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Bold Patterns & Vibrant Colors Bring This Southern Home to Life |

Bold Patterns & Vibrant Colors Bring This Southern Home to Life

This 1940s Colonial-style house in Raleigh, North Carolina, was beautiful even before interior designer MA Allen got her hands on it. But with her keen eye and youthful touches, this home to a family of five (recent transplants from Kansas) now epitomizes traditional with a twist. “The goal was to integrate existing furniture and accessories the family already had, but create a fresh look for a new chapter in their lives,” says MA. “We needed to furnish the house on a budget while still achieving some new looks.”

A classic cream-and-black exterior is part of the curb appeal for this Raleigh house.

Geometric wallpaper from Cole Son enhances the foyer.

Neutral but exotic, the faux-antelope runner from Eatmans Carpets Interiors spices up the entry stairway.

Designer MA Allen paired the homeowners’ existing dining room furniture with modern pendants from Visual Comfort Co. and a bold blue wall paint as contrast.

MA designed the custom millwork in the dining room for a contemporary twist on wainscoting.

The new kitchen has classic features befitting a 1940s house, but with storage and modern appliances to bring it up to date. The custom banquette area also serves as a prep area, since there’s no island or peninsula in the kitchen.

The upholstered banquette features fabric by Kravet.

A furniture-like hutch between the kitchen and sitting room provides extra storage for entertaining.

Swivel chairs from Vanguard Furniture are covered in a lively houndstooth fabric. Green trim on the chairs picks up an accent color in the bookcase.

A painting from Cuba purchased by the homeowners is a focal point above the sofa.

The butler’s pantry serves as a place for family photos.

The designer’s firm got to work on a variety of tasks, both remodeling and decorating-oriented; the new kitchen now includes custom cabinetry, countertops, tile and hardware. For other rooms, they specified furniture, custom window treatments, paint colors, wall coverings and floor coverings — but always mindful of the budget. “We made value-driven selections where possible to maximize impact, using bright paint colors, painted accents and recovering existing furniture,” says MA. “We chose wisely where to splurge.”

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One splurge was the foyer, where the designer added lively pattern through wallpaper since the entryway didn’t have space for a lot of other elements. The wife also remembered a clever project MA had done previously with wainscoting as another custom touch, so MA designed custom paneling for the dining room. The modern, geometric wainscoting now complements the wallpaper in the adjacent foyer.

To liven up this girl’s room, MA lacquered an existing canopy bed in a watermelon color. “We kept her walls and trim white to bring attention to the bright pops of color in lacquered furniture,” says MA.

Custom cornice and built-ins wear the room’s teal and watermelon.

Modern furniture and a custom cornice fill the bedroom’s sitting area.

To keep the look youthful, the canopy bed is left open.

A custom monogram and trim distinguishes this white Roman shade.

A custom monogram and trim distinguish this white Roman shade.

A sitting area/guest bedroom off the foyer features a custom canopy and fun variety of colored pillows.

Existing bohemian-style headboards were lacquered in a vibrant green for this bedroom, further distinguished with its hanging chair and touches of orange.

An existing dresser gets a new look with a similar green lacquer finish as the headboards.

Since older houses are big on charm, often lacking in storage, MA looked for areas that could do double-duty — particularly in the kitchen. “We designed a number of multi-use areas in there,” she says. “The banquette table doubles as a working surface, cabinets include a retractable cutting board and pullouts on the hutch allow additional serving space.”

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For high style on a budget, she turned to bold colors and clever accessories. The sitting room bookcase now sports citron-green paint as a backdrop as just one example, and the girls’ bedrooms are packed with bold color combinations. “We used paint as an inexpensive solution to make a major impact,” says MA, adding, “Although I always recommend adding pops of color in small doses in the primary spaces.”


Thank you to Jed Gammon Photography for the gorgeous photos.


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