Kevin Isbell Shares His Tips for Designing a Beautiful Bedroom

May 27, 2021

Editor at Large Clinton Smith talks with interior designer Kevin Isbell about the art of the mix.

Text by Clinton Smith     Photography by Read McKendree

At his longtime clients’ Nantucket home, designer Kevin Isbell transformed a dated house into a unique retreat by using some of his tried-and-true design principles. Built in the 1990s, the structure had a number of outmoded architectural features. “We got rid of the tired concepts,” says Isbell, who is based out of Los Angeles, California, but boasts clients all over the globe. “It was really a cosmetic uplift.” That uplift is best evident in the primary bedroom, which gives a subtle nod to its island location and blends the very best of old and new.

ON COLOR: “The room gets great light,” says Isbell, “so it could handle this strong color. Plus, a lot of light tones temper the magnitude of the green.” And while the contractors may have been surprised by the choice of such a bold color, the homeowners were all in. “They understand me, and they understood the
vision,” Isbell says.

ON PATTERN: What could have been a “sweet” chintz feels of the moment with its apple-green and hard-to-pinpoint blue. “It’s like aqua and teal had a baby,” Isbell says of the colors on the Lisa Fine Textiles fabric. The pattern also harkens to the island’s horticultural history, from the rose-colored cottages to the blowsy hydrangeas that pepper summer gardens. The fabric is a fresh take on more traditional (and expected) coastal blue-and-white motifs. “Right outside the doors is the ocean,” says Isbell. “Why do I need to keep referring to the nautical-ness of the location when you can look out the window and know exactly where you are?”

ON LAYERING: To work in one-of-a-kind pieces from different eras and styles, Isbell drew upon the island’s history as a global trading and whaling port, where goods would come back with sailors after their extended trips around the world. “I like to bring in those more unique pieces,” he says. “It gave me a lot of liberties to mix things here.” Case in point: the mélange of vintage wicker pieces, high-gloss white finishes on new pieces, and “brown wood” antiques all add gravitas and balance.

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