Maybe it’s our post-holiday wish for all things easy and relaxing, or maybe it’s the never-ending expanse of white wonderland outside our windows. Whatever it is, when we saw this casually elegant, gently hued New Jersey living room designed by Kevin Isbell in the December/January issue of House Beautiful, we couldn’t resist letting out a collective sigh.
Beyond the obvious pastel prettiness, we’re big admirers of some of the visual tricks Kevin employed in this space. To make the low ceilings seem taller, for example, he painted the ceilings a high-gloss blue (Constellation by Benjamin Moore). He then used a muted green—Celery, also by Benjamin Moore—on the walls, with darker echoes of the color in the sofa, the curtains and accent pillows, and the feet of the armchairs, to ground the lighter tones.
The mix of textures—from the mohair-covered cushions on the sofa to the smooth cotton twills of the armchairs and love seat, and the rough-hewn quality of the natural-fiber rug and woven basket—almost begs a bit of fondling. We love Kevin’s expert balancing of feminine colors, florals, and ribbon trim with masculine dark woods, dark leather, and strong lines, like the leather-upholstered, nailhead-trim klismos chair, the collection of framed architectural drawings, and the leather-topped metal coffee table by the secondary seating area.
And those brass accents? Genius for adding a touch of shine, warmth, and luxury to the room. But perhaps the most brilliant addition is the Victorian sorcerer’s mirror placed over the extra doorway, to create the illusion of a solid wall behind that distinctive, 12-foot-long sofa. It’s a lesson in how to play with challenging proportions, and how to create a soft, easy, welcoming sanctuary.