillows are what make it work."
The master bedroom is Suzie and Ainar's oasis. Rattan and woven accents instill a natural feel. "The dark bench at the foot of the bed gives the room strength," Watty says.
The bedroom breaks from the lively pink palette, turning instead toward whispery greens and the faintest hints of pattern. Watty deliberately kept the decorating scheme simple to give the room a calm aura.
During the summer months, the Aijalas like to spend as much time outside as in. That's why the decorating scheme and palette extend to the deck and dock areas. Like interior spaces, the exterior welcomes family and friends alike. "We have an open-door policy at our house. The house is always full," Suzie says.
Jennifer Watty's designs run the style gamut, from beach chic to formal traditional, depending on what her clients desire. But in her own space, she puts the things she loves most on display.