Kensington resident and interior designer Claudia Grunberger was on hand to receive the Metropolitan Institute of Design’s first annual Best Interior Design on Long Island (BIDOLI) Awards for her work at a ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Grunberger’s firm Grunberger Interiors took home a prize, the various categories of which were made available to Metropolitan Institute graduates, for her savvy design of a master bathroom in one of her client’s houses. With only a low budget and an 11’x13’ rectangle of a room to work with, Grunberger knew right away she would have her work cut out for her trying to maximize the potential of the space.
“The challenge, if you’re not doing a major relocation and expansion, is how to make that same space feel as well as look different,” Grunberger said. “They had complained it was very dark and very confining. It felt like a box, to be quite honest, and it was very traditional. They wanted something very upscale and luxurious.”
Marching orders firmly in hand, Grunberger set about transforming that cramped box of a bathroom into what has, so far, proven to be the master stroke of her relatively short career.
“The only way to achieve such a total transformation was really through changing the materials that were used in the bathroom,” Grunberger said. “The finishes, the lighting and the overall color scheme.”
Grunberger remade the bathroom with Calacatta Gold marble, a glass faux-fireplace and a solid-stone two-person tub, along with complementary reworkings of the plumbing fixtures, inviting paint with green subtones and a total reboot of the lighting system that allows for the space to be either bright and glowing or dim and low-key. By the time she was finished, her clients were stunned.
“It really, really did not feel like the same space,” she said. “Even though everything was in the same position that it had been prior.”
Long before she settled in Kensington and started her firm, the London-born Grunberger was drawn strongly to the arts, and graduated from University College London with a double major in French and Italian. Her studies brought her through cities like Paris and Florence, and later on she lived for a time in Antwerp after marrying her Belgian husband before ultimately relocating to Great Neck.
That itinerant lifestyle also prevented her from settling in on a career, but being exposed to the art and architecture of so many cities gave her ample fodder for inspiration that she draws from constantly as a designer. But Grunberger balances her own tastes and experience with an ever-present philosophy that her customer’s input be paramount throughout the process.
“I’m there to guide them and not to impose what I think is the best thing,” Grunberger said. “Really, the ultimate decisions lay with them. It really has to be for them, and the decisions should be made by them.”
Anybody looking to work with Grunberger can visit her firm’s website at grunbergerinteriors.com.