I had this vision of making it a little jewel box,” homeowner Candace Ourisman recalls thinking when she and her husband, Chris, purchased their first house together in Bethesda, Maryland: a 1948 center-hall colonial with a recent two-story addition off the back. They already had many of the gems—the couple moved in with an impressive collection of antiques handed down from both their families—so the next step was infusing the home with jolts of contemporary style and Candace’s unabashed love of color.
Candace had been chronicling her inspirations for the new home on her personal style blog, using phrases such as “proud and fearless,” “daring yet classic,” and “minimal yet opulent” to describe the saturated images of interiors and fashion that she was posting. But she needed help channeling it all into a home that “wouldn’t look like a circus,” she explains. After interviewing several designers, the Ourismans landed on Erica Burns, whom Candace had met through a mutual friend, and in the first meeting, the couple knew she understood what they were looking for. “I could feel this traditional thread laced through what they wanted, but with plenty of color,” Burns explains. “It was very 1970s glam—and a little bit Kelly Wearstler,” the Hollywood designer whose interiors make frequent appearances on Candace’s blog.
The layout of the home lent itself to the lady of the house’s jewel box notion, with smaller rooms in the original section presenting an opportunity for wildly different hues and patterns from one space to the next. “I liked the idea of people walking through these separate rooms, and each space having its own energy,” Candace says.
Emerald and gold take the stage in the dining room, where an elaborate gilded mirror—a gift from Chris’ grandmother—occupies an entire wall, and the windows are dressed in billowing green silk-taffeta. To avoid a country club feel, “the dining room just needed something really bold on the walls,” Burns says. Wearstler’s graphic channels wallpaper fit the bill, topped with a made goods chandelier fashioned from brass palm leaves. “It’s so Candace,” the designer adds. “It’s palm beach-y, but it’s edgy palm beach-y.”
Across the foyer, Burns embodied the “floral amazingness” Candace had described in one of her blog posts with Isaac Mizrahi’s mega chintz on floor-to- ceiling drapery panels, which explode in purple, pink and blue blooms. “I’ve always loved that fabric, but never had the chance to use it,” she says; the owners’ living room gave her the long-awaited opportunity. The draperies dictated the color scheme, which Burns indulged with deep eggplant-hued velvet on the sofa, Kelly green cording on the white linen slipper chairs and varied juicy hues on the throw pillows. Anchoring it all is a large antique coffee table, gilded demilune table from Candace’s mother and a neutral sisal rug.
Art played a large part in each room’s design. Candace, who collects fine art photography, hung an oversize print by polish photographer Sonia Szóstak in the living room—a black-and-white image of models in swimsuits that adds contrast to a room filled with vintage pieces. “I wanted something graphic, and I like that it’s a little sexy,” says Candace.
“Sexy” gets amplified in the family room addition, where an even bigger print by fashion photographer ben watts depicts women on rainbow-colored bicycles. “I loved the energy. It felt so positive and happy and strong,” Candace says. Burns then stepped in, combing the wife’s collection of vintage books for covers in red, yellow, blue and green to create another rainbow on the adjacent shelves.
Candace had blogged about the watts and Szóstak works before placing them in her home, and she had mused about many of the color combinations that now fill its rooms. “She has a great eye for spectacular things,” Burns says. “She had the vision and the antiques; I helped her bring everything together.”