This Classic Virginia Home Is All About the Color Blue
Designer Pamela Harvey focused on classic silhouettes and interesting color combinations to create this stylish family residence.
How do you take a simple color palette and punch it up? That is the question this McLean, Virginia, project by interior designer Pamela Harvey answers in full. A bevy of blue-on-blue tones, hints of lavender, and grounding neutrals give this this remodeled home the updated look it sorely needed. The clients, a family with two young children, loved the feel of their traditional East Coast home, but wanted to make it work for them; they found Harvey through a serendipitous connection. "I had done a new build for their previous next-door neighbor," Harvey tells MarthaStewart.com. "They had a similar aesthetic and liked the work I had done."
While tear-downs are commonplace in their neighborhood, the owners chose to remodel—not fully deconstruct—the home to increase their living space, notes Harvey. Their first goal was to expand highly trafficked rooms where they spend the majority of their time; they opted for a larger kitchen complete with a built-in banquette for everyday meals. It was here that they established the project's overarching color palette: The blue-tiled kitchen and blue-trimmed island set the mood for the rest of the home.
In each space, the designer worked hard to balance colors, textures, and patterns—and incorporate beloved family pieces into the mix. One of Harvey's best tips for seamlessly blending all of the above? Always throw in some greenery. "It adds a nice finishing touch," she says. The designer, who has offices in both Florida and Virginia, is well known for her modern spin on traditional features, and utilizes her more than 20 years of experience to create luxurious spaces (that never sacrifice function for form) for families of all sizes.
Don't Skimp on Color
While there is plenty of blue in the home—beginning with with entry, where vibrant wallpaper, a mobile cart, and colorful rug make a dynamic first impression—Harvey worked in varying tones and textures to make sure everything was complementary, not uniform. "I think the house is the right balance of strong color and neutrals. Mixing the shades of blues keeps it interesting; we added lavender-blue tones to the dining room and crisper pale navy in the living room and office. In the kitchen and family room, the blues are more muted and neutral," she explains.
Bright Blue Door
With two young kids, the homeowners needed to increase storage, but didn't want it to interrupt the flow of the design, so Harvey built a storage section with hooks in the entryway, ideal for dropping off backpacks and coats after school. The white bench block also allowed Harvey to continue the beautiful blue-printed wallpaper, which made the entry feel like a designated room, one that flows into the main living space.
The breakfast banquette is covered in a washable Sunbrella fabric, which can handle unexpected spills and general wear and tear. The custom table is just as durable: The bespoke speak was finished with extra coats of protective finish. "It does double-duty as a craft table and school-work area," Harvey explains.
Art and Plants
Lush plants ("One of my favorites is an inexpensive Boston fern," says Harvey) give texture to the dining room, which features lavender-blue walls, Thibaut wall treatments, and statement art: Harvey's clients came across the artist Landgsford Barksdale's work while on vacation and knew they wanted one of her pieces for their home. "We worked together to commission the piece," she adds.
When it came time to choose the furnishings, the family had a few items they wanted to incorporate into the new design—including two wing chairs, that are now in the office. They were reupholstered in coral velvet. "A well-built classic piece is always a good candidate for reupholstering," Harvey says.
The office's rug is another repurposed item; it once appeared in the living room, but ultimately felt too small in scale for the room. "One of first things we do when we work with a new client is walk through the house and ask them to tell us about any pieces they really love or have special meaning or a story to them. After we've completed our floor plans, we try to weave them in," Harvey adds.
The family room was decorated to feel more neutral than the rest of the home, with cool blue chairs (treated with Nanotex), an oversized navy ottoman, and gray sofa (covered in high-performance fabric). A former red oak wall, however, threw off the design. In lieu of retiling the fireplace, Harvey painted the entire textured oak wall a deep green color.