Ms. O’Mara, an artist who works in mixed media with materials like paint, paper pulp and ceramics, needed a studio like the one she and Mr. Uriu had built on their Montclair property. Mr. Uriu needed office space so he could sometimes work from home. And they had grown children who lived nearby.

“At a different point in my life, I would have said ‘one-third live space, two-thirds work space,’” Ms. O’Mara said. “But given we have a family and they visit, and grandchildren, we wanted it to be gracious and welcoming to our family and friends.”

according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.) But the couple’s willingness to choose unconventional materials allowed them to find savings where others might not have.

For a few splurges, they enlisted the help of friends in the design industry. Art in Construction, in Brooklyn, designed the pigmented plaster waterfall counter on the kitchen island and the veneer-plaster vanity counter in the master bathroom. An ironworker friend made the banisters for the two staircases.

Mr. Jordan looked for creative ways to add storage to the open space, installing built-in bookshelves on the staircases, along with a Putnam rolling ladder. Other playful flourishes included a hammock, a pulley system for storing bikes, and a seat made of netting that dangles from the banister on the landing of the studio staircase, creating an unexpected spot to read.

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