A SUBURBAN HOME DESIGNED TO SKIRT SAMENESS BY GOING…
WRITTEN BY RONDA SWANEY PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL J LEE
COOKIE-CUTTER HOMES THAT MARCH DOWN MANICURED STREETS OF SAMENESS—AH, THE SUBURBS.
The owners of this Westchester, New York home loved the area but wanted to avoid suburban monotony when it came to style. They found a home they liked and gutted it, but the 7,000-square-foot shell was too blank of a slate to manage on their own. Kendra Dufton, owner of Color Theory Boston along with her husband and partner Brad, had worked with this family on their previous Boston town house. Moving from Boston to Westchester, an urban setting with cramped quarters to a suburban one with space to spare, was a big change for the family. So they sought help from the Duftons to make the new home reflect their dynamic personalities and well-traveled way of life.
The couple and their two middle-school-aged children travel internationally multiple times per year and own a vacation home in Costa Rica. This family wanted their main home to feel vibrant, be inviting to guests, and reflect their worldly perspective. “Every family has different priorities, so defining what makes a living space livable changes from one person to another. It varies for each individual, but I think the commonality is that people want their main living spaces to fit and function within their lives,” says Dufton.
For Dufton, empathy provides the starting point for the design process. “We put ourselves in our clients’ shoes. If we lived in this home and this was our lifestyle, what would we do? What would we choose?” she asks. Those questions guide the design team as they source items for a home. Their experience with color pairings also directs the design. The Duftons began Color Theory Boston as a business to provide interior paint color and wallpaper consultations when they realized many people are confounded by color. “Unless you have a trained eye, it’s hard to know which colors complement each other, how they are affected by natural and artificial light, [and] how to find accent colors that harmonize with a home’s architectural details,” explains Dufton. Their color confidence convinced the firm’s clients to ask for even more help, turning the color consultation business into a full-service design company.
The design scheme Dufton presented to the family was a riff on Paris flea markets. A place where you might find art deco style next to a midcentury-modern silhouette and have both look equally at home. The goal was for each room to feel curated and collected, while showcasing the family’s individuality. “What stands out most about this project is that every room has a unique feel. Nothing appears redundant, yet it’s all still related,” says Dufton. Each room embraces a distinctive style and refuses to be pinned down to a single design era.
Every space began with a different design inspiration. Wallpaper provided the jumping-off point for the kids’ rooms. The daughter’s love of nature inspired Dufton to use a wallpaper with birds and clouds on every wall in her room. Spearmint-green textiles give the room a refreshing feel. The son’s mathematical, analytical mind drew Dufton to use geometric patterns in his room on an accent wall, in the floor tiles, and in a nook accessed through a swinging bookcase that acts as a secret door. His athleticism inspired the forgiving cork-tiled wall. A sitting room was inspired by a set of existing Roche Bobois tufted cushions;
Dufton added to the collection to create a more sizeable and even more colorful modular seating space.
The family’s love for Costa Rica inspired the screened porch. Planters overflowing with greenery and a hammock that invites a midday nap make the porch feel almost tropical. The home’s third floor houses the master suite, providing an oasis for the parents, and relies on more calming tones. Soft grays line the hallway and continue into the suite. Regal plums appear in bedding, the grasscloth wallcovering, and the loveseat cushion.
Although the rooms are diverse, common themes thread through the home. Many walls showcase neutral shades, allowing furnishings and flooring to take center stage. Even daring paint colors throughout the home act as neutrals, complementing even bolder furnishings and accessories. Natural light floods each room, as window shades are minimalist or nonexistent. Furnishings are beautiful and well-made, yet comfortable and practical for the needs of a young family. Patterns and textures abound, whether in the wallpaper that graces an accent wall or the area rug that anchors a furniture grouping.
The end result is a home that embraces the boldness of the family who lives there. “We were able to take risks,” says Dufton. “I love seeing so many colors and patterns on the walls and floors of this home. Our clients didn’t have to say yes to our ideas, but they said yes with enthusiasm.”