When Harris Faulkner stands on the roof deck of her family’s townhouse in Edgewater, N.J., she has a fine view of the Hudson River agleam in the sun, the George Washington Bridge off to the left and the ferry as it pulls away from the terminal and heads for the Far West Side of Manhattan.
In the days before the pandemic, Ms. Faulkner, 54, routinely took that ferry to her anchor job at the Fox News Channel.
Since spring, however, she has been working from a home studio, an interloper in the man cave of her husband, Tony Berlin, for the broadcasts of her back-to-back weekday news and discussion programs, “Outnumbered” and “Outnumbered Overtime.”
Nearly five years ago, Ms. Faulkner and Mr. Berlin, the owner of a media relations company, decided they were outgrowing the townhouse they shared with their daughters, Bella, now 13, and Danika, 11.
“I was out walking the neighborhood, and I looked down the street we live on now, and I thought, ‘Wow, it looks like they’re building something down there,’” Ms. Faulkner said. “And I thought, ‘Wow, I have to keep my eye on that.’”
A few weeks later, she took a second reconnaissance stroll, this time with Mr. Berlin, and by chance, the couple ran into the developer who was visiting the construction site. They expressed their strong interest in the property, and because they got in on the ground floor, were able to add custom features — among them, a garage for each of them and dark-gray ash wood flooring on the stairs.
“The builder showed me a little sketch of the kitchen, and I said, ‘But there’s no laundry right there. And what about a pantry?’ And the builder looked at my husband,” Ms. Faulkner recalled. “Then I said, ‘There isn’t enough counter space,’ and I sketched out a 12-foot-long island.”
Once again, the builder shot Mr. Berlin a look that translated roughly to “She does realize she doesn’t own this house yet, right?”
Harris Faulkner, 54
Occupation: Television journalist
Getting in shape: “I’m glad we have the type of house we do, with a lot of open square and rectangular rooms. I’ve lived in some beautiful vintage houses with archways and weird angles, where you have to put a chair in a certain place and you can’t move it, because it won’t fit anywhere else.”
“I wanted to catch things very early,” Ms. Faulkner said defensively. “Because, obviously, I had a plan. And you know: He built the island exactly the way I wanted.”
Partly because of its proximity to the water, partly because of the expansive deck, the anchor mat outside the front door, the light, airy rooms and the starring role played by the color blue, Ms. Faulkner’s home feels more beach house than townhouse.
Mr. Berlin, she said, was most assuredly not on the decorating committee when the family moved in four years ago. She handled the job herself, inspired by her mother, Shirley Harris, an Army wife who had a keen sense of style joined with an ability to inject warmth and character into the most featureless military housing. (Ms. Faulkner’s father, Bob Harris, known simply as Harris during his years in the service, was also a source of inspiration. Daughter wanted to be like dad, and persuaded her parents to change her first name to “Harris.” She took the last name of a distant family member so as not to be Harris Harris.)
“My mom’s big thing was that the kitchen is not only where everyone comes, but where everyone should want to come, so there should always be a treaty-treat out,” Ms. Faulkner said of Mrs. Harris, who died in late November of 2016 and never got to see the house. “Her whole thing was that you should have a clear counter space to leave out snacks.”
Thus, the marble-topped island that was hastily drawn for the property developer.
Let’s just say that mother gave daughter her marching orders. “Blue is important to me, so what my mom would say is, ‘Then let me see blue everyplace you go in the house — but in different textures, and don’t make it obvious,’” Ms. Faulkner said.
She pointed, first, to the tufted navy-blue velvet sofa in the family room, just off the kitchen, with the blue theme picked up on accent pillows in the living room. Blue is also represented in the pattern of the cushions on the chairs around the dining table and in a custom-made abstract painting.
A plant on a shelf in the living room nestles in an azure pot. Nearby is a photo of a beach Ms. Faulkner and Mr. Berlin hiked on the big island of Hawaii; an expanse of royal-blue water features prominently. (Admittedly, it’s pure coincidence that the mats on the living room floor, an accommodation to the resident gymnasts, Danika and Bella, are also blue.)
“My mother used to tell me that my taste — how did she put it? — she said it didn’t have texture,” Ms. Faulkner said. “She told me I had a very flat-page way of decorating. She used to say, ‘Let’s make life more beautiful. Just make it beautiful.’”
Message received, Mom. On a wall in the dining room hangs an artwork made from trash, a work by women living in a village outside of Cape Town. During a trip to Amsterdam several years ago, Ms. Faulkner, a self-described bovine lover, had a ceramic cow made in her favorite colors — blue included, of course. It stands on the white acrylic buffet in the dining room next to a multicolored string bowl made by Danika for a fund-raiser to feed the hungry in Hoboken, N.J.
“My mother challenged me,” Ms. Faulkner said. “She said, ‘Let your life experience help you decorate, and be part of the texture. Things don’t have to be matchy-matchy, and they don’t have to have meaning to anyone but you.’”
In fact, the pieces that seem to have the greatest meaning to Ms. Faulkner are those that once belonged to Mrs. Harris: the blue-gray china stored in a glass-fronted cabinet in the dining room; the doll collection; a crystal dog; an elaborate wooden birdhouse (“She loved birdhouses and bird cages because they were emblems of hope,” Ms. Faulkner said); a red Asian-style chest that holds hundreds of recipes written out in Mrs. Harris’s meticulous cursive.
“You can see the markings on the chest. It has made a lot of moves, and I’m so grateful that I’ve got it here now,” Ms. Faulkner said.
“My mother would tell me, ‘If there’s something you want when I’m gone, let me know and you can have it,’” she continued. “And I would say, ‘Mom, that’s a terrible thing to say!’ And she said, ‘Well, you won’t feel that way when I’m gone, because your house is going to look better.’”
For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.