For her sister’s Charlotte, North Carolina, home, Atlanta designer Carter Kay used masterful color combinations to blend traditional style with modern attitude.There’s the starter home, the family home, and then, perhaps, the “grown-up” home. As the nest empties, it may be time for the latter.
Text: Alice Welsh Doyle
Photography: Jeff Herr
A homeowner in Charlotte embraced that change, moving to a newly renovated house in the historic Eastover neighborhood that only needed some tweaking to make it just right. With one tap on her mobile phone, she connected to her sister, Atlanta interior designer Carter Kay, to help ease the transition. “We were ready to rethink the way we live,” says the homeowner, “and that was the driving force behind the move. We wanted to leave our more traditional floor plan behind and instead have indoor-outdoor living options and spacious rooms to host everyone.”
The home’s exterior gives a nod to Charleston, with the main entrance on the side attached to a generous veranda that offers views of the pool, the entertaining area, and lush grounds. While the renovations were certainly beautiful, the color palette did not work. “My sister prefers darker, almost muddy tones—the colors of antique tapestries,” says Kay.
In the living room, a two-toned patterned wool rug, along with a piece from the homeowner’s noteworthy collection of contemporary art, informed the palette with taupes, warm melons, and French blues. “The long and low mid-century-style sofa is really a dirt color,” Kay laughs. “It’s very forgiving, and we purposely chose a tufted treatment on the seat cushion so that it will keep its shape no matter how many people are sitting on it.” Pillows in a Fortuny fabric, as well as a Sputnik-style chandelier, show off that studied balance of Old-World richness imbued with modern sensibility.
The homeowner had inherited pieces she wanted to work into the design, including the very traditional dining room table and chairs from her parents that had originally belonged to her grandparents. The furniture heralded from the era of matchy-matchy, so Kay knew she needed to shake it up a bit in the dining room. A whimsical Tony Duquette–designed chandelier adds liveliness, as do cachepots in a mottled metallic finish.
The ceiling, covered in a silver metallic tea paper, and the wall inset of vintage mirrored panels bring glamour to the space. An antique semainier, traditionally used to hold lingerie, sits against the mirrored wall, tempering it a bit and adding ideal storage space for table linens.
The sisters had some fun decorating the unusually shaped library. The walls, painted a high-gloss, dark gray, create a moody atmosphere at night, making it a perfect spot to curl up and relax. With traditional rugs out of the question, Kay layered cream and brown cowhides to warm the space. And a sofa from the prior home, re-covered in an indoor-outdoor velvet, proved perfect for Cavalier King Charles spaniels Lucy and Tank, demonstrating that the transition to the “grown-up” house took all the family members into account.
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