Classic Comfort

Gracious Greeting

Here—as the first example of the subtle, yet extravagant details throughout the home—are bright yellow walls hand painted in a grid-like, combed pattern. "Typically, the floors are the last thing you do when building," says homeowner and builder Rick Nordling. "In this case, the faux-painted walls had to be done after the floors to prevent dust from invading the paint." The home serves as a venue for the Nordlings to showcase their many antiques, art pieces, and personal treasures


Here—as the first example of the subtle, yet extravagant details throughout the home—are bright yellow walls hand painted in a grid-like, combed pattern. "Typically, the floors are the last thing you do when building," says homeowner and builder Rick Nordling. "In this case, the faux-painted walls had to be done after the floors to prevent dust from invading the paint." The home serves as a venue for the Nordlings to showcase their many antiques, art pieces, and personal treasures


Warm mahogany and the simplicity of white create an ageless look for the kitchen. Functionality is added with a full-sized butler's pantry behind the far wall, and French pocket doors, with mottled glass for privacy. The breakfast nook chandelier was custom made from an antique hardware store scale, and the hand-painted table depicts game birds.


The dining room, though formal, is not altogether conventional. Here again, the homeowners’ personalities are reflected in the space. An 1860s Irish coffin table flanked by tiger-maple dining chairs seats ten, a folk-art Turkish area rug depicts farm scenes in keeping with the home’s farmhouse bent, and the classic white wainscoting is set off by bright yellow felt wall covering.


The rustic, light-filled master suite is appointed with a rough-hewn four-poster bed made in Wyoming from barn beams. The bed is positioned to enjoy a walled, private garden with a patio that is complete with an elevated fireplace—designed to be viewed while reclining—and a hot tub.


On the landing (left), lighted built-ins provide display space. In the foyer, an antler chandelier makes a dramatic centerpiece while a shadowbox displaying an 1880 Sioux war shirt, a peace pipe, and trade knives commands a place of honor over a doorway. In the corner, an 1885 carved bear cane stand from Switzerland adds a sculptural note.



Plump sofas and chairs arranged over a colorful custom-made rug make the living room as conducive to entertaining as it is for lounging privately. For the former, shutter-like doors open to reveal a 60-inch television; for the latter, a full wet bar is tucked into the back corner of the room. The walls are clad in paper-backed felt that lends depth and rich color.


Designed to mimic the look of an 1890s-style home, this newly built manse derives its old-world character from architectural touches such as the classic second-story balcony, pillars, handsome shingles, divided windows, and stone accents.

It might seem that an 1880 Sioux war shirt, a baby grand piano, and mahogany beadboard paneling are too incongruent to aesthetically coexist. That might, indeed, be true, if not for the practiced eyes of Rick and Ronnie Nordling.

Their Far Hills home is an ambitious merger of styles, where elegant formality blends with rugged simplicity. For Rick, an avid outdoorsman, and Ronnie, a collector of Native American artifacts, the residence is also a place to display cherished objects and artwork with drama and creativity. However, this is not a museum-like home with don’t-touch precepts; it is a hands-on living space.

“This is a corduroy-shirt-and-wool-sock home,” Rick Nordling will tell you of the 8,800-square-foot, four-bedroom home designed by Bernardsville architects Brandes Maselli and executed by the homeowner, a 30-year veteran builder. It took Nordling just fifteen months and fifteen days to complete the project with his dream team of craftsmen. “We knew exactly what we wanted,” he says of the two-year-old house that sits on a five-acre plot.

That certainty helped make quick work of the voluminous materials selection process. “We wanted the look of a home that’s been around a long time, with all the bells and whistles of today.” Nordling says it took just two hours to choose all the tiles for six bathrooms, a laundry room, a dog area, and the basement entrance.

“We were confident in our ability to make decisions and had a clear vision,” he says. “The tile saleswoman said, ‘You’ll be back to change something.’ I said, ‘No, we won’t.’ And, we weren’t.”

The Nordlings relocated to Somerset County from an 80-acre farm in Stockton. Though essentially downsizing, the couple wanted to bring furnishings from their spacious former home, so they adjusted the scale of the new home’s rooms to fit their oversized pieces. “We didn’t want all new things.”

The entire house underscores that sentiment. When the project began in 2006, “it was difficult to find craftsmen to create with the old-style sensibilities and quality. The artisans who did that work tended to be older, and the materials they used were hard to find,” Nordling explains. “Now, there’s been a bit of a rebirth of craftsmen who take pride in building with the old integrity. Because of that, some materials have become more available.” Nordling used one such item—quartersawn, random-width white-oak flooring—throughout the house. “It is the classic woodwork that really gives the house its sense of time. It has the kind of craftsmanship found in older homes,” he says.

The well-thought-out details contribute to the residence’s older-home feel, even as you enter the two-story foyer, which, in a nod to contemporary luxury, is expansive and bright. However, as classic millwork, a coffered ceiling, and warmly colored, faux-painted walls define the space, the home’s character remains intact. A bank of windows placed opposite the open gallery balcony creates spatial symmetry, as perfectly scaled artwork and a seven-foot by five-inch antler chandelier further balance the entryway.

Beyond the foyer, there is a sweeping staircase with a soaring ceiling that provided a creative opportunity. Instead of the formal library in the original house plans, the Nordlings opted for bookcases that frame the staircase. The mahogany built-ins add warmth, and the shelving is carefully positioned so that many of the book titles are readable—and reachable—while strategically placed windows allow plenty of natural light. On the landing, the millwork continues into display cabinetry for Ronnie’s Native American collectibles.

The first-floor layout offers plenty of flexibility as rooms flow one into another through wide entryways, creating an open, modern effect, while pocket doors allow privacy where needed. The living room is the primary living space, since the Nordlings chose not to have a family room. “We don’t need one,” the homeowner says. “This house is for living; there is no velvet rope around the living room.”

“A house should do two things: One, make you feel good. Two, it should give you a return on your investment.” So far, the Nordling residence is a resounding success on the first criterion. “We wouldn’t change a thing. We love this house,” he says. Designed to meet all of the homeowners’ needs, there are many custom features, some personalized (a crafts area outfitted to fill the full length of a roll of wrapping paper; a drive-up, second-floor wood shop; and an indoor/outdoor dog run for pups Katie and Moriah) and others universally appealing (two master suites, one that looks out on an ultra-private, wall-enclosed garden equipped with a hot tub and fireplace; a temperature-controlled gym; and radiant heat flooring) that promise to make the home a lasting investment.

Resources:
Architect: Brandes Maselli, Bernardsville
General contractor: Nordling Custom Homes, Far Hills
Interior design: Kate, Inc., Whitefish, Montana
Carpentry: Christopher Metz Carpentry, Pohatcong Township; Brad Rawlins Contracting, Palmyra
Interior/exterior millwork and cabinetry:
F & B Architectural Millwork, Washington
Interior/exterior painting: Village Green Painting, Long Valley
Faux finishing: Judy Mulligan, Chester
Electrician: Brett Wyatt Electric LLC, Lopatcong
Wood floors: K. Sabin Flooring, Morristown
Plumbing: E. Mills & Son, Chester
Kitchen: Superior Custom Kitchens, Warren
HVAC: Ludlow Heating & Cooling, Bernardsville
Roofing and siding: A & M Roofing, Annandale
Stairs: Custom Stair Builders, Kenilworth
Stereo, alarms, video: Diversified Systems, Hackettstown
Stone mason: Jeffrey Haduck, Hellertown, Pennsylvania
Tiler: Michael Weber, Califon
Landscaping: Cross River Design, Annandale


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