The Atrium—with its beautifully molded details, illuminated ceiling grid and double-column appointed corners, offering open space to long, wide hallways—almost makes us forget that this is a room without windows. Art is a great means to transport us beyond our daily struggles; it reminds us of something greater and bigger. With this thought to inspire, I imagined Blairsden's upstairs space as a private gallery and family retreat. For this, I referenced my experience with homes over 20,000 square feet and my visits to the world's greatest museums, where I studied how art is meant to be viewed: beyond white walls, in rooms filled with quality and devoid of pretention. To me, definitions of home and interior design as a discipline involves the same principles as those that guide art: To learn about and serve tribute to the great beauty of the past, but interpret it in a way to make it of our times, to make it relevant and to speak to our common souls.


James Yarosh has been selected to design "An Art Collector's Sanctuary" for the 2014 "Mansion in May." This year's signature fundraiser for the Women's Association of Morristown Medical Center is set at Blairsden, the largest estate ever built in the Somerset Hills, located in Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey. Designed and constructed between 1898 and 1903, Blairsden, a 62,000-square-foot Louis XIV chateau-style mansion, was the masterpiece of the renowned architecture firm of Carrere and Hastings, who also designed the New York Public Library, the Frick Mansion in New York City and the U.S. Senate and House office buildings. It will be open to the public May 1–31.

"I am honored by this opportunity and my role of using an artist's eye in creating the home's Atrium into a room befitting of a connoisseur of fine art, who enjoys living with his collections in a way that honors the heritage and history of this great estate," says Yarosh. "The space became a study of color and was inspired by the idea of artistry appreciated by a collector to want every facet of his home curated for beauty."

As a designer, Yarosh travels the world, studying how the greatest museums display their collections, and visits artist's homes to understand how the artists themselves live with their art. To create an authentic experience, Yarosh visited the Frick Museum and met with Joseph Godla, the chief conservator of the Frick Collection, who discussed how the museum successfully used lighting within a mansion in a way that was both state-of-the-art but that remained in harmony with the aesthetics. "For me, definitions of home and interior design as a discipline involve the same principles as those that guide art: To learn about and serve tribute to the great beauty of the past, but interpret it in a way to make it of our times, to make it relevant and to speak to our common souls," says Yarosh. "An Art Collector's Sanctuary" will contain fine art curated by Yarosh, which will become "the Blairsden Collection." "I drew upon my gallery's collection of artists and brought in works from Germany, Canada, the Ukraine and Russia to serve as what I propose as the finest and most favored pieces to be housed in the art collector's personal retreat and in an upstairs room that he shares with only his most honored guests," Yarosh says. "This very special exhibition of artists is made even more enjoyable because careful attention has been paid to creating hand-carved and gold-leaf frames—with my master frame carver—especially for this show house presentation."

Showcased will be an internationally recognized and varied collection of original fine art representing both traditional works, such as Russian Realism paintings, as well as more modern artists' paintings and photography in a variety of price ranges.

Period antiques included in the installation are worthy of a collector. A pair of 18th/19th-century Empire gilt-and-green lacquered chairs, which will flank the fireplace, complements new pieces such as a custom borne settee. "The Hill Brown Clarence House fabrics with their rich blues and forest-green so perfectly in tune with nature and of an artist's palette are also an example of the rooms collaboration of today's best artisans and keeps the room of our times," says Yarosh. "A 300-year-old tapestry will serve as the floor's center art piece and as the collector's magic carpet. A custom-scribed hall carpet will surround the room in sea of dark-green warmth. A collection of Lalique crystal vases will be featured among piles of art books as well as the 'Seville' sconces that remarkably marry the fireplace molding surround as the homes' timeline of Blairdsen's French architecture, foretelling design movements like the deeply carved Deco scrolls made perfect by—and now so signature of—René Lalique." A folded Russian Neoclassic game table is placed by the fireplace with an Empire chair to marry with one of the Louis dark-green painted chairs set by the fireplace, suggesting intimate moments during morning coffee or the evening's nightcap. A filled Empire-period magazine stand furthers the intended use of the room for leisure time. A French dark-green lacquer and bronze doré trimmed secretary serves as an elegant place for the writing of thank-you notes and cards.

"To me, this room symbolizes a space in which the art collector can spend a lifetime of Sunday mornings. It's where one can discover intimate truths of one's life, reflect in this secure and quiet space, and truly connect with love ones in a room dedicated to beauty and the arts," Yarosh says. "Art, after all, is a great means to transport us beyond our daily struggles and remind us of something greater and bigger."

About James Yarosh Associates

Established in 1996, the James Yarosh Associates Fine Art Gallery in Holmdel was founded upon and remains loyal to its vision: to represent fine art for art's sake and to curate gallery collections and thoughtfully present art with an artist's eye and understanding. As a gallery owner, Yarosh has received national critical acclaim for presenting Russian fine art collections and recognizing significant art movements in their early stages. Drawing upon both international and regional resources, Yarosh represents a variety of artistic voices of our times by showcasing the works of both new and established, museum-recognized, artists of merit in a space designed to replicate the intimacy of an artist's home.

Blairsden Mansion photographed by Jarette Atkins 2014