A Shade of Blue

By STEVE KAUFMAN
Contributing Writer

Designers often get very specific instructions from their clients on how they want the house to look. “We want lots of animal references. Our favorite vacations are in Asia. We collect Caribbean artifacts. We want to emphasize our Italian heritage. We want it to look like a farm.”

For its design project at this summer’s Homearama, Tassels was essentially told by the new homeowners: “We like the color blue.”

Armed with that direction, Tassels’ designers went on to win last month’s Homearama award for best interior design. That’s doing a lot with blue.

“We were pretty much given free rein,” said Tassels’ Kevin Coleman. “But we played off the architecture and what we knew about the homeowners’ lifestyle and interests. And we chose a color palette that complemented the blue and brought the home to life.”

The house itself in Locust Creek is a two-story brick with shake shingles that Coleman describes as “Newport Colonial,” suggesting the waterfront homes of the exclusive Rhode Island enclave – watery, windswept and beachy.

They painted the bricks a cream color and the trim a bittersweet chocolate brown. As you enter the house, the main foyer and the great room begin to introduce the blues, oranges, greens and creams that are used throughout the house.

The great room, with a 25-foot vaulted ceiling, contains a couple of navy sofas and white- and light-colored case goods, with punches of color, like the orange draperies, pillows and decorative accessories.

“We also tried to play a lot with the texture of the furniture,” Coleman said, “a lot of linen and basket weaves so as not to take away from the pattern of the draperies and the fretwork rug.”

An antique mirror hangs above the two-sided fireplace, which goes through to a covered patio overlooking a bank of trees. The intent was to make this outdoor space a homey living area, with additional color, window treatments and a dining setting.

Tassels artist Molly Shanks hand-painted a large piece of artwork to offer the patio some privacy from the house next-door.

The master bedroom repeats the basic color palette, but with an Oriental jardinière pattern on the window treatment to introduce an Asian motif. That’s especially apparent in the master bath, especially over and around the built-in soaking tub, with whimsical Oriental-style paintings by Tassels designer Wendy Saladino.

Designers kept reinterpreting the color palette from room to room. So while in the bedroom the vaulted tray ceiling is navy, the kitchen’s barrel vaulted ceiling is a fresco green with a glazing technique. And the walls here reintroduce the orange.

In the adjoining dining area, the three matching chairs are white with a fretwork back, giving the room what Coleman called “a coastal Chippendale look.” A green settee is used as banquette seating along one side of the table.

“We tried to keep the palette to four or five complementary colors,” he said. “We’d punch up one color in one room, a different color in another room. But we didn’t want to use so many colors as to overwhelm the project.”

The two upstairs bedrooms were for a 15-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl. Coleman described the boy’s room as masculine and rustic with a neutral palette and some nautical references, like a porthole-shaped mirror above the bathroom door and wallpaper in the bathroom that suggests the color and texture of beechy (and beachy) driftwood.

The girl’s room was one place where the designers departed from muted colors, creating a panoply of brightness: some deep pinks and brighter blues, plus a variety of whimsical shapes. The mirror frame in the girl’s bathroom has an almost Disney-esque quality to it. And the variety of shapes and colors in the headboard is repeated in pillows, bolsters and the shower curtain.

The designers of the room – Lisa Bizzell and Crystal Newton – also tried to design around the girl’s interest in birds and animals.

But the girl’s interest that received the biggest attention was in a bonus room designed as a performance theatre, complete with a stage for her dancing and acting, and a seat for the audience that is actually a futon that folds into a bed for an overnight guest.

The expansive basement was a color departure, using more gray and taupe along with the blue, using woven basket weave furniture with gray and neutral zebra skin fabric and rustic lanterns hanging from the ceiling by rope.

“This is the man-cave,” said Coleman, “more masculine in terms of color choices and furniture.”

It’s more monochromatic, with metal, wood and stone surfaces and materials and an epoxy-finish concrete floor.

The basement bedroom was designed by Tabb Routt. Other Tassels designers on the project (most already identified) were Lisa Bizzell and Crystal Newton (upstairs bedrooms), Kevin Coleman and Marsha Riggle (foyer, study, great room, kitchen, basement and patio), and Wendy Saladino (master bedroom and bath).