Tour a Traditional Colonial with Chic and Playful Interiors
A creative design carves new spaces to accommodate changing family needs.
There are two kinds of windows, both in evidence in this Westport traditional Colonial. There are, of course, the kind you see through, and then there is the window of opportunity. These homeowners and interior designer Michelle Hogue took full advantage of this window. Although the planning for the redesign of the first floor of this house began prior to the pandemic, it wasn’t until all interiors—except our own—closed that the real work could begin inside this traditional Colonial.
“We started demolition July 12, 2020,” recalls Hogue, “and by August 24, all was done.” Adds homeowner Lauren Nathan, “It was summer and we knew to seize the moment. My husband, Gil, and I had planned on sending our kids to camp, and when that couldn’t happen, we went ahead with the redesign.
Unlike many in the business, Hogue is an interior designer as well as a licensed general contractor. “I believe strongly that the design process is as important as the implementation,” she says. “The shorter the distance between signing the contract and finishing the job, the happier the client and the happier my team.
Nathan sought Hogue’s help because the house she and her family had occupied since 2009 “looked lived in and was showing wear and tear.” To add, her husband had no dedicated office space since beginning to work from home.
“When Michelle came to the house,” says Nathan, “she assured me that she could make the home an even happier, livelier place.” Hogue was determined to keep her promise. In the dining room, for instance, she chose decidedly fun sheepskin coverings for the dining chairs. “With three kids, I thought, white, in the dining room?” asks Nathan rhetorically, “but they’re easily removed and the chairs underneath are made of rope and designed for indoor/outdoor use.”
A blocked wallpaper pattern, paired with complementary-colored vases, many collected by Nathan’s mother, gives the room a whimsical feel that works for formal or casual meals. The room could also transform into a place for kids to put together puzzles.
To fashion a dedicated office, Hogue closed off a door between the family room and playroom. Now the husband has a real workspace to work from home. But, since this is a family that loves to be together, the room is also equipped with children’s desks, a TV and a sofa.
Also evident is a wallpapered ceiling, which Hogue refers to as “the fifth wall.” It uses paper made by women in South Africa, and a portion of the proceeds goes to women in that particular village. As for the yellow, Hogue insists the color “raises a person’s IQ and makes you alert. Individual pops of color against neutral backgrounds have an effect without being overwhelming.”
In the kitchen, the space and fixtures are virtually identical to what had existed, except that the cabinetry was painted white and faux tops added to make them flush with the ceiling. “Michelle also taught me that not every island has to have pendants hanging above, so out those went,” says Nathan.
The family stayed away from the traditional Colonial during the one-day installation process. When they walked in for the reveal, Nathan likens the experience to being on a home improvement TV show. “How I wish we could have filmed our reactions,” she recalls. “It was one of those moments with my hands on my cheeks, the kids running around exploring everything new. We came back to a new home, even though it had long been our home.”
The print version of this article appears with the headline: Long Division.
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