A family of five bought the prettiest house on a street in Winchester. They loved the beautiful historical details, such as the carved staircase baluster. But they felt it lacked character.
“It was move-in ready, but it was void of any texture, pattern, or their personal preference for pattern and color,” says Jayme Kennerknecht of Kennerknecht Design Group, the interior design firm the family hired to help them make the home truly theirs. “That was a good design challenge to tackle. They just wanted to add a layer of personality.”
The colorful design concept began with the family room, an area off the kitchen, where a light-blue sectional sofa and a Bungalow 5 yellow hourglass side table inject a splash of color into an otherwise white and gray space.
The marigold yellow of the side table is a theme throughout the house, popping up in the piece of art that hangs above the family room’s intricate inlay chest of drawers and in the other first-floor rooms. For example, a yellow throw adds a pop of color to a gray sofa in the living room, and the same color plays heavily in the lively palette of the dining room.
The living and dining rooms are where the color and pattern really come alive in the design. The homeowners were adamant that they didn’t want these areas to be too formal, and Kennerknecht felt the rooms would benefit from a sense of colorful playfulness.
The living room’s centerpiece is a modern cube-shaped armchair that the homeowners already owned and that Kennerknecht reupholstered in what she calls “this 50 percent blue, 50 percent pink material.” The surprising fabric sets a striking tone for the colors in the space.
“Because that had a modern flair, it forced our hand a bit to make other selections that would help integrate that piece,” Kennerknecht says. Two gray sofas and a driftwood-gray coffee table provide a counterpoint to the chair and the other colorful elements of the room. “The sofas were selected because they are the right scale and have cleaner details,” she says. “We chose a super-durable velvet for the sofas. It’s cozy and it’s inviting. The color acts as a great neutral.”
That neutral allows the room’s Caitlin Wilson Kismet area rug to shine. Its background is a rich navy adorned with bold patterns that feature hot pink and coral. Those colors are picked up in the red sofa cushions with dramatic white patterns and in the embroidered sheer custom drapery panels from Thread in Ashland, which feature multicolored and off-white stripes.
The inventive color scheme that is hinted at in the family room and is developed in the living room bursts into full bloom in the dining room. “This room is centrally located and feels like the heart of the house—it’s accessed via a cased opening, so you can see right into the space,” says Kennerknecht. As such, it was important for the room to serve as a bold statement of the design sensibility.
The design for the room is built around an eye-catching and tactile fabric used for the dining chair backs: a cut-velvet-on-linen design from Villa Nova called Tara Blueberry/Acacia. The trapezoidal velvet pieces in marigold, gray, navy, and violet march in rows up the off-white linen backing, providing a dramatic focal point for the room. The colors are matched perfectly by the marigold upholstery on the chairs’ seats and the Schumacher Onna Sisal purple grass cloth wallpaper.
“We choose it as a baseline to add texture and a layer of intimacy in a room,” says Kennerknecht of grasscloth wall covering. “We added it very purposely to help with noise reduction. Adding more materials in the space was a goal, because it’s otherwise a hard and acoustically loud space with the hardwood floors and all the millwork. It was intentionally placed to help when the room is full for entertaining purposes.”
There are other elements of the dining room’s design focused on the potential for entertaining. The squareness of the room presented a challenge: how to fit a table large enough for guests without cramping the space. The solution makes use of the window seat, which substitutes for dining chairs when the table is rotated 90 degrees and elongated to become rectangular instead of its usual square. It is able to extend out into the adjacent corridor, allowing for a full complement of 14 diners.
“I think it’s so livable,” says Kennerknecht when asked what she enjoys most about the finished design. “It feels special to me. It also doesn’t feel too precious, which is the baseline of our overall design philosophy. I think it looks curated, in the sense that all the pieces don’t have the same character and quality. It looks much more thoughtful and therefore timeless.”
Kennerknecht Design Group
26 West Street Suite 200 Beverly MA 01915
Sources by Room
Coffee table: Bernhardt Mactan Cocktail Table,
Chest of drawers, Bernhardt Hatha Drawer Cabinet, inlay
Side table, Bungalow 5 Yellow Hourglass table
Grass cloth; Schumacher Onna Sisal Color Purple, 5002193
Fabric: Casamance Sayuri 3576.02.21 10 embroidered viscose on cotton
Chairs: cushion fabric, back fabric
Back fabric; Villa Nova Tara Blueberry Acacia V3096.01
Seat Cushion; Black Nevoa Ochre 7648.08
Table: Lorimer Studios, RI
Area Rug, Caitlin Wilson Kismet Rug in Navy
Table Lamp, Robert Abbey Delta Table Lamp in Midnight
Custom drapery panels fabricated and installed by Thread, Ashland MA
Fabric; Villa Romo Loki Sheer, embroidered sheer