Although she’s lived in the Bay Area for 18 years, designer Nancy Evars still feels a strong connection to the opposite coast. Originally from New Orleans but raised in northern New Jersey, Evars grew up with an admiration for the traditional sensibilities of the nearby New England-style architecture. “I’ve always been drawn to Nantucket- and Cape Cod-style designs,” says the designer, who spent a summer on the island as a teen. So, when she and her husband, Scott, who also shares an affinity for the style, were looking to build their dream home in Atherton, California, they knew it would have to blend an East Coast-meets-West Coast taste. “I wanted a home that felt timeless and classic,” says Evars, “but one that also married California outdoor living with my roots.”
To help bring that vision to life, the couple called in the same duo–architect Larry Kahle and builder David Wright–who they’d worked with on their previous residence. Since the Evars and their three children wanted their new home to encourage an indoor-outdoor lifestyle, siting the structure on the property was critical. “The original house was set in the middle of the triangular lot with a large front yard,” says Kahle. “So, it made sense to push the new house forward to create a larger backyard space.”
By starting from scratch and placing the structure near the front of the property, the architect was able to design the two-story house with a large back patio that spills onto an expansive lawn. Though the siting encourages a West Coast feel, the aesthetics lean in the other direction. Cedar shingles, white trim and a covered entry porch mark the front facade and evoke an East Coast sensibility. Inside, architectural details like moldings, wainscoting and closed soffits underscore the traditional feel, and the layout follows suit. Having grown up in a Colonial-style house, Evars liked the idea of having some smaller rooms to give the home a formal sense. But since the family’s day-to-day lifestyle leans more casual, the couple wanted the floor plan to combine dedicated spaces–like a dining room and living room–in the front, with an open family room, kitchen and breakfast area in the back. To keep the areas feeling light, Kahle designed large windows, skylights and two sets of French doors that connect the family room with the patio.
When it came to appointing those light-filled spaces, Evars took a slightly riskier approach. “If there is any place to try something new, it’s definitely my own home!” she says. “I’ve always loved experimenting with bold choices.” Those daring decisions start at the front door, which the designer painted a high-gloss black hue by Fine Paints of Europe. Her use of rich colors continues through the front of the house with a hallway painted with an ashy green, cabinetry coated with a rich blue lacquer in the butler’s pantry, and dining chairs upholstered with navy velvet. “I wanted the bones of the house to lean traditional, but the colors and patterns to feel a little more playful,” says the designer.
That style is perhaps best expressed in the living room, where Evars wrapped the walls with a large-scale pink- and-purple oral wallpaper and grounded the space with a deep violet rug. “I love walking into a home and seeing a bold room right o the foyer,” she says. “It lets guests know to expect some fun.”
She upholstered an ottoman by Moxie Made–the furniture company she co-owns with Dimitra Anderson, who is also her partner at Evars + Anderson Interior Design–with an Elworthy Studio textile for an additional layer of interest in the space. The designer picked up the pattern thread in a small powder room, which she lined with a zebra-motif wallpaper, explaining that “bathrooms don’t have to look like the rest of the house.” Evars toned things down in the master bedroom–located on the ground floor to give her son and two daughters privacy in their upstairs bedrooms–with a soothing palette of navy, cream and lavender, which is the tone of the grass-cloth wallcovering lining the walls.
For the large family room and kitchen area, Evars kept the design to a more muted, everyday color scheme of soft blues and grays. “The family room is the most-used space in the house,” says the designer. “It needed to be a little quieter to allow the smaller rooms to have their bolder moments.” Two tailored sofas create ample seating options in the main space, which flows into the breakfast area and kitchen. Crisp white cabinetry, a marble backsplash and Caesarstone countertops complement the area’s warm brass hardware and walnut-topped island. The cupola– another nod to the designer’s East Coast roots–brings in light from above. Keeping in mind the indoor-outdoor lifestyle of the family, Kahle designed pocket windows connecting the kitchen with the outdoor yard and grill, perfect for passing food back and forth. “I’m really proud of how the house came out,” says Evars. “It’s traditional East Coast in the front and West Coast casual in the back.”