Before & After: Shades of Grey

My hometown of New Canaan is a modernist mecca, home to the Philip Johnson Glass House and the Harvard Five.  This progressive spirit also made it an appealing choice for my clients, a cosmopolitan family recently relocated from Europe.  Their directive: create a more modern, urban living space within the traditional setting of their Georgian Colonial home.

Perhaps in tribute to their London roots, the client was having a grey moment and provided ample inspiration from tear sheets of cool, monochromatic rooms.  These images below chart the transformation of four timeworn spaces to make them more edgy and fun:

Living Room: Before

Living Room: After

This space really took off from the client’s love of tonal spaces. The palette of soft grey and taupe is balanced by sexy, tactile materials like the glossy white lacquer & Zebrawood coffee table, custom crocodile skin ottomans, and textured accessories – and the graphic contrast of black and cream.  The stripe theme, seen here in the coffee table, Roman shades and drapes, is echoed throughout the interior.

Office: Before

 Office: After

I updated the office with more graphic contrast of darks and lights.  The Massoni striped rug and custom striped Roman shades give the cool space vitality and visual depth.  The cream leather and Mahogany armchairs are a surprising a fresh take on the typical Fairfield County home office.  I love the way the polished nickel picture lights pop on off the dark walnut stained millwork and the gloss-stained Rosewood desk reflects the graphic rug.  Instead of a tabletop lamp, we opted for modern pendant light which anchors the desk in the bay window.

Butler’s Pantry: Before

  Butler’s Pantry: After 

The classic Connecticut Butler’s Pantry had a nice layout but needed a dash of drama.  I started with deep slate wallpaper against eggshell white moldings and cabinetry, unified with polished nickel hardware and fixtures in clean, modern lines.  These playful, glamorous black & white Marilyn Monroe photographs along with sleek additions like the mirrored backsplash and the polished nickel industrial pendants elevate the space from its utilitarian origins.

Breakfast Room: Before

Breakfast Room: After

My client loved the British furniture house Andrew Martin and the cool crispness of  European design.  For this Breakfast Room, I introduced bold geometric shapes – like the rectangular linen ceiling fixture and the oval dining table, striking  contrast like the nickel base and the black ebonized wood top table and the ebony & ivory leather dining chairs, and chic accents like color blocked custom pillows to give the traditional space a more defined, polished look.

To see more Before & After shots from my portfolio, check out my Projects page – and do share your thoughts on this Connecticut transformation!


Photos by Susan Bednar Long


  • 6 years ago Betty Calhoun


    Having been to our home, you KNOW that we could use your expertise/advice/talent, etc.

    Am looking forward to seeing the results of the “magic” you will be creating for your new home on Beverly Drive.

    Best to you all. B.


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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by design and the subtle impact of our surroundings. Some of my earliest influences still resonate – I think of the dark woods and textured lodens of my father’s shooting club, the smell of fresh paint on a new canvas, and the bold symmetry of the Philip Johnson Glass house just down the street. For me, it was a natural path to become an Interior Designer. I love what I do. I’ve created this Blog to share my thoughts, finds and design inspirations. I hope you enjoy it!