When my old friends-turned-clients wanted to refresh their New Preston, CT home, I was glad to be of service. As their children were entering middle and high school, they were ready for a space that felt intentional in its design but still reflected the youthful and artistic energy of their family. With a bohemian edge, I brought in modern shapes, rich texture, and accents of timeless colors to create rooms perfect for how they want to live. This modern country home’s design was one of my most fun projects to date.
This job was all about making small changes that have a large impact. Paint color changes, wallpaper details and lighting are the stars of the renovation. We wanted to take advantage of the client’s favorite existing furniture and bring in complimentary pieces that round out the design. I’m so pleased with how it turned out.
Setting the Tone
The color palette for this project is established in the entryway. We painted all surrounding doors in Benjamin Moore’s Van Cortland Blue including the exterior face of the front door. This blue hue echoes throughout the country home’s lower level in furniture, textiles and accessories. All the floors were refinished to a warm gray to modernize the space. For further color, I partnered with a Moroccan rug maker to custom design a plum and ivory rug, setting the eclectic tone of the home with its tribal pattern.
Next, I updated the foyer’s lighting with intentionally modern and unexpected pieces. At left, Kelly Wearstler brass folded sconces frame a set of modern abstract nudes. A vintage Murano Glass fixture overhead sends sparkling light throughout the space in the evening, adding drama when the homeowners entertain.
Refining The Open Concept
Just around the corner is the lofty living room. The space is dramatic architecturally, but it needed to be elevated and decoratively pulled together. I punched the walls and ceiling with a favorite crisp white paint: Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace. Then, to balance the room’s bright tone and plentiful windows, we added layers of texture for warmth. The key here was to modernize the space while maintaining its country house aesthetic.
I mounted luxe woven ivory drapes high on the wall over the clients’ existing roman shades to accentuate the room’s height. Next, we pulled burnished nickel sconces through the fabric for a unique layered effect. In the evening, there is a dramatic up-glow on the fabric that elevates the room. Having multiple light sources makes a room inviting.
At the back right corner, we painted the door to the library blue, carrying the same color through from the foyer. At left, we splashed the bookshelf’s interior with salmon. These two colors at the rear of the space add depth and balance the weight of the room without being overly coordinated. They also provide a grounding point for fabrics used in the space, particularly the muted pinks we brought in with upholstery fabrics.
The original furniture layout only took advantage of two thirds of the large room. It had basically become a collection of one-off, uncoordinated pieces. To take advantage of the open floor plan, we added a seating area at the sofa back to tie the space to the adjoining dining area. Thus, the room becomes more inviting, allows multiple conversation areas, and better utilizes the floor space.
In a second view of the living room, you can see the new modern wave chandelier, Vladimir Kagan sofa, and a sculptural brass chair I brought in. All of these pieces have curves, softening the boxiness of the existing furniture shapes and the room’s rectangular footprint. Ultimately, I wanted to create a conversation space around their existing modern round coffee table. The curved sofa was an iconic way to pull all these shapes together.
One of my favorite things to do is figure out how we can use existing furniture in new ways throughout a house. Here, we kept an existing sofa and brought in another from their basement office. It was reupholstered and transformed with a luxe cream bouclé. The wood armchair you see in the before image was repurposed and recovered in pale blue performance fabric in the seating area at the rear of the left sofa, with its partner pulled from another room. I liked the existing tan textured fabric on the sofa at left, and made it work within the modern country home’s design by adding custom throw pillows. These bring more textural interest to the neutral seating, while accenting the soft pinks of the curved sofa and bookcase.
Finally, all of these pieces are grounded by an extra-large, custom Moroccan rug in grey and blue. The scale of the rug makes the room seem larger, and gives the overall neutral room a defined style. Re-orienting the seating, adding color and accessorizing with intention brought this space to life.
The Kitchen Refresh
We sought to brighten and modernize the kitchen, bringing in pops of color to align with the clients’ directive. I did this by removing the upper cabinets and adding hand-rolled ceramic subway tile from counter to ceiling.
First, we eliminated the existing traditional hood, refinishing it in plaster with a modern silhouette, and then removed the existing roman shades. This clean white backdrop and new lighter wood floors allows the contrasting pair of black and brass pendant lights I selected to really pop.
For the display of favorite dishes or glassware, I designed two open shelves in natural chestnut wood – a nod to the home’s country style. We painted the island Farrow & Ball, Light Blue and added modern counter stools in family friendly rich navy faux leather. An antique hot pink runner carries the bohemian flair into this space. Lastly, we swapped the existing cabinet hardware to modern brass knobs and pulls for classic warmth.
A Retreat for the Whole Family
A doorway just off the kitchen leads to an enveloping blue and violet room, which serves as a game room until nightfall, when the family gathers inside to watch movies. Previously, this room was a play space for the young kids. Over time, it became full of mismatched furniture. I wanted to pull it together to create a space that feels distinctly creative for the kids, and well-designed for their parents. Using the existing peacock blue grasscloth walls as a springboard, we added creams and violets. The palette is awakening during the day, and calming at night.
We reupholstered the existing sectional, and ottoman, choosing durable performance fabrics with a comforting hand. Carefully selected patterns are placed throughout the space to add to its layered feel. Another custom rug sets the scene, along with a mother-of-pearl inlay table we sourced from a neighboring vendor in Morocco.
I mounted custom roman shades at ceiling height to make the room feel taller. Overhead, the new large Italian brass and opaline glass light fixture adds interest to the otherwise blank space. Between the windows, two artworks by the clients’ youngest daughter are hung together – looking modern and elevated in the space.
Rounding Out the Smaller Spaces
No matter the size of the project, I always try to touch on the easily forgotten spaces, like powder baths and mudrooms. This gives the house a clear through-line and makes the overall design impactful.
In the powder room, I wanted to balance out the country vibes without making big changes. We wallpapered the ceiling in a modern agate-inspired pattern to bring the eye up – a great way to make very small spaces feel larger. A modern copper three-pendant light provides softly diffused light, perfect for nighttime entertaining. Mixing modern with the traditional elements makes this room relate to the others.
I accented the space with a brass mirror – decidedly modern and textural – and a small wooden shelf, creating a design vignette and helping to remove clutter from the pedestal sink.
Off the entryway to the left is a mudroom the family relies heavily on for through-traffic and convenient storage. It was functioning well as it was, but I wanted to tie the design in with the rest of the house. I added wallpaper above the millwork for interest, keeping the pattern subtle enough to live with long-term.
To beautify the existing storage solutions, I brought in two Eames coat racks and custom sized taupe rattan baskets for beneath the built-in bench.
Custom soft color throw pillows in durable fabric and a modern ceiling light make the room feel “designed” and carry the home’s ethnic, casual feel into this space.
Layering the Library
The clients’ library had a lot of potential, but it was disjointed and so…tan. The vaulted ceiling makes it feel expansive, but being all drywall and seams, it was a lost opportunity. I chose to celebrate this feature with patterned wallpaper and an oversized drum light fixture, drawing the eye up while closing the space in with texture. My goal was to tie the color tones to the rest of the house and make this room feel more cozy.
I painted the walls and millwork with a deep semigloss teal, contrasting the ochre and brown tones in the carpet and upholstery. Keeping with a brown and blue palette, I layered an antique rug atop a custom sisal. We brought in 2 black and woven rope armchairs for a super-inviting and comfortable, textured space. The color tone compliments the blues in the adjacent Living Room.
Next, we dropped the client’s landscape painting down, mounting it on the bookshelf for a layered library look. Then we placed their treasured family sculptures on a Burlwood pedestals in the back in front of the windows. Vintage blue glass lamps flank the sofa with new, crisp silk shades. Notice that the lamps in the “before” picture found their final place in the living room!
Finally, we put a modern touch on the existing wall sconces with paper drum shades, and styled the shelves so each surface in the room felt intentional.
This project is a testament to the value of tactical changes within an interior. Working around a client’s favorite existing pieces is a challenge all its own. But, it can pay off in big ways. I hope this blog helps you see your space in a new light. Maybe it will inspire you to make some small (or big!) changes. Until next time –
This is a beautiful transformation! I love all the color and modern design you incorporated to bring this home to life!
Susan Bednar Long says
Thanks Leora! Hope all is well with you!
Holly Alderman says
Very inspiring! I adore every transformation and marvel at the subtle spatial improvements and wonder how you imagine everything! LOOKS GREAT!
Susan Bednar Long says
Holly, that you for your kind words. Each project is like a puzzle and it requires working on small sections to bring it all together in the end. This was a fun one to solve!
Eric Osterberg says
I like what you did with the place!
Susan Bednar Long says
Thanks Eric! Hope all is well with you and your family.
Masterful job, as usual! Even using pre-existing pieces, you’ve transformed the look & put the polish on these spaces.
Susan Bednar Long says
Thank you so much, Kat!