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© Brittany Ambridge

Project highlight

New Jersey waterfront condo

Location: Weehawken, New Jersey
Interior Designer: Kesha Franklin (Halden Interiors)
Project type: Private residence

Kesha Franklin uses color and art to bring happiness to a recent widow’s new home. The designer found every possible way to brighten her home—and spotlight all the good memories.

«She needed it to be a happy place», recalls designer Kesha Franklin of a recent project. But this seemingly simple design directive belied a much more nuanced task. Franklin, the founder of New Jersey–based Halden Interiors, had been enlisted by a set of siblings to help their recently widowed mother renovate her new waterfront condo in Weehawken.

© Brittany Ambridge

It’s sunny skies 24/7 with Omexco’s sisal sunflower wallpaper on the ceiling of this New Jersey condo

If anyone knew about new beginnings, it was the apartment’s owner, Patricia Hunter-Bunyan, a psychoanalyst and grief counselor. “There was a very interesting dynamic of a healer seeking healing,” says Franklin, who endeavored to “lift” the white-walled space to create a sophisticated backdrop for her client’s large—and meaningful—art collection, a mix of works by Black contemporary artists and pieces picked up during extensive travels with her late husband. It was a challenge, the designer says, that aligned perfectly with her own design style: “I love to bring in color, but at the same time, my work is streamlined.”

© Brittany Ambridge

Meeting her client’s emotional needs meant first tackling structural ones. “Two of my biggest frustrations with condo buildings like this are the lack of overhead lighting and storage,” says the designer. To address the former, Franklin reimagined the home’s lighting plan, adding recessed and decorative fixtures. High-shine finishes (like glossy kitchen cabinets and a metallic accent wall in the main bedroom) and mood-boosting yellow hues (most notably on the dining room ceiling) helped further reflect light.

mood-boosting yellow hues (most notably on the dining room ceiling) helped further reflect light.

© Brittany Ambridge

The setting complete, focus shifted to art. “Each artifact and picture displays our rich history, tradition, and culture of the past,” explains Hunter-Bunyan of her collection. Together, she and Franklin selected two dozen pieces to display in a back hallway, turning the passage into a private museum. When Hunter-Bunyan saw the finished gallery, Franklin recalls, she burst into tears—the happy kind. It was a fitting end to their journey: “It was an emotional project,” says the designer. “We figured out who she was in this space.”