Warren Bachelor Pad Makeover: More Than A Man Cave

Overlooking the first-floor family room are sleek aluminum bedroom windows, the brainchild of Jane Connell who got the idea from a Fun House commercial project. Colson admits he can’t live without the bedside remote control that enables him to open and close the draperies while staying under the covers.

In the master suite, two funky faux zebra-hide stools play counterpoint to laidback tones of camel and seafoam.

Upholstered chairs and a leather bench by Hickory Chair provide flexible seating. The fireplace, a juxtaposition of rustic wood beams and cool quartz tiles, is gas lit, a time-saving convenience for a busy executive. A Karen Sanders area rug, custom-created by Fun House Furnishings & Design, anchors all the colors of the room and marries the dining and lounging spaces.

From left, two hassocks tuck neatly under a library table that displays personal artifacts and doubles as a buffet for parties. A zebra-wood occasional chair cozies up to medallion-patterned draperies. The original craftsman-style front door was freshened with several coats of pristine white paint. Faux-snakeskin fabric by Kravet is an indestructible choice for this custom-designed Hickory Chair bar stool. The bar area features natural stone atop a specially created walnut cabinet.

When sisters-in-law Jennifer Connell and Jane Connell of Fun House Furnishings & Design in Mendham first laid eyes on Steve Colson’s off-the-beaten-path residence in the woods of Warren Township, they thought they had walked into the wrong house.

Colson, who grew up in Summit, built his contemporary ranch 20 years ago on the 4.5-acre private lot. Last fall, when the never-married entrepreneur and philanthropist
commissioned the interior designers to update his primary living areas, they presumed that his space needed just a little tweaking.

“Boy, were we surprised,” Jennifer says. “Steve’s house wasn’t at all what we expected. Here was this very cool, sociable, successful guy occupying a big space that was basically unusable.”

“I admit it. I had been living like a college undergraduate,” Colson says with a smile. “My bed used to be full of books and business files, and I had to move them to one side to sleep. Even my dresser was loaded with books instead of clothes. That’s when Jennifer and Jane suggested that I turn my third bedroom into an office, and I’m so glad they did.”

“Many of Steve’s rooms were basically storage areas for mismatched furniture and accessories from previous decorating projects that never quite came together,” adds Jane.

On day one, it became all too apparent that this project would require decorating as well as organizing.

“There was so much unnecessary clutter in every area of the home. In the kitchen alone, we found an assortment of smoothie machines, ice cream makers, and lean mean grilling machines in every size, many left by former girlfriends,” reports Jane.

Colson and his brother own muliple New Jersey companies, including Somerset County-based Huston Lumber. An astute businessman, this homeowner wisely entrusted several main areas of his home to the Fun House designers, and he wasn’t interested in seeing the transformation until it was finished. To be sure, he was a decorator’s dream client.

Fun House worked closely with Nick Migliaccio, owner of Sovereign Contracting in Peapack. They knocked down walls, ripped up floors, dug trenches, replaced beams and even built the second-floor geometic-style master bedroom window that overlooks the family room area. Then Affordable Closets of Bangor, Pennsylvania, installed high-end built-in cabinetry in the office, laundry room and garage.

After six months of top-secret renovations, Colson finally entered his revamped space. “I walked into the dining and lounging area and thought, Is this really my house?  I don’t have any artistic sense, and I didn’t pick out any of the furnishings. I just trusted my designers and they nailed it.”

To ensure a big reveal for his family and friends, Colson didn’t tell anyone about the project until it was entirely finished. “Once each of the spaces was completed, Steve invited his parents over and they just about fainted,” confirms Jennifer.

To infuse the home with a welcoming vibe, Jennifer and Jane selected a sophisticated palette of camel, chocolate, navy and seafoam, and chose comfortable, masculine furnishings with clean lines and an organic feeling.

In fact, the family room, revamped as a cozy spot for Colson to grab a weekend nap or watch a football game with his pals, now sports Nobilis woodgrain-look wallpaper that was run horizontally rather than vertically to lend texture and unity to the space.

In the dining room, a huge table and an adjacent lounge area is perfect for entertaining friends, family and business colleagues. These days, it’s not unusual for this busy bachelor to host intimate groups for cocktails and dinner. “I actually have matching dishes, glasses, placemats and napkins, thanks to my decorators,” notes the homeowner.

Though Colson leads a pretty quiet lifestyle, he appreciates the amenities of his updated residence. “I especially like the bar area, gas-lit fireplace and the master bedroom’s remote control that opens and closes the draperies so that I don’t have to get out of bed. It’s very James Bond,” he says.“This new, clean space makes me happy. Now, when I eat a bowl of popcorn, I don’t make a mess. Once I actually texted Jennifer to tell her that I was drinking coffee and, for the first time ever, I put a saucer under it.”“We had to be somewhat ruthless,” says Jane. “We saved only about five of Steve’s original pieces and everything else was donated to the Salvation Army or given away.”“We told him that we preferred not to have any girlfriends involved in the decision-making process,” Jennifer chimes in. “This space was designed specifically with Steve’s needs in mind. He’s the nicest guy and is always doing things for other people. He deserves it.”

Colson adds, “It’s surreal to think that, after living here for 20 years, I now have a fully functional household that I really love. They gave me a perfect home.”

Charity Beings at Home

Not a run-of-the-mill bachelor, Steve Colson spends much of his time pursuing philanthropic efforts. Particularly passionate about the Rutgers Future Scholars program, he is its largest private donor. The academic initiative is unique in the U.S. because it identifies promising seventh graders, mentors them for five years, and provides a tuition-free education at the university.

*Colson also is an ardent supporter of the Union County Teams Charter School in Plainfield. It affords inner-city K-12 students a superior education within a small learning community.

*This Renaissance man learned Spanish and is now taking the alternate route to become a certified New Jersey elementary school teacher by September 2013. “I believe in the innate ability of all children to learn and become successful. Working with and mentoring kids in Camden and New Brunswick, I see so many talented and extremely gifted students whose potential is not being realized. To be able to faciliate that process as an inner-city teacher is a dream come true for me.”


Interior Design -— Fun House Furnishings & Design, Mendham, 973-543-6429; funhousefurnishings.com

Construction — Nick Migliaccio, Sovereign Contracting, Peapack, 908-581-6903

Cabinetry — DeVoe and Angel Martin, Affordable Closets Plus, 610-599-4227; affordableclosetsplus.com



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