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Martha's East Hampton, New York, home on Lily Pond Lane used to be a study in white and white. This made the view through each window look like a painting framed by a wide mat. Against the warm, lush tones of the trees and gardens outside, the white seemed to create a jarring contrast. Martha decided to update the house, giving it a new look but keeping the same basic fixtures and furnishings. There were many little details that needed attention -- upholstery to repair, overgrown collections to edit -- so she began to think of it as the "re-"project.
Nature (including her collection of stuffed tarpon fish) strongly influenced the creation of Martha's Lily Pond Lane color palette.
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Lily pads in shades of teal, beige, and brown float serenely on a pond near Martha's house on Lily Pond Lane. Earthy shades like these appear in the rooms of the home.
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Before: The Dining Room
The dining room, with white woodwork and walls, was bright and cool; over time, Martha had come to feel that warmer tones would better suit the space and furnishings.
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After: The Dining Room
Butter-hued walls and woodwork give the space a richer, warmer glow. The ceiling is painted in a complementary shade of deep beige. In the dining room, a shapely marble-top wood table, in old paint that echoes the wall color, replaces the gray sideboard. Dark-wood side chairs, moved in from the library, fill in for the old upholstered dining chairs, and a tarpon framed in a shadow box takes the place of the mirror on the wall.
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Before: The Living Room
In the living room, every wall was interrupted -- by windows, doors, or a fireplace. This made it difficult to place furniture, so Martha decided to close off one doorway, creating wall space to accommodate the sofa.
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Before: The Front Hall
The woodwork in the front hall and stairwell contrasted sharply with the dark-fir floorboards.
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Most of the rooms needed rethinking in terms of organization as well as color. Martha sampled paints in the kitchen, looking for just the right shades to frame the gardens visible through the windows and to set off the existing teal tile floor.
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The results were dramatic. Martha had some new metal cabinetwork built to make the most of the available space. The soft brown of the walls and lighter, more golden color of the ceiling unified the whole room. New wall shelves hold her teal McCoy pottery and brighten an expanse of wall, and a sixteen-drawer metal buffet provides plenty of room for flatware, napkins, and serving pieces, which makes entertaining so much easier.
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Now that her dishes have a proper home, Martha's countertops are clear and she has the space she needs to work efficiently.
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Ample Storage Space
Because Martha's collections -- of dishware, cake plates and domes, pottery, and so on -- have grown over the years, she needed to create more room for them, so she's utilized the vertical space in the pantry. The old shelves, which are now painted the same color as the kitchen walls, keep everything organized and accessible. The counter is covered in zinc-coated tin.
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The new colors -- a light moleskin hue for the walls and relish-green for the ceiling (not shown) -- are cozier, making this an inviting spot for quiet work and reading.
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Redoing this room allowed Martha to organize her garden books in a way that made sense; now each one is easy to find when she needs it. One of two large Art Deco mirrors hangs above the bookcase, visually extending the space.
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A new Venetian-glass chandelier complements the painted ceiling. Hints of teal, in the window frames and French doors, provide bright spots of color. While Martha kept many of the same furnishings, not everything remained in its original location. For the library, she reinvented a white Jacobean-style table that had been used as a desk upstairs. Painted black, it makes an elegant, functional library table.
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A guest bedroom, painted a soothing gray-brown, is supremely simple in its decor. The twin-bed frames are metal, faux-grained to mimic bamboo. A flower arrangement and a Victorian wicker nightstand are the room's only embellishments.
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Before: Guest Bedroom
In every room of the house, implementing small changes and removing unnecessary furnishings made a big difference. A bamboo bureau in a guest bedroom was replaced with an early-20th-century ceramic, marble-top pedestal with clean, simple lines (next slide).
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After: Guest Bedroom
The monograms and trim on the bed sheets coordinate beautifully with the sunny-amber wall color.
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In the guest bath, metal cabinets were replaced with ebonized Aesthetic Movement pieces. A collection of opaline green glass shimmers against the black-painted wood.
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For the updated design of Martha's bedroom, she painted the walls and ceiling in beigy-pink tones and pushed the multipaned wardrobe against the wall where the bed used to be. The former library table sits in front of the windows, and a large, pinkish mercury-glass ball catches the light.
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The woodwork and the vanity table in Martha's bathroom have been painted the same beige as the bedroom walls. A standing triple mirror with an ebonized wood frame tops the vanity horizontally, coordinating with the Deauville garden chair, which is now black.
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Rather than painting the wooden bed to suit the new color scheme, Martha chose to cover it in fabric for a softer look. The frame is encased in thick bump padding, then in fine-linen slipcovers that are stitched together into a simple dressmaker shape that gracefully envelops the frame of the bed. Pink linens accentuate the pink in the wall color.
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