The exterior of this traditional house on Emerson Hill looks handsome, but neighborhood- typical. Its interior, however, is a masterpiece of modern design

by JENNIFER VIKSE • Photos By Robert Nuzzie

For the owners of a rather traditional, center hall home on Emerson Hill, it was time to shake things up.

So they sought out Annmarie Ruta Interiors LLC and ARC Restoration and Development Inc. to completely reimagine their home—and that meant that nothing was off-limits.


“This custom renovation transformed a traditional home into an ultra-modern style,” explained Ruta, the design firm’s owner. “We were hired to renovate the existing structure—built decades ago—into a completely different style in every aspect.”

The outside of the home remains conventional-looking, with a stone exterior, slightly arched windows on the second floor, and stone front steps. The lawn and stone driveway are standard and fit in easily with the surrounding neighborhood. The glass front door and the black entryway are flanked on either side by iron lanterns. All in all, a pretty normal-looking house. But venture inside the front door, and you’ll find a unique and magnificent home.

To achieve the uncluttered, contemporary look the homeowners wanted, interior walls were taken down and the original floor plan, which consisted of numerous small rooms, was altered to create larger rooms and more open spaces.



“Our clients were interested in a minimalist look,” noted Ruta. “I was excited to design a space which is typically more of a Manhattan style than traditionally done on Staten Island. The clean lines, neutral color palette, and geometric shapes define this interior.”

In addition to the immediate plan to remove walls, Ruta quickly realized that the home’s original oak staircase wouldn’t complement the new look. “The transformation of the home centered on the entry staircase. The original staircase wouldn’t work in my designs, so I proposed a new concept to the owners—and they loved the idea!”

That notion was to create a floating entry staircase into the center of the house. Custom-made in white iron, it floats from the main level up to the second floor and down to the basement.

“It was designed to be see-through, into the family room and directly at the oversized fireplace,” she explained. “It is constructed from tubular iron with quartz treads.”


For the entire first floor, Ruta chose neutral walls and oversized porcelain tiles reminiscent of marble slabs. The choice was strategic. “It visibly expands the open space and accentuates the grand area. Its simple architectural molding was used throughout the home, staying true to a contemporary, uncomplicated look,” she explained.

The formal living room, in the front of the house, is furnished with contemporary matching green velvet sofas and neutral-colored armchairs, an all-glass coffee table, and a plush silk area rug. Black-striped throw pillows add a bit of dash to the neutral tones used throughout. Blinds on the front window offer privacy.

The dining room is decorated with a black lacquered table that seats six. A piece of contemporary artwork, in three panels, crosses one wall, and a Lucite chandelier creates bursts of light on the ceiling. A colorful vase draws the eye to the glass buffet at one end of the room.


The oversized family room manages to be simultaneously chic and comfortable. Its most notable feature might be the large fireplace, set in a metallic quartz wall. The room was designed with two separate seating areas, Ruta said: One for watching television and the other for conversation or quiet time. Both manage to take advantage of the large fireplace. By the TV, an L-shaped couch sits atop a multicolored rug. A marble-slab cocktail table, with steel legs, rests on the rug.

The powder room has neutral silk wall coverings, a floating vanity with four large drawers, and a vessel sink. The crystal sconces on either side of the vanity mirror add an elegant touch as well as bursts of light and color.

Because the owners enjoy cooking, Ruta outfitted the kitchen with state-of-the-art features, including commercial-style appliances and an abundance of cabinets with a painted lacquered finish.

“The crown I used in the kitchen is stainless steel to accentuate the modern commercial-style look,” Ruta explained. An oversized island, sitting beneath crystal pendant lighting, has a second sink. The countertops and backsplash are metallic flecked quartz, echoing the neutrals and whites that abound on the first floor. Bold red leather chairs give the room some color.

Off to the side of the kitchen, a glass table with geometric footing and four red chairs completes the large space. An oval crystal chandelier over the table adds a touch of elegance to the functional room.


The master suite, with gray and lavender walls, is lavish and minimally treated at the same time. A tufted silver leather headboard, footboard, and bench give the room a luxurious feel. “The simplicity of textures and accessories stays true to the modern minimalist decor,” Ruta explained. A large mirror has a matching tufted frame, while a mirrored side table is decorated with crystal ornaments.

The master bath features white Carrera marble tiles on the walls in a stacked horizontal pattern. Individual his-and-hers vanities flank a window, while symmetrical mirrors and light fixtures balance the space. A complementary tile covers the floor, and a sleek, free-standing soaking tub and oversized shower area complete the room.

The main bath also features twin cabinet vanities, full porcelain tile walls, and a basket weave-pattern tile floor to achieve a sophisticated look.

Ruta enjoyed the project and bringing a different, reimagined life to the traditional residence. “It is refreshing to see some of the homes in our area adapting to a contemporary style, which adds to the diversity of our beautiful neighborhood,” she said.

Elegant Interior Designs, Inc.
917.294.4100 /