Skilled Craftsmen at Work: Our Decorative Painter

An Artist's Hands, Refined Techniques, & Age-Old Formulas --
Applying an Artisan's Touch Worthy of The Manor's History of
Authentic Elegance & Traditional Craftsmanship 

One of the many unique qualities that has helped earn The Manor its reputation is its dedication to the art of craftsmanship. Much of the fine detail throughout the property is the result of the skilled work of artisans from a range of trades, some of whom have been under the employ of The Manor for decades.

Whether carpenters or coppersmiths, upholsterers or painters, much of what has kept The Manor’s historic building replete with refined details and established the elegance of its English manor house style has been the people chosen to maintain and embellish it.

The Manor’s over half-century tradition of employing talented artists and craftsmen who bring to bear their unique and specific skills earned over a lifetime of work was a significant consideration when the time came for The Manor’s latest series of extensive renovations.

In order to continue to evolve and offer modern amenities but still maintain the authenticity and grandeur of The Manor, the renovation project team sought out talented artisans whose expertise would ensure that the tradition of craftsmanship and skilled design would be maintained and built upon.

One such talent was Aliya Riaz, the creative force behind the award-winning decorative art and design firm Portfauxlio, Inc. Ms. Riaz was tasked with leveraging her talents across a wide range of projects throughout the recent renovations.

With design concepts from The Manor’s owners, Ms. Riaz set about turning their ideas into stunning décor. Whether it was decorative painting, gilding, glazing, applying specialty finishes, or unique plaster work, her contributions helped to successfully revitalize antique pieces, blend new construction with old, and further enhance the grand aesthetic of The Manor while maintaining its authentic charm and hand-crafted appeal.

Hours upon hours of work were poured into the project. From researching the theme appropriate treatments and testing colors to standing on a platform two stories in the air, applying gold leaf across the borders of an entire room by hand with nothing more than a one inch brush to ensure proper application to all the intricately-detailed moldings, Ms. Riaz spent a countless amount of time and effort to ensure the work was flawless.

Ms. Riaz’s contributions were extensive. One such project that exemplifies the level of effort, quality and attention to authentic design can be seen in her work on The Manor’s new Garden Room. While the room is new, the processes used to create the aesthetic are ages old. Though it would have certainly been quicker, simpler, and not nearly as costly to construct the room in a less genuine way, The Manor’s owners were dedicated to upholding their philosophy of staying true to traditional craftsmanship and authentic design. To help fulfill this mission, Ms. Riaz undertook work on a Venetian plastering process for the Garden Room that required application of seven different layers using five different colors, all with differing degrees of treatments. This painstaking process, conducted throughout the room, required labor-intensive handwork to achieve the desired result. Finished with a golden glaze, the effect successfully creates a genuine depth, a feel that is rich with character, and that is true to the room’s concept.

Her work on The Manor’s Garden Room extended well beyond the plastering finishes however. Ms. Riaz created the central decorative ceiling design through a detailed stenciling process. Her work can also be seen in a number of The Manor's ceiling medallions that accentuate chandeliers and pendants. She is also responsible for the impressive metallic plasterwork that defines the contrasting outside border of the room’s ceiling.

Another labor-intensive project to which Ms. Riaz applied her talents was the hand-finishing of two barrel-vaulted ceilings in The Manor’s main corridor. One piece at a time, she carefully applied authentic 24-carat gold leaf squares, each no more than three inches square, to the ceiling. One-by-one, she delicately brushed on thousands upon thousands of squares to complete a shimmering dome of gold reflecting light down upon passers-by. It was a costly process for The Manor, no doubt, but yet another indication of its commitment to quality. Many guests may walk beneath the ceiling never noticing the work, but if you pause to look up, take a moment to consider the dedication it took for one person to complete the painstaking process that is a single element of just one of countless spaces throughout The Manor.

Ms. Riaz was also tasked with the finishing glazing treatments on the woodwork that is seen throughout The Manor’s lobby on both the main and upper floors--a multi-step process that has added character and depth to the millwork. The Manor's lobby also features a multi-step strié wall finish, hand painted by Ms. Riaz.  A silver-gilded ceiling in our ladies' lounge can be attributed to her craftwork as well.

Her talents can also been seen in the refinishing of The Manor’s signature Dome doors that mark the entrance to our nightclub. With yet another multi-layered process, she created a deep rich feel that complements the antique stained glasswork and bold brass adornments of these massive doors.

One of Ms. Riaz’s most personally rewarding contributions was her finesse in antiquing our new grand Versailles bridal suites’ tin tiled ceilings, a process that required a light touch and trained hand. Tasked with a treatment chosen by the rooms' designer and project manager, Keri Knowles, Ms. Riaz began work on a technique that would accentuate the baroque aesthetic of the ornate French-inspired salons that Ms. Knowles had endeavored to create. Bringing Ms. Knowles' vision to life required Ms. Riaz to individually hand finish in excess of one hundred tiles, making sure each were identical in their treatment--no small feat, especially considering the limited window given in which to complete the process. When deadlines became tight, other eager contributors to the project attempted to assist in the finishing of the tiles. Though the effort was well-meaning, it soon proved that a knowledge of the process was not enough to reproduce the refined look that was intended—the artist‘s hand was indeed inseparable from the process. Ultimately, Ms. Riaz succeeded in personally producing all the tiles in time. Individually, the look and feel of the tin tiles are charming; when seen together, their impression is nothing short of remarkable, beautifully tying-in the ceiling with the entirety of the room’s design.

Ms. Riaz’s work also encompassed several restoration projects to bring unique antique pieces in The Manor’s collection back to their former glory. Whether that meant matching new paint, plaster, or finishes to old ones--or more extensive processes, the subtle touch of an artists’ hand and the experience to understand the original process was invaluable. Several antiques damaged by time and wear also required her to create plaster casts to reproduce lost elements of decorative pieces. One such piece is the massive ornate mirror that now hangs in a place of pride in The Manor’s main lobby. As one of the first impression pieces our guests experience and important for creating scale and reflecting light from our grand chandelier, the authenticity of its details and maintaining the integrity of its original construction were vital. By cloning the design from the existing portion of the mirror’s frame and recreating it where elements were damaged or missing, she seamlessly combined the old with new. Laboring against a tight deadline, she spent hours working on-site in one of our workshops to finish and re-gild the mirror’s intricate frame, even battling a snowstorm to stay within The Manor’s demanding timeline.

But it has all been a labor of love for Ms. Riaz. As she herself has said, “It’s been very rewarding to be able to collaborate with an establishment with such a rich history and gratifying to be able to work on so many hidden gems to restore them to their grandeur for guests who can appreciate their value.”

Much of Ms. Riaz's expertise that she put into practice at The Manor has been passed down from techniques of master craftsmen over the centuries and uses age-old formulas. She has worked alongside the late Master Craftsman Brian Rhodes in England, a gifted decorative painter and writer of several definitive books on the history and application of interior decorative techniques including “Parry’s Marbling and Graining”. She also studied trompe l’oeil with Pierre Finkelstein, author of “The Art of Faux”. Another important influence is Dean Sickler — a professional decorative painter and a teacher of his craft — who helped Ms. Riaz with the transition of switching to American materials, along with instilling a great interest in the study of plaster. Ms. Riaz is paying her wealth of knowledge forward by teaching her craft at Dundean Studios in Chatham, NJ.

To learn more about Aliya Riaz and her decorative art and design firm, Portfauxlio Inc., visit

Also read about some of the other talented artisans whose craftsmanship has been integral to The Manor's authentic design. 

Gerd Dagne
Renovation Upholsterer

Patricio Guzman
In-House Upholsterer

Hans Breuckl

A Brief Overview of Our Renovations
Recently, The Manor has embarked on a new era of growth and change, undertaking an extensive multi-year, multi-phase revitalization project. Continuing to build upon our success, this multi-million dollar endeavor has included an array of upgrades, renovations, and changes to the physical structure of the building. As many of our guests have already experienced, the early phases of this ambitious initiative included a completely new foyer and lobby, enlarging and redesigning the aesthetics and physical structure of these spaces, making them more airy, open and welcoming. 

A Brief Overview of Our Renovations
Recently, The Manor has embarked on a new era of growth and change, undertaking an extensive multi-year, multi-phase revitalization project. Continuing to build upon our success, this multi-million dollar endeavor has included an array of upgrades, renovations, and changes to the physical structure of the building. As many of our guests have already experienced, the early phases of this ambitious initiative included a completely new foyer and lobby, enlarging and redesigning the aesthetics and physical structure of these spaces, making them more airy, open and welcoming. 

The Planning Process - Preparing for Renovations
Before any structures could be erected, any stone could be laid, or any walls adorned, the painstaking and complex task of planning The Manor’s renovation first had to be defined. There may never have been a doubt that The Manor would continue to evolve and offer new amenities (as it had over the course of its almost 60 years prior), but deciding on the timing and scale of the project required a great deal of consideration, forethought, and scheduling. Committing to a multi-year, multi-million dollar project and setting the plans into motion was no small task.  

Making a Grand Entrance
One of the ambitious redesign goals of The Manor’s renovation project was to create an entirely new, more welcoming, airy, and grand first impression for guests walking through our doors. Part of that plan included significantly opening up our lobby. An by opening up, that meant going up—removing a large part of the floor of the second story above the lobby to create a two-story view. Doing so required the removal of not just one ceiling, but two. Read More >>

Selecting and Installing Our Chandelier
To fill the lofty area created by the opening up of the lobby to two full floors, the Knowles family and The Manor's renovation team looked for a focal piece worthy of the grand scale of the room. They concentrated their attention on finding a central design element that would be large enough in size to match the scale of the space, but light and airy enough to complement the fresh, lively new aesthetic of the lobby.  Read More >>

Uncovering and Restoring a Hidden Gem
The Manor’s renovation crew uncovered the original arched windows, still in tact and in place inside the walls. Inspired by this discovery of The Manor’s past, the Knowles family, known for their appreciation of history and tradition, along with their architects and design team, worked to find a way to incorporate these relics into the new aesthetic. Read More >>

The Creation of an All-New Ladies' Lounge
Not to leave any aspect of our guests’ experience unattended to, the Knowles family incorporated plans for an entirely new ladies lounge. Built on the first floor in the heart of our historic building, the new accommodations now offer a more centralized and easily accessible location.  Read More >>

The Creation of an All-New Men's Lounge
Just below The Manor’s lobby on the lower level, is our newly-constructed men’s lounge. With rigid, rich wood elements, substantive leather seating, two high-definition television screens, and an array of other more masculine elements, this Manor man cave is another unique room newly-built from the ground-up for our guests’ enjoyment.  Read More >>

Installation of a New Elevator
In order to provide a more convenient and centralized means for our guests to travel from floor to floor in The Manor’s sprawling mansion, the Knowles family incorporated into the renovation project, plans to create a new elevator system. Making this possible would be no small feat and come at no small cost. Building a modern service with very technical requirements around the bones of a historic building proved to be a major engineering challenge.  Read More >>

Showcasing The Manor's Storied Past
Now hanging in The Manor, along the reconfigured walls of the former Carolina Room, is a gallery of images that reflects upon the long and storied history of our restaurant and event venue. Set on richly-adorned, earth-toned damask-patterned walls, the photos, now framed and engraved, mark special moments in time. The images are but a small sampling of the events across the years that we’ve hosted and the people with whom we’ve enjoyed them. Read More >>

A More Welcoming Vestibule
In their renovation planning, the Knowles family’s mission was to not only refresh, brighten and revitalize the look and feel of The Manor, but to also find ways of further improving the appeal of the public spaces to make them more welcoming and comfortable for our guests. Some of these improvements have been realized even with the first step through our doors.  Read More >>

Enhancing The Manor's Grand Facade
Along with extensive renovations to The Manor’s many interior spaces, so too came updates and upgrades to the building’s exterior. The multi-million dollar project included plans to extend the eastern portion of the second floor façade to add more symmetry to the front of the building, without growing the overall footprint of The Manor or impacting the beauty and size of surrounding grounds.  

The Garden Room - A Reimagined Banquet Space
Recognizing the importance of offering an entirely private and separate reception space apart from our other event rooms for wedding couples, corporate events and social gatherings, the Knowles family, owners of The Manor, established plans to completely gut, enlarge, and modernize our second floor. With designs for a new restroom, bridal suite, service areas, pre-function space, and banquet room, The Manor set in play the creation an entirely self-sufficient and self-contained party space. Our brides would now have a complete, thoroughly- and thoughtfully-designed exclusive rooftop space for their receptions.  Read More >>

The New Garden Room Bridal Suite
As part of The Manor’s newly constructed rooftop ballroom, we’ve designed a special space just for the bride. Our Garden Room Bridal Suite offers a cozy private sanctuary to escape and prepare for the events of the day. With a private restroom, easy elevator access and located directly adjacent to the event space, the Garden Room Bridal Suite provides for all of the newlywed’s needs. Our design team, led by Keri Knowles, carefully selected bold patterns, rich fabrics, and regal colors that would create a luxe look and feel that every bride deserves on her special day.  

Our Enchanting New Rotunda Bridal Suite
As yet another entirely unique, authentic space at The Manor, our newly revamped Rotunda Bridal Suite now offers our brides a lush, romantic getaway to prepare for their special day. This space has been re-imagined from a public ladies’ lounge to serve as a private suite exclusively for our bride and her bridal party.  Read More >>

Versailles Bridal Suite I - A Touch of Aristocratic Enchantment
The awe-inspiring reinvention of this additional all-new bridal suite successfully elevates The Manor’s already unique environment. From the color palette to the architectural style, to the design choices and lux furnishings, the room provokes a vibrant, fresh and breathtaking feeling. The aesthetic pays significant homage to The Palace of Versailles, Louis XVI design, and the French baroque style.  Read More >>

Versailles Suite II - Combining Classic French Grandeur with Modern Amenities
With ornate designs and luxurious details reminiscent of Versailles, our newest of The Manor’s grand bridal salons offers our bride her own private retreat to feel pampered in extravagance as she prepares for her special day. From a full-length three-way mirror to a an adjoining salon space with three glamour stations that feature large vanity mirrors surrounded by Hollywood lighting, this suite provides for a bride's every need. Read More >>

Our Charming New Regency Bridal Suite
This cozy new bridal suite was recently fully redesigned and redecorated for our Manor brides. Specifically for the use of our bride hosting her wedding reception in The Manor’s Regency Room, the suite offers easy access to the adjacent ballroom.  Read More >>

Following a Long Tradition of Master Craftsmen
The Manor has enjoyed over a half-century history of fostering a holistic approach to its business, to keep as much of what defines us within our own family of operations. A vital part of sustaining that ethic is our tradition of supporting the work of true artisans and incorporating their talents into all that we do.  This may make us a larger business to manage, and a more costly one to operate, but we believe that it also improves the quality and authenticity of the experience we can provide to our guests.  Read More >>

Skilled Craftsmen at Work: Our In-House Upholsterer
For decades at The Manor, one man has been responsible for a very specific element of the venue’s décor. Gerd Dagne, an upholsterer trained in the art of design with fabrics, has sewn, assembled, installed, and maintained practically every piece of ornate drapery hung at The Manor and its sister properties for more than 30 years. His talents in this cut & sew craft have stood the test of time, while many others in the profession have not. In an age where labor-intensive craftsmanship has become too costly and attention to hand-made detail is less appreciated, only those with a reputation for quality and skill have flourished.  Read More >>

Skilled Craftsmen at Work: Our In-House Upholsterer
More like family by now than employee, Patricio Guzman has been keeping The Manor’s appurtenances well-covered in fine fabrics for decades. If you’ve ever sat in a chair at The Manor, then you’ve experienced his handiwork. Whether in The Dome or the dining room, a banquet chair or a baroque settee, Mr. Guzman has upholstered it.  Read More >>

< Back to Main Renovations Page

The Manor has undertaken an extensive multi-year, multi-phase revitalization project.

Continuing to build upon our success, this multi-million dollar endeavor has included an array of upgrades, renovations, and changes to the physical structure of the building.

Many of these improvements are already in place, while others are soon to be ready for our guests' enjoyment.

Our All-New Garden Room is Now Open for Wedding Receptions, Social Banquets, Corporate Events, and Other Private Parties.

This Unique Two-Room Event & Celebration Space Includes a Ballroom that can Accommodate up to 80 Guests.

Click Here to Contact Us for Room Details and Booking Information.