At Home in New Jersey with Designer Kelli Suozzo of BOWERBIRD (2024)

Interior Design Kelli Suozzo isthe owner and principal designer ofBOWERBIRD, a full-service luxury interior design firm and the co-founder ofnest, a design studio and retail showroom—both in Red Bank, New Jersey. She has built an expansive portfolio of residential design projects with an emphasis on design builds—but it’s her own home we’re most excited about today.

Since moving from Manhattan to the northern part of the Jersey coast, she’d had her eye on a neighborhood lovingly called “The Horseshoe.” It’s adjacentto the Navesink River with views in every direction. Though it’s walking distance to the beach, as well as local schools and shops, it’s a peaceful enclave and the perfect place for the designer to call home.

With a bit of patience and a lot of creative vision, she was able to transform ‘the ugliest house on the block’ into a beautiful a functional home that beautifully balances traditional design elements with modern aesthetics. She tells us more:

How did you find your home, and what condition was the space in?
On one of our many COVID walks from our previous home around the corner, my husband and I passed a dated split-level ranch on ‘The Horseshoe’ with a For Sale sign in front of it. It was the ugliest house on the block, which is exactly what we wanted. I welcomed the challenge of reinventing the home to make it our own versus building something new. I have always loved the history and quirkiness an old home presents and figuring out the pieces to that puzzle. While frustrating at times, the journey often leads to serendipitous discoveries resulting in a more interesting layout and unique focal points.

The home had the same owners since it was built in the 1970s and they raised seven children here. That said, pink and powder blue bathrooms, knotty pine cabinets and linoleum floors reigned. That was the easy part. The larger issues were that there was no relationship between the interior and exterior, the kitchen felt secondary and closed off from the rest of the home and while I knew I wanted distinct and separate rooms (versus one big open floor plan), narrow doorways, lower ceilings and high placed windows had them feeling closed off and dark.

How did you solve the design “puzzle” and make the space your own?
A puzzle may be an understatement since the house looked like it hadn’t been touched since it was built. Call it an occupational hazard, but in the end, what started as a small renovation turned into a full gut redo with all the furnishings and decor. Throughout each step of the renovation process, we unearthed newpossibilities and reimagined the space within the original footprint.We wound up taking the house down to the studs and updated the layout with a more open floorplan, moving the kitchen to the back of the house so it flows into the living room and dividing up the lower level to create a larger lounge and bar for entertaining.

Our previous home was vertical, narrow, and dark, so bringing in natural light in was a top priority. To that end, the living room now boasts a vaulted ceiling punctuated with skylights and sliding doors to connect the interior to the exterior. We also added a skylight in the kitchen above the island and created a window alcove over the sink for plantings. For years, I have been pinning kitchens with skylights and was thrilled that I finally had the right layout to execute it.

How would you describe the style of the home?
We leaned into the soul of the 1970s split level style but updated it to optimize functionality and reflect our narrative.Having lived in Northern California while we were dating, we were comfortable with the vibe but also wanted to strikea balance between traditional and modern elements. Embracingmaterial choices of mixed wood tones, rich colors, and soft approachable textures resulted in a casual yet refined sensibility that felt completely us.

Did this project have any challenges?
After many years in the business, I’ve found that a renovation innately presents challenges around every corner.Some surprises you work through and figure out and some you are in essence, stuck with, but sometimes those turn out to be the best and most interesting elements of a project.

How long did the project take, and do you consider it ‘complete’?
We had an aggressive renovation timeline completing the bulk of the work and moving in within six months of starting demo.Over the next six months, we finalized and installed specialty wall finishes, window treatments and peppered in remaining furniture selects. The result is a home that works for our family. We do a great job of really living in the house, using and enjoying every area so there is no wasted or dead space.As an interior designer, I always have an eye on the next home project or update but I’m thrilled with how everything came out. For now.

Take a tour in the slideshow.

At Home in New Jersey with Designer Kelli Suozzo of BOWERBIRD (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Benton Quitzon

Last Updated:

Views: 6402

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Benton Quitzon

Birthday: 2001-08-13

Address: 96487 Kris Cliff, Teresiafurt, WI 95201

Phone: +9418513585781

Job: Senior Designer

Hobby: Calligraphy, Rowing, Vacation, Geocaching, Web surfing, Electronics, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Benton Quitzon, I am a comfortable, charming, thankful, happy, adventurous, handsome, precious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.