A West Coast girl and an East Coast boy meet, marry and live happily ever after in Jersey City with two sons, a dog, and lots and lots of shoes.

Despite being based on opposite coasts, longtime shoe industry veterans, Erika and Roberto, had crossed paths a few times over the course of their careers. Erika was born in California and spent her life in the western half of the country, and Roberto is a Jersey City native who’s resided in New Jersey for all but a few years. After each had gone through a divorce, they met once more when Erika accepted a national buying role at Nordstrom in Seattle. After a cross-country courtship filled with Skype dates and frequent visits, the couple got engaged in 2012 and Erika quickly planned her eastern migration.


 For this bicoastal couple, the differences are more than geographical. It takes but a moment with Roberto and Erika to appreciate how her gregarious style and breezy California girl attitude is the perfect complement to Roberto’s dry wit. But when it came to housing, however, the two were in agreement; their initial long-term rental — an apartment at Henley Place on the Weehawken waterfront — wasn’t a great fit for the long haul. With Roberto’s two sons from his first marriage — 12-year-old Ryan and 8-year-old Jack — living with the couple part-time, the space was cramped. And its waterfront location, while scenic, meant it was a bit cut off from the rest of town, making getting around by car mandatory.

The couple yearned for community and space in a walkable neighborhood that was still convenient to Roberto’s New York City, Hell’s Kitchen office. An admitted real estate junkie — “She puts herself to bed looking at,” says Roberto — Erika set out to  find the perfect family home. “I came across Dixon Leasing early and kept my eye on their properties as they would come up,” she says.Throughout her searches, it became clear that Jersey City was a likely destination for the family. “I grew up here in Jersey City. I went to school at St. Peter’s Prep. My dad had a warehouse factory on Coles Street, right down the block. My mom had a dress store right on Newark Avenue,” recalls Roberto. “I always find my way back to Jersey City. It’s like a boomerang, it always brings me back.”

Aquiesse Candle from Fig & Olive

While the couple was considering other, smaller Dixon properties, Senior Leasing Manager, Jameel Mohammed took a chance on showing Erika and Roberto a recently remodeled townhouse. At 3,700 square feet with five-bedrooms and five-bathrooms, it was decidedly larger than the three-bedroom home they had in mind. “I love the upsell. I love sellers who can upsell,” Roberto says with a smile, Jameel said, ‘It’s a little bit more expensive, but it’s so much bigger.’ And I walked in, and it was old and new. It was like a dream.”

Fashion and design consultant Erika has a particular love for brownstones, especially those that have retained architectural details like ceiling medallions, molding and fireplaces. This brownstone more than fit the bill with breathtaking, ornate details throughout.  (Follow Erika on instagram at LOVELOCKKEY)

WithinWalls.Com Grand Parlor #ZamHomeWithinWalls.Com Grand Parlor #ZamHome

On the parlor floor, the grand living and dining rooms are enclosed by elaborate acanthus leaf moldings and egg-and-dart trim. Floor-to-ceiling window frames are baroque affairs flanking an original mirror and capturing quaint neighborhood views. The massive fireplace provides a warm focal point in the living room, while a gleaming gold chandelier descends from elaborate medallions overhead. Massive original pocket doors allow the couple to create defined, intimate spaces or an open flow through the entire level.

Red Kitchenaid Mixer


For Roberto, the home’s massive white kitchen was love at first sight. Living spaces are uncharacteristically large at this townhouse thanks to a 1920s addition to the original 1880s structure, which expands the first three floors 13 feet to the rear. The roominess is most apparent in the bright and airy kitchen that boasts a long row of cabinets, full size professional grade appliances, a second large fireplace and a huge center island with breakfast bar seating. “There’s four of us, and I could just envision us all hanging out at the kitchen island,” he says. “And, you’ll think I’m crazy, but I’ve always wanted a TV in the kitchen. I’m a TV addict, and they had the wiring all ready to put a TV in the kitchen!”

With large families and lots of friends living both near and far, the home is regularly filled with visitors and festive gatherings. The hallway on the parlor floor serves as a gallery for mementos of their visits with dozens of small paintings created by both residents and guests. Artwork by Ryan and Jack is surrounded by a patriotic flag by Erika’s brother, a shoe by Roberto, the letter Z for the family’s last name and a portrait of Penne, the family’s Italian Greyhound.

The home’s ample outdoor space is prized by family and friends as well. A spacious upstairs deck is conveniently situated off the kitchen, and the large yard is also accessible from the family room on the floor below. Both access points feature NanaWall folding glass doors to fully invite bountiful light and air indoors and provide the perfect backdrop for entertaining. The yard is a beloved place for Penne to romp and for the boys, avid baseball players, to practice catching pop flies. For Erika, the outdoor space was also the antidote for the one thing she missed most from Weehawken — the breathtaking Manhattan views. “As soon as we got to use the backyard, I thought, ‘Who cares about a view?’ It’s so much better to have outdoor living space. I don’t know if I could go back to not having it,” she says.

Down on the garden level, the family room is a favorite hangout. With open access to the backyard and a fully stocked wet bar with sink, refrigerator, wine fridge and dishwasher — not to mention a full complement of candy jars and an espresso machine — there’s really no need to leave the cozy hangout.

The rest of the ground floor houses abundant storage, a full bathroom and bedroom, and a roomy home gym. About the gym, Erika remarks, “This was how I got him to get this house. We kept going back and forth about how we didn’t need this much space, and I kept saying, ‘There’s a gym! You’d have a gym!'”

Garden Level Guest Suite

Above the parlor floor, sits the enviable master suite lined with the home’s characteristic trim and archways. An oversized custom closet leads the way to a windowed master bath outfitted with a deep soaking tub and separate walk-in shower. The adjacent guest suite on this floor is worthy of master bedroom designation itself with a massive en-suite bathroom and two large closets. Not surprisingly, closets in both rooms are filled with rows and rows of shoes — from strappy heels to the latest must-have sneakers. Master Suite #ZamHome

Master Suite
Second Level Guest Suite

The boys reside in matching bedroom suites on the home’s top floor. Each room includes an en-suite bathroom, and ever the doting stepmom, Erika has converted a laundry closet on this floor into a snack station, complete with mini-fridge, to house the boys’ cereal and munchies. The plush accommodations seem to suit the kids. “Our youngest says he wants to go to NYU so he can live here and commute!” exclaims Erika.

Jack’s bedroom with en-suite bath
Ryan’s bedroom with en-suite bath

Time spent with the boys is precious and focused on family and sports. “Because they’re not here during the week, they really just want to be home with daddy. So really everything is centered around this house,” explains Erika. When they’re not shuttling to and from baseball and basketball games, the family enjoys visits to neighborhood spots like Kitchen Step for hamburgers, Teppan for hibachi and Milk, Sugar, Love for ice cream.

image2“We hang out here, play in the backyard, watch TV, and do art projects. The whole idea of walking outside the house and being able to go to a restaurant or go to the comic book store on Coles Street, they’re really enamored with that,” explains Erika.

“Because they live in the suburbs, everything’s in houses. Everything’s a playdate. Here in Jersey City, you just walk, so they’re fascinated,” adds Roberto. “I think the best thing is having them see two different worlds, to see city life versus living in the suburbs. Getting to know lots of different kinds of people and cultures is really good for them,” says Erika.

Erika & Roberto are thrilled with their decision to live in a renovated Brownstone by Dixon Homes. “I love it!” she replies. “I don’t ever want to move.”


Search Homes by Dixon in New York & New Jersey


Holiday Decor that will last for 60 days

My favorite time of the year….FALL!!  I love everything about fall – pumpkin spice goodies, fall candles, layering clothing, the little bit of bite in the air on my daily walk and most importantly, fall decor!!! 

However, fall is a very short time frame and for me, I want to maximize my fall decor from October 1st to November 30th, without having to swap it out.  Below are my favorite examples of fall decor that works for both Halloween and Thanksgiving so you only have to decorate once.  Here’s to saving time and money!

Photos by Love Lock Key


Photo by Rachel Parcell
Photo by At the Picket Fence
Colorful mums and different types of pumpkins help play into both holiday vibes, aiding you to only decorate at the beginning of the fall season.


Photo from Eleven Gables


Spotted at Home Stories by Beth


D.D.D. by Taryn
Many of my buyers and friends aren’t huge fans of color (they love neutrals). If you worry about your home clashing with your decor, experiment with white mums and white pumpkins that allow you to stay neutral.


Photo by T. Lane Designs Limited


Photo by Shelterness
If you have a large wrap around porch or entry, play it up with different types of squashes and pumpkins in a tiered approach to create height.


Photo from Faded Velvet


Spotted on Shelterless


Vintage Home Love
Add a little more drama by incorporating a corn husk or two.  You can do this in both a large or small space; just keep in mind that you will need more husks in a larger space.  If you only have room for one, make sure it’s not too wide.


Spotted on Shelterless


Photo by Thrifty and Chic
Use of faux leaves to create garland and wreaths definitely makes your entry festive for both trick-or-treaters, as well as your turkey day guests. 
These Halloween Porches were too cool not to share. Just make sure to put the scary stuff away November 1st. Have a fabulous Fall! 💕 the Within Walls girls!
Photos by


Photo by


Photo by

Fall closet cleaning guide in 8 easy steps


As a realtor, one of the biggest must haves on every female’s list is a “BIG closet”.  Well, we all know that this request doesn’t always get fulfilled, so then we are left with how to fit our favorite items in a small space which is why a guide to maintaining an “user friendly” closet is something I get asked about all the time.

Closet purging and organizing is not just a task to take on going into spring, but equally as important as you head into fall. In fact, getting your closet ready for the fall season is even more crucial, as winter items are bulkier and take up more space. Therefore, you must have strategy in place to create space for everything to fit. Here’s an easy guide to ensure you have room for all those scarves, gloves, jackets and boots.

1. Get mentally prepared. This project can be overwhelming.  Get in your most comfy attire, then mix your favorite mocktail, make some tea or head over to Swig, Sodalicious, FiiZ, Straws or Thirst & grab a Dirty Diet Coke!
2. Purge. Rule of thumb – if you haven’t worn it in the last few seasons, donate it or sell it; feel good knowing you are sharing. eBay is a great way to make some quick cash on your better items. Hey, then you can buy something new for the season.
3. Lose the boxes. I know it’s hard to part with those designer shoe boxes but they hog up space and aren’t the best way to store your shoes. If you need to protect your faves, use a dust bag.
4. Get creative.  When it comes to creating space, storing shoes both sideways and front facing allow you to squeeze in a few more pairs.
5. Adjustable closets. Utilize this feature by adjusting hanging bars and shelves to gain space. Don’t be afraid to play around.img_2104

6. Don’t have drawers, no problem. Dont go buy plastic storage bins when you can use old gift boxes. This is a great way to store items and keep you closet looking organized and pretty on the cheap.

7. 3 for 1’s. Find an ottoman that allows you to use it for not only seating, but storage, as well as a step stool to get to the higher spots in your closet.img_2101

This Pink Storage Ottoman comes in 22 different colors.  Click photo for details.

8.Hanger swagger. Swap out plastic hangers for skinny velvet hangers. By doing this, you can get 10% more hanging per section.img_2107

Jeronic Thin Beige Velvet Clothes Hangers – Pack of 50


Home by Jackson & Leroy Utah Valley Parade of Homes

My obsession with doors started at a very young age. It sounds silly but I have always been fascinated with them. I remember being in middle school and riding my bike around the neighborhood in the evening. I loved looking at a home, the surroundings, and of course, its front door. At the time I had no idea how important a front door could be to the overall curb appeal of a home, or even more importantly, its feng shui.

img_1799Jersey City, NJ

Feng shui experts have coined the front door to be the “mouth of chi”, in which all energy enters and exists the home. Color, condition and cardinal direction can impact your home’s overall feng shui.

Greenwich Village, New York

In addition, maintaining your front door’s appearance is equally important.  A front door is a crucial detail that gives others a snapshot into your life – how you live and what you are about. Always make sure to keep your front door in pristine condition – free of clutter, dirt, bugs and webs.  Make sure as weather and elements tarnish the condition, you  repaint, repair or replace if necessary. A broken, old or needed paint job may scare potential buyers. By maintaining your front door, you will ensure top dollar when you sell.  Again, this is one of the first details buyers see when they enter your home!!

London, UK

Within Walls

Have you ever wandered your neighborhood and as you walk by the homes wondered….. Who lives inside, what do they do, what is their story? Are you curious how the interior is decorated, what collections the residents might have, what type of art is on the walls? Well I do.  I was born curious and love taking that first step inside a beautiful home to hear the stories of those who live ‘Within the Walls.’ I hope to inspire you to create a comfortable home and a peaceful life as I share the stories of others Within their Walls. Reading Chair