Designer Snapshot: South by Northeast

October 10, 2012

By Paula M Bodah

Providence-based interior designer Kelly Taylor describes her style as a fusion of her southern upbringing (she was raised in Charleston, South Carolina) and her tendency to prefer a modern aesthetic. Kelly, who is one of this year’s 5 Under 40 winners as well as one of the designers whose work was highlighted in our Special Focus: Kitchen and Bath Design in the September/October issue, gives us a few examples of just what she means when she calls her work “a congruence of warmth and comfort with clean, crisp details.” “The living room suite of a Newport residential club, the exquisite bones of a historic 1909 hall offered the perfect backdrop to our concept of a ‘modern mansion’,” Kelly says. “We played up the history of the place by showcasing a gilded portrait over the sofa and scattering antique furnishings here and there. All original moldings and trim were sacred, not to be covered by excessive window treatments or other fuss. Then we added modern fabrics, modular carpeting, a Florence Knoll coffee table and modern accessories to contemporize the overall look. The result is a fusion of warmth and simplicity, achieved by careful editing of each and every piece.”

Photos by Nat Rea

In the kitchen of a Rhode Island home, a collaboration between Kelly’s firm and Gregory J. Snider Architects, traditional and modern details team up to create a welcoming space. “A mix of painted and mahogany cabinets are constructed in two different styles,” Kelly explains. “Flush overlay doors conserve space in the island, while exposed frames elsewhere help achieve a more antiquated look. The painted cabinets are ever so slightly glazed for a mildly distressed look. Meanwhile, the other details are crisp and slick: a sleek, wide-plank cheery floor, Flos pendants above the island, flat roman shades inside the windows and a polished quartzite counter that would feel equally at home in a Soho bar.”


“Too many times ‘modern’ means forty shades of white, with steel and glass, and there’s just no break from the cold,” Kelly says. “We break from that philosophy, feeling strongly that modern spaces can be just as warm and inviting as traditional ones.” The breakfast area in this Rhode Island home is a perfect example. “You won’t find a bit of crown molding on the ceiling or a fussy valance that may obstruct the breathtaking view of Narragansett Bay, but when I look at this photo, I long to have my breakfast there,” says the designer. “Even though the palette is light, it’s not stark or cold. The soft chocolate brown rug anchors the Italian wood-and-glass table, which might seem quite chilly if not nestled up to golden upholstered dining chairs. The hardness of the sheet glass at the windows is warmed up with a light, textured shade by Conrad. In the end, the space is not only livable, but comfortable, too.”


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