MORRISTOWN, NJ – From a chilly, dim, empty shell, Glynallyn mansion has been transformed into a warm, welcoming, breathtaking home.
The stately Glynallyn, this year’s Mansion in May, has been renovated from top to bottom by some of the area’s best interior designers and landscapers. As with every mansion project since the Women’s Association of Morristown Medical Center started the program in 1974, the restored home will be open for tours during May. The Women’s Association will sell tickets to see the home, or for an additional cost, will give private tours with more additional information about what the designers’ thought processes were in each of the areas. Proceeds will benefit Morristown Medical Center.
Glynallyn is a three-story, 32,000 square-foot mansion that was built from 1913-1917 by George Marshall Allen. It has changed hands several times over the years.
Charles Dobbs of Greenbaum Interiors of Paterson designed the front entryway with a theme he calls “Handsome Little Devil.” Throw pillows and plants soften the stark look of the tiny entryway into the little hall where Dobbs used the homes dark wood beams as a backdrop to create a cozy space. A polished wood table is modern but with Gothic lines that blend with the feel of the mansion. A light-colored sofa and fabric-covered screen behind it give the room warmth, while a mischievously grinning devil lamp next to the sofa gives the space its name.
"This is different than designing for a client who might have specific things in mind," said Alexandria Como of Dreyers Design Gallery of Chatham, who took a tiny coat room and made it into a Ming China closet. "I really had a blank canvas to work with."
Off the spacious Great Hall, itself resplendent in designs by Barbara Ostrom of Barbara Ostrom Associates, are eye-popping rooms that each boast the vision and style of the individual designers, yet blend seamlessly to give the mansion the look of one lovely, palatial home. Carpets were donated by Cove Carpets of Summit. Even the dungeon, decorated by haute bungalow and Spring Street Dezigns, both of Chatham, looks less like a dungeon and more like a decorator magazine.
The breakfast room has been transformed by Creative Wallcoverings and Interiors of New Providence into what designer Rachel Kapner calls “Lady Allen’s Bower.” The wallpaper is raw silk and the room is infused with a gentle yellow color. The ceiling is painted with metallic paint and all the trim is painted with Benjamin Moore’s high-gloss paint.
The guest bedroom and bath was transformed by British Home Emporium of Madison into a gentleman’s retreat, called “Take Five,” an homage to jazz great Dave Brubeck. Laura Decker of British Home Emporium, said, "it is amazing how a traditional tudor style home can be transformed to this level; using an eclectic mix of traditional, industrial and modern styles accented with accessories from around the globe." It’s done in neutral colors with a masculine feel, the room features an oversized desk and chair, and a sitting area with a fireplace. Just off the room is a gray marbled bath.
Mrs. Allen’s bedroom upstairs is a spacious vision of luxury, complete with a furry white rug, large bed, elegant furnishings and a hand-painted ceiling done with such fine detail it looks like wallpaper.
“The ceiling is really the fifth wall,” explained Diane Durocher of Diane Durocher Interiors, Inc. of Ramsey. “It is easy to not think of it as a space that needs decoration, but it can add so much to a room.”
Even the guest rooms weren’t forgotten. Laurie Finn of La Jolie Maison of Summit refurbished the guest suite living area.
Outside, Glynallyn’s once-magnificent gardens have been restored to their former glory by such landscape design firms as The Potted Garden and Cording Landscape Design. The grounds feature gardens like those the Allen’s originally planted, with stone statues and winding paths adding to the exterior elegance.
Today, Glynallyn resides on 7.5 acres and is privately owned and unoccupied. A portion of the property with the associated outlying buildings was sold as a separate lot, and the carriage house now serves as a private residence. Glynallyn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
For more information on Mansion in May, visit the Women's Assocations's website.