N.J. home makeover is a regular feature on NJ.com that showcases designer, contractor and DIY renovations, large and small. To submit your renovation for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, email address, phone number and town/city. Attach “before” and “after” photos of what you renovated.
With three children, three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms, Gary and Sharon Foti were outgrowing their Pompton Plains ranch home.
They looked into buying a bigger house, but they really like where they live, so they considered an addition. Gary Foti always wanted a house with a basement, and they began to explore their options.
They learned that the all-new living quarters they could have with a modular house would be a reasonable cost above what they would have spent to enlarge their existing house.
“We knocked down our house, put in a modular house and got a basement,” Sharon Foti said.
They also got a more spacious 2,800-square-foot house with a master bedroom and a second full bath, a second half bath and bigger room for their sons, ages 16 and 11 to share. Their daughter, 13, has her own smaller room.
Like other modular structures, their 2011 Colonial-style home was factory-built in sections and transported to their property to be joined and finished.
When the Fotis were planning their house, they felt their choices were somewhat limited for the interior. After living in it for six years, they decided to update the first floor with more personalized styling. Sharon Foti also had grown weary of the color scheme and furnishings.
“We needed a new couch, and one thing led to another,” she said.
They decided to fully update the dining room and great room and change the flooring throughout the first floor. They selected prefinished engineered hardwood in wide planks with a distressed walnut finish.
“Doing the same flooring throughout really made the whole first floor flow together,” she said.
They wanted the same cohesive feel for the furnishings, accessories and other features of the rooms, so they hired interior designer Heather McManus of Artistry Interiors in Kinnelon to guide them.
“I wanted it to make sense,” Foti said. “We also needed to create a better layout for our great room. It is a large, long room that was difficult to design.”
In the great room, they would modernize the fireplace by replacing the traditional surround and mantel with a face of brick-like ceramic tiles installed from floor to ceiling.
“Before, we just had what the modular house came with, and my husband never really liked that,” Sharon Foti said.
While they selected the tiles themselves, they sought input from McManus on that and other choices. Their work with the designer involved consultations, a floor plan she laid out for them, and recommendations for color schemes, furniture, fabrics and other materials.
They went with a neutral backdrop of light gray and beige for the walls. From the furniture and lighting options McManus suggested, they purchased some pieces and shopped on their own for others in styles and fabrics similar to what she recommended. McManus also said their home would be improved if they incorporated some custom pieces.
“Instead of a China cabinet in the dining room, they did a beautiful built-in with glass and lights,” McManus said.
In the great room, along a wall with entry doors at both sides, McManus suggested making better use of the available space with a unified built-in that would provide height with more storage, a place for the television and a working desk. Previously, the television had been mounted above a console cabinet with a desk next to it.
For the great room’s opposite wall, McManus designed a home bar. To help unify the great room and dining room, all the built-ins have a similar style with the same glass or solid cabinet doors and a crisp, white finish that matches the molding and other trim in the rooms.
The desk and dining room both have contrasting natural wood counters and the bar has a moisture-friendly granite countertop. All the custom pieces were built by Joseph J. Opalka Custom Woodwork and Refinishing of Wayne.
McManus also worked into the design some items the couple wanted to keep including a newer dining room rug and decorative accessories such as a large wall clock and a mirror that resembles an arched window.
“It’s nice for the client to have the security of a design plan,” McManus said. “They knew how big they could go with the sectional sofa, and they had scaled drawings of the built-ins. I recommended Joe, and they went with him.”
Sharon Foti says working with McManus made a difference in the way they improved their home.
“Heather helped us pick out colors and fabrics and tones that we would not have been able to do ourselves,” she said. “She also helped us to keep our house simple and functional.”
What they renovated
Gary and Sharon Foti replaced flooring throughout the first floor of their 2011 Colonial-style home in Pompton Plains, including the dining room, great room, kitchen and hallway. They worked with an interior designer on a new layout, painted and updated their furniture, including several custom built-ins. They freshened their kitchen and guest bathroom with new wallpaper.
Who did the work
Design by Heather McManus of Artistry Interiors; custom woodwork by Joseph J. Opalka Custom Woodwork and Refinishing of Wayne.
How long it took
About five months. “We met Heather in January 2016, and work started in March and finished by end of May 2016,” Sharon Foti said.
What they spent
Where they splurged
On the hardwood flooring and the grouping of four designer chairs in the great room.
How they saved
By getting a few contractor estimates on all the work so they could get the best price. “We also, shopped around on some of the furniture to get a reasonable price on the new sectional, dining room chairs and area rugs,” she said.
What they like most
“I love the color scheme and how it flows on the whole first floor,” says Sharon Foti. “When I look around my house, I feel so happy and I love where I live. The custom bar and cabinetry. They add so much richness and beauty and look like they were always part of my home.”
What they’d have done differently