Harmony is created from diverse styles in this coastal Connecticut home.
Discover how diverse styles—antique and sleek, cottage and industrial, masculine and feminine—can be combined creatively in beautiful harmony.
Variety is the spice of life, and interior designer Eileen Deschapelles has it all figured out at her home in Riverside, Connecticut.
Just don’t try to pigeonhole her style into any one category. “I’m passionate about interior design, and I love too many styles to pick a favorite. My house reflects what I love, and somehow it all works together,” she explains. That modest “somehow” is really the combination of a confident understanding in her own diverse tastes and years of design experience to make opposites attractive within the same space.
She layers bold feminine accents over masculine shapes and earthy hues. Furniture with contemporary lines and sleek textures is blended with antique pieces from Europe and Asia. For Eileen, comfortable cottage spaces are punctuated with an industrial edge. Through it all, she sources items without prejudice. Restoration Hardware, Ikea, local antiques stores and even a gas station corner yield treasures. “I do not discriminate between high and low,” she says. “I love my children’s artwork as much as a fine antique. Good design is good design!”
BOLD MEETS NEUTRAL
Upon entering Eileen’s Dutch Colonial Revival home, guests are greeted by a sweeping staircase and views into the separate spaces that together make the designer’s sanctuary. One of the first views is into the study, a space historically dedicated to private contemplation.
Eileen’s interpretation is an intimate space with a warm atmosphere and a bold twist. Grasscloth wallcoverings anchor the room with an earthy texture over which are layered the brown hues of naturally finished wood and distressed leather. An armchair and built-in bookshelves provide the necessary spots for reading in comfort and storing books in style.
Jewel-tone aquamarine accents elevate the overall mood of the space by injecting a dose of feminine boldness into the otherwise masculine and neutral setting. By limiting the palette to browns and blues, distraction is eliminated. Eileen uses a variety of touchable textures, rather than color, to provide interest. The weave of grasscloth, the grain of wood, soft leather and plush velvet promote relaxation and inspiration in a space where one can read for hours.
CONTEMPORARY MEETS ANTIQUE
Across the entry from the intimate study is the formal living room. The room needs to serve two purposes, as Eileen not only entertains guests here, but also conducts her interior design business.
Eileen carved space for her desk and storage shelves out of a sunny corner by the fireplace. Her white, clean-lined furnishings blend in against the white walls and do not obstruct the light. She uses a Midcentury Modern-inspired chair in neutral colors at her desk and woven straw bins for storage.
On the other side of the room, these natural hues are echoed in the caned chairs, a French cabinet and the wooden trunk serving as a coffee table. The transitional style of the caned chairs and sofa acts as a bridge between the antique
cabinets in the space and the more contemporary office furniture. Everything coordinates well because of their simple, unadorned shapes and the neutral color palette of brown and white.
The obvious exception is the Asian cabinet centerpiece. Painted in bright red with floral details, the piece stands out in the room without undermining the other elements. It is flanked on either side by two Chinese iron chairs, styled with stacks of books and a figurine on top. Eileen loves Asian art, and it appears regularly throughout her house.
Blending modern and traditional pieces did not always come easily to Eileen. “When we bought the house, the interiors were very traditional,” she remembers. “My taste was more contemporary, and I worried about how to meld the two styles.”
Over time, however, she felt more comfortable asserting her style. “Slowly I started to add more contemporary elements, and I realized the traditional envelope of my home’s exterior blended very nicely with modern elements,” she says. “When we decided to pull the trigger and add a 9-foot modern window in the kitchen, we were thrilled with the result, and it gave us the courage to add more contemporary elements throughout the house, both inside and out.”
COASTAL TREASURES. A glossy agate-topped box, a clear glass vase filled with fresh flowers, and white coral mounted on an acrylic base refer to Eileen’s coastal community. But each object also pairs a natural element with one that is manmade, another example of how Eileen brings opposites together. These items add texture to her workspace without creating distraction. And the fresh flowers are a necessity. “I always try to have fresh flowers at my desk. It helps my sanity in the long winters,” she laughs.
GO DUTCH. The facade of the Deschapelleses’ Dutch Colonial is a welcoming sight, enhanced by the landscaping and styling of Robin Kramer Garden Designs. The lush yard receives both sunshine and shade in equal measures.