A Litchfield County Weekend Home Is Designed to Perfection

Paris Forino comfortably mixes clean-lined elements with their traditional counterparts.
Traditional Dining Room With Chandelier

Photography by Neil Landino Jr.

Paris Forino came to New York in 2003 with an interior design degree from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. She also arrived with a decidedly contemporary bent and a skill set honed during her first job at a Sydney firm. “Things are much more modern in Sydney but here people often respond to things that are historically referenced,” says Forino. “I definitely had to shift my style.”

By the time she opened her eponymous firm in 2012, that “shift” found her comfortably mixing clean-lined elements with their traditional counterparts. In Forino’s world, velvet cushions and metal accents are happy companions, tufted sofas offset the crisp edges of stone coffee tables, and that idea of balance is essential to everything she touches. Consider the weekend home she shares with her husband and their young son as an illustration.

Baby Blue Kitchen Cabinets Design

Photography by Neil Landino Jr.

Intent on finding a getaway in Litchfield County, the couple settled on a 1920s Dutch Colonial in Middlebury. Noting the layout in the well-maintained historic structure was perfect and that there was no need for structural changes. The fact that it “wasn’t our taste” was liberating. Instead of dealing with skeletal issues, the focus could turn to redoing the existing oak floors with a light pickled finish, refreshing the walls with paint, wallpaper and new trim, and updating the kitchen with stone countertops and a crackle tile backsplash.

Holding nothing back, Forino wasted no time establishing the overall design scheme in the entry of her soon-to-be weekend home. The striped wallpaper, antique rattan chairs with bone inlay, and an oversized Chinese crackle vase signal her desire to mix things up, and have some fun. “The wallcovering is a little historical, the chairs look nicer than a bench, and with the vase they make a pretty vignette,” says the designer, who introduced a pink stair runner that brings a smile. All the while paving the way for other such moments like the rosy tone in the living room art deco rug, and the mauve-colored fabric on the master bedroom chairs.

Those pink hues are part of a quiet palette that extends to include pale blues and greens, all inspired by the landscape. “Lucky for us the previous owner had a green thumb,” Forino shares. She acknowledges the shaped shrubs and mounds of purple and pink flowers exerted an influence. “There’s a gentle aspect to the house and surroundings that I wanted to reflect on the interior, and the pinks, florals and bird motif definitely reflect the gardens,” says the designer.

With soft pastels providing the colorway, a variety of Swedish furnishings— like the 1920s chest in the living room and circa 1940s armchairs in the family room, the latter upholstered with a Pierre Frey pattern—serve as grounding elements. “I have a real penchant for Swedish pieces,” says Forino. who also took to pairing traditional items with current century lighting and artwork.

She also took to pairing traditional items with current century lighting and artwork. In the living room, for example, a pair of Marianne McGinnis watercolor fashion illustrations float above a Dmitriy chaise. Then, the contemporary cloud chandelier in the breakfast room contrasts with the Scandinavian-style farm table of her own design.

Garden Patio Furniture

Photography by Neil Landino Jr.

Meanwhile, back in the family room a pair of modern charcoals over a clean-lined sofa do a dance with the aforementioned Swedish armchairs, as Forino reminds us, “It’s all about playing with that balance.”

Along with keeping the equilibrium, the designer selected items and fabrics appropriate to the locale of her weekend home. “You don’t want the vibe of a house in Connecticut to feel like it belongs in Miami,” says Forino. “All of the vintage pieces are from the era of the house and give it a sense of gentleness and refinement in keeping with its history and location.”

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Style Shifter.
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