Shades of Gray

Courtesy Photo.

Courtesy Photo.

By STEVE KAUFMAN
Contributing Writer

A standard cliché of home decorating, probably not politically correct anymore, is that the house “needed a woman’s touch.”

But the brand new 4,100-square-foot brick home in the Rock Springs development, a Homearama house this summer, was definitely in need of a designer to soften up the severe gray palette and tall, angular architecture of the space.

So Paragon Homes, the builder of the brand new property in Eastern Jefferson County off Route 22, brought in Colleen O’Hara Interior Fashions to “stage” the house.

“It needed warmth,” O’Hara said. “Visitors were saying it was ‘too pale’ with ‘too much gray.’ ”

But it wasn’t just a matter of tossing a lot of yellows and reds into the mix. “It has to be appropriate,” the designer said. “It has to fit the overall look and feel of the house.”

The house has wonderful architectural bones, from the multi-gabled roof and deep tan bricks of the exterior to the clean and open floor plan of the interior. “Scott Yates at Paragon is one of the area’s outstanding builders,” O’Hara said. But from a design standpoint, sometimes too much can indeed be too much.

For example, the dramatic great room is beautiful, with a 25-foot floor-through coffered ceiling. Though sunlight pours in through the large windows, “it just wasn’t the sort of room where you’d want to put your feet up in front of the fireplace and have a conversation,” O’Hara said.

So O’Hara started from the ground up, with a multi-colored paisley New Zealand hand-spun wool rug from Carpet Specialists on the floor. She set atop that a kidney-shaped wood coffee table with a glass inset from Hometown Rental Furniture that resonates with the paisley forms of the rug.

”All those shapes offset the rectangular feel of the house,” she said.

A comfortable seating arrangement casually surrounds the coffee table. Hometown Rental Furniture and Carpet Specialists supplied all the furniture and floor coverings, respectively, in the house.

A dramatic aspect of the room is the tall fireplace. Working off that, O’Hara hung a tall painting, a wash of amber and gold called “Silver Trees” over the mantel. “It’s an eye-catching focal that helps cut down on the height of the room and takes your gaze off the neutral palette,” she said.

Alongside the fireplace, O’Hara placed two tall, rectangular wood-framed mirrors to help bring down the height of the room, also adding reflection and depth.

“It’s becoming the big thing in Louisville to sell a new home with furniture in it,” O’Hara said. “It’s difficult to sell an empty shell. Furniture and decoration gives the buyer perspective, dimensions and imagination.”

In the house’s big, open plan, the great room leads right into a large, modern, well-furnished kitchen with a walk-in pantry and state-of-the-art appliances. A focal point of the kitchen is a large island topped with reflective, iridescent, off-white granite flecked with gray, black and touches of red. It is keyhole-shaped with a circular eating area built in at one end.

For seating, O’Hara brought in antique white leather high-back bar stools that play off the granite. “I wanted to keep it all fresh and simple and make sure the most interesting aspects of the house are what you pay attention to,” she said.

In the nearby formal dining room, another feature of the open floor plan, she changed pace with a rectangular glass dining table “for reflection, light and airiness,” she said. “The glass bounces off the cylinder silk crystal chandeliers overhead.”

The dining chairs – white leather and wood-framed – complement the bar stools in the kitchen. She staged the table with a mercury glass vase for further reflectiveness, a bright artificial flower arrangement for what she called “a puff of color” and a pair of silver pheasants (“they’re unexpected”).

All the decorative accessories are from O’Hara’s company.

The large master bedroom suite already included sheer lime green curtains on the bedroom windows and a set of three ornamental chandeliers and a variety of granite tiles jockeying for attention in the master bath.

O’Hara went for cozy here, tossing a faux fur taupe (“we’re in the winter months”) across the foot of the bed and setting a resin dog named “Lefty” on the bedroom floor. “Lefty adds character,” she said.

She softened and personalized the bathroom with fluffy white towels and a pair of ladies’ slippers, dark brown with furry details, sitting alongside the big tub.

“I want to convey the suggestion of a soothing, hot bubble bath,” she said.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune