Designer Snapshot: Double Take

October 9, 2013

By Paula M. Bodah

Just as a painter turns similar blank canvases into two different works of art, a designer can look at comparable blank spaces and envision two entirely different rooms.

Westport, Connecticut, designer Connie Cooper found herself working with clients who, on paper, seemed much alike. “They were both young couples, with young children,” she relates. “And they had both just bought their first house, and this was the first time they were working with a designer.”

What’s more, both houses were fairly traditional center-hall colonials and each had a rectangular living room with a fireplace on one of the shorter walls.

That’s where the similarity ended, though, Connie says. One couple wanted a serene living room in quiet, neutral tones. The other husband and wife favored a more modern look, and they definitely didn’t want to stick with a neutral palette.

Connie shared the photos below, showing how she was able to create spaces that suit each couple’s preferences and personalities. The similarities—and the differences—are equally striking.

Photo by Keith Scott Morton

Taupe walls with white trim are the basis for this congenial space. Traditional elements, such as the coffee table, lounge chairs, a quatrefoil mirror, and quiet landscape paintings give the room timeless elegance. Connie introduced transitional elements—the ikat drapery fabric, the carpet, and the patterned fabric on the chairs—to inject a youthful tone appropriate for a young family. Note the Hickory Chair consoles that flank the fireplace…

Photo by Tom Anckner

For the other living room, Connie started with a rug that has subtle touches of pale orange and purple. Bolder versions of those colors show up in the chairs with their luscious cantaloupe hue and toss pillows with oranges and purples. Grasscloth wallpaper in café au lait color, a glass-topped coffee table, and bright contemporary art give the space a decidedly modern look. Connie commissioned the paintings over the sofa, by Lori Simon , a Florida artist who’s a childhood friend of the designer. And there, flanking the fireplace, are the same Hickory Chair consoles, in a different wood, that Connie used in the more traditional living room

Oh, one more similarity: both rooms are pretty, comfortable, and exactly what Connie’s clients were hoping for.

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