“Working on family houses challenges me in a huge way,”
says decorator Fran Keenan. “You have to balance living in beauty with making it functional.” In
2012, she and her husband, Matt, moved with their three kids into a 2,500-square-foot cottage in Birmingham. The nearly 100year-old home was in the right place but offered neither beauty nor function. Luckily, combining personality with practicality is what Keenan does best. She then kicked off a six-month renovation that involved finding about 200 extra square feet and punching up the interiors. A new gable built on the front of the house created space for an extra bedroom, and Keenan eliminated a powder bath to add a pantry and laundry area. She then dialed the design all the way up with her signature style: vibrant and eclectic yet classic and smart. Imagine freehandpainted walls, wild animal prints, thrifty finds, and knockout color combos. Most importantly, though, it’s comfortable and works well for her family. “Great decorating is all about straddling that tension,” she explains. “It feels pulled together, but you can still come in and plop down. No room is off-limits.” Read on for Keenan’s 10 new rules for cottage style.