Seven years after moving into their house in a new suburban development, the couple who had it built was ready for a change. More mature now with a better sense of style (not to mention two young daughters), they sought to add color, luster and sophistication to their more neutral Oakton, Virginia, home.
The wife, who had been poring over decorating magazines and searching the Internet for ideas, found nearby designer Lauren Liess through her popular blog, Pure Style Home. “I was looking for something youthful, fresh and clean,” the wife says. “I wanted everything to be family-friendly, informal and livable.”
That’s where Liess came in. Working with Image Flooring and carpenter Michael Carr, Liess first oversaw the kitchen remodel, helping the owner replace the stained-maple cabinetry and brown granite counters with white-paneled cabinets and twinkling quartzite surfaces. The designer added more panache with a mini-mosaic glass backsplash and polished-nickel light fixtures. On the rest of the main level, Liess replaced wall-to-wall carpeting and oak floors with wide-plank hardwood in a deep espresso stain. She then installed tall baseboards to complement the 9-foot room heights, and added new personality to the foyer with a gridwork of molding on the ceiling.
Color and texture were next. “It’s a large house,” says Liess. “My aim was to make it warm and intimate, so I added soft color to the walls, as well as pretty wallpapers and grass-cloth ceilings.” The homeowner had selected a palette of pale blues and serene creams, and kept some existing furniture, including a creamy yellow sofa in the family room. Liess began her transformative work in this two-story space, because it was open to the rest of the house.
Here, the designer introduced youthful patterns—both botanical and geometric—via upholstery, curtains and pillows, and she layered multiple textures, such as plush mohair-velvet wingbacks and a coarse sisal rug laid beneath the custom wool carpet. Liess then hung long curtains from hardware mounted along the ceiling’s periphery rather than from rods bisecting the triple-arched windows, as before. She completed the room with a mix of new furnishings and vintage finds. “I like to layer elements to make a space welcoming,” the designer says. “I especially love pulling in natural textures. In a big house, layering makes the rooms cozier. A layered home also feels lived-in.”
Liess used iridescent details, such as the living room’s Capiz-shell chandelier and shimmery wallpaper, to balance the decor’s organic feel and to ramp up the glamour. Mirrored furnishings and metallic finishes abound everywhere, reflecting and amplifying light from the new fixtures she also installed. “Lighting is so important,” Liess explains, “especially in a house where the ceilings are so tall. I used lighting to create focal points in each room … like pieces of jewelry.” Oly’s Pipa chandelier in the foyer, made of folded resin that resembles ribbon candy, is a standout among the home’s many eye-catching fixtures.
The overall result is striking. “When I first saw the house, it was much more traditional,” Liess says. “Now, it’s fresher, lighter, happier and more personal—a far better match for my clients.” The wife agrees: “The house is definitely more custom now, and I love it. My kids are all over the place, doing homework in the dining room, playing piano in the living room; my husband and I spend a lot of time together in the kitchen and family room. It really feels like us.”