Edith-Anne Duncan Brings Bold Colors, Classic Style to Historic Home in Virginia

A recently built home gets a timeless refresh at the hands of Virginia-based designer Edith-Anne Duncan.

In the dining room, a set of chairs brought from the owners’ previous residence was the jumping off point for the teal palette. They are complemented by a botanical Schumacher wallcovering and neutral grasscloth on the ceiling. Polished accents add to the room’s refined yet current feel.

Text: Tiffany Adams
Photos: Dustin Peck

Historic homes were all this couple had known when they made the move from South Carolina to Blacksburg, Virginia. “We’ve always lived in older homes. Our last one was a 1930s Tudor with a lot of character,” says one of the homeowners. Upon arrival in their new town, acquaintances introduced them to interior designer Edith-Anne Duncan, and the couple found an ideal property just two doors down from Duncan and her husband. There was only one problem: the house was new.

Bold Colors, Classic Style

Bold Colors, Classic Style

Bold Colors, Classic Style

Bold Colors, Classic Style

Built in 2008, the couple and designer both longed to infuse it with an aged-over-time charm. “They wanted to give it bones and character—and I said, ‘I can do that!’” Duncan says. “It was amazing to find someone I could trust so quickly,” the owner notes. “I knew we could enter into anything with her and trust her to make it happen—and that was such a relief.”

Looking at the big picture, Duncan started by eliminating dated columns and streamlining the cased opening’s eyebrow arches. The floors were stained in a richer brown hue; can lights were traded for eye-catching yet purposeful fixtures; trim and millwork features, including a Chippendale-inspired ceiling treatment in the living room, were added; and even the doorknobs were exchanged for more cosmopolitan egg-shaped glass options. “I like classic elements, but then I like to throw in something a little unexpected or more contemporary,” Duncan says. “The owners are sophisticated yet casual—and the house portrays that.”

As for the existing floor plan, the biggest change came in relocating the kitchen pantry to allow for access between the dining room and kitchen as well as the creation of a bar area and butler’s pantry. “I knew I wanted this because we entertain a lot,” the homeowner says. “I was walking through the dining room and said ‘Edith-Anne, it should be somewhere in here, but it just won’t work.’ And, in a stroke of genius, she said, ‘The pantry! We’ll relocate the pantry.’ Now everything flows so nicely from the dining room all the way to the breakfast nook.”

For all the nods to historical, classic influence, the design still feels very current and comfortable, which can be attributed to both palette and material selections. In terms of color, two big jumping off points were the teal hue seen in the dining room chairs and a Windy O’Connor painting that is prominently displayed in the breakfast nook. “I’ve always been fascinated with different pieces of art, and I started trying to invest in them for special occasions,” the homeowner says of the piece she brought from their previous residence. In the adjoining kitchen, Dekton countertops continue up the wall for a clean, seamless appearance, while upholstered pieces in the breakfast room and family room are covered in performance fabrics to create an unfussy design where everyone can feel relaxed.

After the initial renovation, Duncan also steered the couple through the addition of a sunroom, which—much like the main rooms—appears to have been in place for decades. The structure, designed from a picture Duncan shared with the architect, replaced a wooden deck. Inside, a coffered ceiling with inset beadboard, painted floors, and a limestone mantel are timeless details that give the room the same look as what is seen from the exterior. “The sunroom feels like it was here but has been refreshed, like the home has been built onto over time,” Duncan says.

“I like to let a designer come in and do her thing,” the homeowner says. “Duncan pushed me, and I’ve never been disappointed with the outcome. She thought of so many details that really set the house apart.”

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