Creating a home for a client they never met, an intrepid pair of Safavieh designers makes everyone happy.

An air of calm suffuses this living room in Short Hills, New Jersey, which Safavieh designers created for an Asian client that wanted a thoroughly American look. Soft hues and symmetrical arrangements contribute a sense of refinement.

A muted palette was used throughout the home at the client’s request. Eye-catching colors are reserved for artwork, flowers and the occasional throw pillow.

Personal chemistry usually plays a role in the choice of an interior designer. So it was unusual—almost unheard of, in fact—when a group of Asian friends from the San Francisco area commissioned Safavieh remotely to create their new East Coast homes, never having met the design team. First up would be a newly constructed house, which you see here, in Short Hills, New Jersey.

The project was embraced by Esther Rubin and Michelle Townsend, designers based at Safavieh’s Paramus showroom. “The client’s wishes were simple,” says Rubin. “Keep each room on the contemporary side of traditional style. Make the color palette neutral—whites and grays.” Other than neutrals, color in the finished rooms comes from accents alone— paintings on the walls, plants and flowers, metallic trim and the occasional throw pillow.

Says Townsend, “Design in absentia actually worked quite well. We emailed and texted photographs, and used regular mail to send fabric swatches. The client approved choices every step of the way. Even so, having the client step into the finished space sight unseen was a bit unnerving, but—whew!— they were very happy with their new home. And now that the client has moved in, we’re continuing to work together on some finishing touches.”

The lesson seems clear: In the digital age, distance need not be a barrier to success in personalized, custom interior design—especially when you choose the right professionals.

In the master bedroom, rich materials such as velvet and sheepskin lend some dramatic flourish.