When glimpsing this beautiful home in its quaint Manasquan neighborhood you may think it’s always been there, and that’s precisely what Salt Design Co. and architect Robert Dooley set out to do. This home was designed with attention to architectural details and the thoughtful use of space that hint at a custom new build with classic charm.
At the top of the homeowner’s list was a functional and welcoming kitchen, which was the center of their childhood home. With this show-stopping kitchen, we believe this tradition will carry on in their new home. Enjoy surfing the classic style and coastal charm in this home, perfectly captured by Raquel Langworthy.
Tell us about the inception of Salt Design Co. How did you begin, and who were you designing for?
I founded Salt Design Co. in 2014 after turning a lifelong dream into reality. I was working in Finance at the time, and knew I wanted to pursue a more creative career path. Being the daughter of a residential contractor, I grew up on job sites and after years of freelance designing for family and friends I decided to go all in. I opened the first storefront in Asbury Park that summer and soon after was presented with our first design projects. We started off small, with a few single-room designs, but through our storefront, word of mouth and social media demand grew quickly.
What did you do before becoming an interior designer? Did your previous career help shape what you do now?
Prior to becoming an Interior Designer I worked in Sales and Trading at Morgan Stanley on the Equity Derivatives desk. A far cry from what I am doing now! I started there a month after graduating college and it took me 7 years to realize that I was craving more creativity. That said, the lessons I learned working at a corporate firm have formed who I am today. Professionalism, the importance of structure and quality customer service are all areas that I stress within our daily operations at Salt. Between my years in undergrad and working at MS, I spent virtually a decade in the world of business and in finance specifically. Those skills helped me to establish a profitable business plan and a unique business model that creates a mutually beneficial relationship between Salt and our full-service interior design clients.
You have an incredible team at Salt Design Co. When did you begin hiring and do you have any tips for those out there who are thinking of expanding their business?
We have the best team at Salt! We are a group of hard-working women that love to design and get the job done, but not without laughter and fun along the way. I have been so lucky to cultivate the team that we currently have (all 14 of us!). I made my first hire shortly after we opened to help assist in the retail store. By luck, a friend had told a recent FIT grad with a degree in Interior Design that I was looking to hire, so she reached out and the rest is history. Fast forward 6.5 years and Jessica is now one of our Lead Designers!
I am so grateful that that theme has continued throughout the years as well, with most of my employees being organic hires based on referrals or proactive candidates reaching out to inquire about potential opportunities.
My advice to anyone thinking of expanding would be: put together a business plan. Where do you want your business to be in a year, in five years? Bigger is not always better, and additional employees means a greater managerial component to your role. I always try to hire for the areas that I feel I could be better at. For me, that is the technical side of Interior Design due to the fact that I am not formally trained. Be specific about what skills you need and what the job role looks like, and don’t settle if you can’t find the perfect candidate.
Can you tell us a bit about the home we’re featuring today?
For this house, our clients wanted their new construction home to be modern with vintage accents and fresh while maintaining a warm, familial vibe. She grew up with a table at the center of her kitchen, rolling out dough and creating memories with her family. This story became the root of inspiration for not only the kitchen, but also for the home in its entirety. A vintage table anchors the kitchen in place of a traditional island, a reclaimed wood door becomes the pocket door to the pantry, and an old set of oars, once buried in the original home, accent the entryway.
Confined to a smaller lot size, the homeowners decided to scale this new build house to suit the quaint neighborhood in Manasquan, New Jersey. The flow of the house was purposefully thought out to make the best use of space, while the core focus revolved around the architectural and structural elements of the home. We wanted to incorporate eye-catching statements, like a cement tile fireplace surround and green kitchen cabinets, while keeping the furnishings neutral, textural and homey.
Walk us through your creative process. How do you and your team begin?
It started with our client’s inspiration. We knew we were delving into a true beach house, but we wanted to approach in a tasteful way–incorporating vintage finds and key pieces that would weren’t so literal.
In general, we always start with a design meeting along with our client. We discuss in-depth their needs for each space and the vision they are hoping to achieve. We ask them how they want the space to feel when it’s done. We pay careful attention to how they anticipate using the space and walk through inspiration images to help determine what they are most drawn to. From there, the design team gets creative and we block out a general direction for each room. That is always the most fun meeting!
How would you describe your design style? If we were to tour all of your homes what common thread would hold them all together?
The Salt style is ever-evolving. We specialize in a refined casual aesthetic, with fresh and eclectic accents. I always try to blend modern with traditional, and I love incorporating unique, vintage pieces in a sea of “new”. Overall, I like to design timeless spaces that are clean, fresh and functional.
The kitchen in this home is stunning! The green cabinets are an inspired surprise. How did you decide on this color and would mind sharing the color name? What advice can you share about adding color to our homes?
Thank you! The cabinets are Sherwin Williams Rocky River. We knew we wanted the kitchen to feel less like a kitchen and more furniture-like. Ultimately we decided this would be a great place to introduce color compared to the more traditional avenues such as wall paint or upholstery fabric. We were deciding between navy and green for the kitchen cabinetry, and we pushed for this rich green for a more unique approach to a beach house.
In terms of adding color to your home, I love a neutral, organic palette, so I am always drawing inspiration from nature. It doesn’t always have to be as straight forward as ocean blue or grass green. Recently I used a soft terra cotta to pull the color from a natural leather, and I am a proponent of considering the balance of both color and texture simultaneously. I also love introducing color in more unexpected locations (such as the cabinetry) as it gives it more importance. My biggest piece of advice: every color looks different in every home, so always test out colors in the desired space prior to making a final decision. And remember – don’t always trust photos on Instagram. It is a great place to gain inspiration, but always check the color in your own space.
This home is rich in texture and pattern. Do you have advice on how we can integrate this cozy vibe into our own homes?
Layers! Of course we always start with the building blocks – the large furniture pieces. From there we layer in pillows, throws, window treatments and decorative accessories. Each piece adding a unique color and texture to the space. Make sure to vary the textures and scale of each piece, and try to mix old and new pieces.
In terms of pattern, less is more. Pick one or two places to add pattern, and if you are using multiple patterns, be sure to choose items with differing scale.
Were there any hurdles or ‘aha’ moments that helped shape the outcome of this home’s design?
Absolutely! A large renovation or new construction home is never without issues. There are always areas of compromise, and this project was no exception. Originally we had designed a completely different fireplace, but realized it wasn’t going to be feasible from a construction and budget perspective. We worked on a few new iterations of the design, ultimately landing on the patterned tile, and we are so happy that we did! It adds so much personality and character to the space. Similarly, while designing the kitchen, we came across a picture of an old pocket door and knew we needed to add that design element to the pantry. We searched an architectural salvage yard and found the perfect vintage door. After some serious elbow grease it was the perfect vintage element to our brand new kitchen.
What does a well-lived home mean to you?
To me a well-lived home is a home that functions for those living in it while remaining beautifully designed. We want our spaces to be carefully thought out and deliberate in their design, achieving the feel that the client envisioned. When we achieve that perfect balance between function and beauty that is a well-lived home.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back and tell yourself when first starting your business?
I would remind myself that you are as good as your team! Initially, I took on too much, overloading myself. I wish I had focused more on developing and building my team prior to launching.
Can you share a few Instagram accounts right now that are fueling your creativity?
I took a trip to the Cotswolds in England Fall of 2019 (when you could travel) and since then I have been so inspired by British and European design. Here are a few of my current favorites:
Love what you see? Take a peek at the talent behind the story… Interior Design: Sarah Brady & Kiera Gannon of Salt Design Co. · Photography: Raquel Langworthy · Builder: Taylor Built Homes · Architect: Robert G. Dooley