As they say, “Better late than never”,  and so it goes for my room at this year’s Mansion In May. Although it is already over, the house opened on the first of May preceded by a fabulous and fun Preview Gala under a tent on the property of the stately Alnwyk Hall in Morristown, New Jersey.


The theme of the gala was ‘The Great Gatsby” which was a perfect compliment for the room I chose on the first floor which I named “The Ante Room”


The space was small, but strategically placed between the living room and grand reception hall. I imagined visitors being asked to wait while the lady of the house came downstairs to greet them. I decided on an Art Deco theme from the very beginning. The room had two ceiling fixtures in place which would call for a pair of matching chandeliers, small in scale but grand enough to make a statement. Looking at the BEFORE photos makes it hard to imagine that this room could be transformed, but I had hope. Structurally, it was intact, it just needed lots of architectural interest.


My sketches for the room included crown moldings to house cove lighting, chair rail, a fake fireplace mantel, mirrored boxes and decorative corner details.


After calculating how much wood was necessary, I dragged Hubby and my power tools to the room to begin. He would cut and I installed. The room was only 10’6″ x 13′ but the ceiling was 9′ so I needed his help to hold up the crown while I nailed. We make such a good team!


The dropped ceiling in the room did not hide an older decorative plaster ceiling as in the rest of the house, so I chose to keep the ceiling and just paint it all black. Between the air ducts, speakers, fire sprinkler and light boxes, there were just too many things going on to try and disguise them, so the black made them all disappear.

I purchased two 100 light strings of white LED Christmas lights and attached them to the crown molding to put indirect lighting onto the ceiling, creating a glow.


After the moldings were finished, I was able to paint the upper half. I chose a shade of blue from Benjamin Moore, who was the paint sponsor of the house. It turns out that mostly everyone on the first floor chose blue without knowing we would all match.


The wallpaper was chosen because it looked like the walls were tufted, but for a fraction of that cost. 12″ mirrored tiles made it easy to direct glue to the insides of the boxes.


I made Art Deco decorative corner pieces to apply over the mirror and applied high shine silver tape for an added detail.




The carpet in the room was removed to reveal a badly damaged parquet floor, so that was replaced with a smooth paint grade plywood. I sketched out my design,


I copied the pattern using green “frog” tape as it does not let the paint bleed like the popular blue kind.


I then painted the diamonds alternating black and white.  I only needed one coat of each color as it was heavy duty exterior patio paint.


When all was done , a simple pull of the tape reveals nice clean edges. I finished with four coats of polyurethane.


Because the room was so small I knew I would have very little room for furniture, so my accessories also had to make a statement. I decided to make a copy of a painting from the very well known Art Deco artits, Tamara de Lampika, except with my own twist. This is the original that I chose to copy;


And this is my 36″ x 48″ version. I dressed her in hot pink for a fun pop of color!


and hung on the wall


Some closeups of room detail…ceramic buildings


I had cornices and drapery panels made to give the illusion of windows and to cover unsightly items on the wall.



A 60″ round custom banquette was made for the center of the room


Calla lillies in a silver vase…The photos of my grandparents have gone into every showhouse I have done since the 80’s!


The crystal chandeliers were a perfect fit for the room as were the decorative peacocks.

And the finished product! (photos by Wing Wong Memories TTL.)

_W1A1262-70 Sue Niblo Space 6 (from door to inside) sm

_W1A1271-78 Sue Niblo Space 6 (to painting) sm



  1. What a talent you are!!! I love your ante room, Sue. Hope you’re enjoying Barcelona. I’m thrilled with Umbria. Peter returned today to tuxedo park. Love to you and Kevin, Diana

    Sent from my iPad



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