Where do Jersey millionaires buy furniture? – from Asbury Park Press
Posted on Jun 04 2015
When you walk inside Zaksons Fine Furniture in Brick, you’ll immediately be greeted by a beautiful array of showrooms featuring high-end furniture that ranges from traditional to contemporary.
The tranquil, cozy showroom masks the bustling activity happening behind-the-scenes. Take a walk through one of the back rooms or downstairs and you’ll find an intricate business happening with a staff of more than 30 people working tirelessly to create your dream home.
Downstairs, you’ll find a man who goes by the name “Ricci G.” touching up chairs with a fine toothpick before they’re delivered to customers. He shouts, “Beautiful!” every time a piece is smooth to the touch. In the back, you’ll find eight interior designers putting together storyboards for various clients.
Stephen Zekaria, who opened Zaksons fine furniture and interior design store with his brother Joseph 43 years ago when he was 19, said a home isn’t just a place to reside, it’s a space where you can showcase your identity.
“I feel furniture brings a family together. It’s a meeting place,” Zekaria said. “I truly believe a comfortable home can bring the children home after a long day. And if you’re single, it’s a space where you can show off your individuality.”
The Zekaria brothers first opened the store in Toms River on Route 37. It was a fraction of the size it is today, selling quality women’s clothing and household items.
The store today, 729 Brick Boulevard in Brick, has transformed into an interior design mecca where you can find fine furniture, art, accessories, lighting, draperies, more than 50,000 fabrics and a staff of highly trained individuals ready to assist your every need.
Zekaria, who’s grown up working in the home decor and furniture industry, said years ago individuals took pride in what their home looked like — owning a home was an accomplishment.
“When I grew up, I walked by a company called W. & J. Sloane. It was where I lived on Northern Boulevard in Long Island … It was the most beautiful stuff you’ve ever seen in your life. I walked by their window, it really sparked me. I should’ve been playing basketball. Instead, I was looking at furniture in the furniture store windows.”
Today, however, Zekaria said high-end quality furniture stores that sell American-made products are hard to come by. Zekaira said Zaksons is meant to inspire people again — to help people create a space that reflects their personality.
Whether you’re looking to redesign your bathroom or your entire house, Zaksons has hired a team of eight interior designers with extensive knowledge.
Retta Schwartzstein, who’s been been working as an interior designer at Zaksons for 25 years, said her love for interior design started when she was a little girl rearranging her mother’s furniture, trying to find the perfect placement.
Schwartzstein’s always had a visual mind.
“When I would go anywhere, I always knew exactly what was in the rooms,” she said. “Even when I was in school, if I was taking a test, I could picture in my mind what was on the page.”
“We go on buying trips and Retta always has a notebook,” Zeikara said. “She’s always doodling and sketching what she sees that she wants to incorporate into her clients’ designs.”
Her love stems from combining different colors with fabrics while also working with a variety of personalities that seek her expertise.
“I love the camaraderie I have with my clients. My clients become my friends,” Schwartzstein said. “I try to get to know each of them and their lifestyle — what colors they’re comfortable with. It’s very important (to get to know) their lifestyle because we deal with people on the beach, people with apartments in Manhattan. It’s from one extreme to the other … Children, no children? (Do they have) animals?”
Senior Interior Designer Jolinda Lee said she started working for Zaksons when Zekaira was peeking through her storefront windows at her old crystal china business in Red Bank.
He walked in one day, asking that Lee work for him as an interior designer, and now she’ll be celebrating her 33-year anniversary at Zaksons this week.
When asked how many homes she’s designed in her lifetime, she replies, “Impossible.”
Throughout her career, she’s designed homes in North Jersey, the Hamptons, Staten Island, Pennsylvania, Florida, you name it.
Lee says when it comes to designing a home, nothing should be cookie-cutter. Over the years, her inspiration comes from traveling throughout Europe, visiting museums to explore the art scene and culture as well as keeping up with current fashion and color trends.
Today, Lee said customers are looking for a less formal, more relaxed way of living.
“I furnish homes that people can live in rather than (homes) that will just take pretty pictures,” Lee said.
Whether she’s decorating a one bedroom apartment or a mini mansion, Lee said her main job is listening to the client.
“I embrace different personalities and different living quarters,” Lee said. “I decorate from traditional to transitional to contemporary. At the end of the day, it’s their home, not mine. It’s very important to get a feeling of who they are and what their needs are and their lifestyle, not mine.”
For more information, call 732-477-8400