An Artful Home Design Collaboration in Woodbrook

At Realtor Stephen Mottola’s “maximalist” Woodbrook home, friend and designer Megan Gorelick helped him layer art, antiques and other collectibles.
Words by Drew Limsky, Photographs by Don Pearse

When a designer and client are neighbors and longtime friends, a seamless collaboration results.

Megan Gorelick, principal of Megan Gorelick Interiors, and Stephen Mottola, head of the Mottola Group real estate agency, have one of those special, long-standing designer-client relationships. Here’s the origin story: Gorelick’s mother owned an estate sale business, and a precocious, 14-year-old Mottola made his first antique purchase from her. It was, Gorelick recalls, a sterling silver tea set.

Cut to 2020 and the two are neighbors in two locations: They live on the same road in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, as well as on the same street—Country Club Drive, which borders the DuPont Country Club—in Woodbrook. They’re also friends.

Green furnishings are Mottola’s nod to the golf course: a custom sofa wrapped in Kravet fabric; Windsor chairs painted a modern, high-gloss hue; and  grass-cloth wall coverings. Stylish  yet comfortable seating throughout, complete with stain-resistant fabrics, reflects a love of entertaining and practicality.

“Since I’ve known him, he’s been in 20 different homes, and I’ve helped with all of them,” Gorelick says. “He will buy a house, renovate it, live in it, make it a show house and then he finds another project and moves on.”

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When Mottola purchased the Woodbrook house, she helped him renovate—again.

More than 50 pieces of original art grace the home.

“This project is a true collaboration—he really should be a decorator,” she says. Part of his success as a Realtor is that he’s so adept at spatial vision. He can walk in and see it right away.”

More than 50 pieces of original art grace the home, from local to global. Often an art-loving homeowner has a tendency to keep things neutral, so the eye goes right to the collection. Not in this case. Colors and patterns proliferate.

“I call him a maximalist,” Gorelick says. “I thought I coined that, but it’s actually a term. He likes layers upon layers upon layers.”

But when Mottola moves to a new home, the layers remain. The personal effects travel: “He takes his antiques, collectibles and artwork with him, and then we start fresh with lighting, wallpaper, upholstery, carpets.”

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While Mottola lives alone, Gorelick calls him “people person.” “I call him Gatsby, because he’s constantly having great, fun parties,” she says. “And he does a million charity events.”

An eye for entertaining

During the milder months, guests are drawn to the stunning stone patio off the family room. “The inspiration for this was the kind of loggias you see in Florida houses,” Gorelick says. “We did a home for him in Florida and replicated this outdoor space here.”

The loggia is set beneath a steeply pitched beadboard roof painted pale blue and studded with skylights. The party space is anchored by old and new: a concrete fountain that the owner picked up at an estate sale, and a vast stacked-stone fireplace with a mounted TV. The painted vintage chairs and settees also came from an estate sale; old habits die hard. “We had them reupholstered in a Sunbrella fabric,” she says. The plush cushions, eminently inviting, are a mix of beige solids and prints.

Turning to the interiors, Gorelick provides context about this home and its history: “These homes were built in the ’60, often for DuPont executives,” she explains. “My house was very similar—a lot of rooms, the dining room closed off from the living room. So when he renovated, he opened it all up so it had flow. Again, its purpose was for entertaining.” Because Mottola wanted to nod to the golf course, he specified greens and browns in the family room. (Though not a golfer, he does like the views of the greens.)

The home was designed with entertaining in mind.

A custom green sofa, wrapped in Kravet fabric, was treated to withstand wine stains; Gorelick had Windsor chairs painted in high-gloss green. “It really put a modern twist on the Windsor chairs,” the designer says, with evident approval. A handsome bookcase sparkles with an antique mirror backing and picture lights, while a green-hued grass-cloth wall covering completes the color scheme. The hair-on-hide zebra ottoman, while seemingly thrown in as a surprise, was actually part of the owner’s existing collection.

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The slightly more formal living room immediately catches the eye with its custom-made back-to-back sofas. “I had this vision early on of two separate seating spaces and I wanted the sofas to be back-to-back, which is one of my favorite looks, and he embraced that idea,” Gorelick remembers. The sofas are covered in velvet with a Schumacher trim. The designer also had Mottola’s rounded vintage chairs reupholstered in Schumacher. The ceiling—in a high gloss from Fine Paints of Europe—reflects it all.

The dining is dominated by a McGuire table and Chippendale chairs with monogrammed flaps designed by Gorelick’s daughter Bailey, who also works at the firm. The family’s singular talents are apparent in the kitchen as well, where the Carrara marble island is accompanied by the kind of upholstered barstools not typically found among pots and pans. In this case, they’re treated with durable, stain-resistant Crypton performance fabric. “It looks fragile but it’s not. He loves these barstools,” she says of her friend. “This is a private-label barstool that we do, and any of my clients who have these barstools always take them to their next homes.” Gorelick says they’re “super-comfortable—like a chair but with barstool legs.” Who could argue with the best of both worlds, seating-wise?

The cozy master suite features a statement headboard, high ceilings and more.

When the party’s over and Mottola finally retires upstairs, he finds solace in a cozy master suite. “Stephen has an affinity for high headboards,” Gorelick says of the queen-size bed, “so we made it as high as it could go to fit in that room.” The fabric on the headboard, side rails and footboard was customized with a signature nail head design and a welt finish. It rests on a Karastan rug. The high-gloss ceiling reflects a man of strong tastes—and contentment, happy with his festive house, and happy to de-stress away from the revelry.

Most of all, the house says him. And that only happens with a designer who knows her client well. “Typically, the clients are involved,” Gorelick says with affection, “but not to this level.”

Published as “Mind Meld” in the November 2020 issue of Delaware Today.

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