Kathryn Ivey used a leather loveseat to balance the room's color palette.
A low profile loveseat and slipper chairs keep the space open, as the living room flows to the dining room. “Because we were using light colors and textures, I wanted something heartier to balance it, so we used a camel leather to cover a loveseat,” Kathryn says.

Sometimes all you need for a new beginning is to start right where you’re at. Rather than move to a new place, opt for a top-to-bottom makeover and turn your house into the home you’ve always dreamed of.

Wanting a fresh start for herself and her two children after a divorce, this homeowner seized the opportunity to redesign every room in her own style. “It was a full facelift for the entire home, and her way of reflecting the new season she was entering with her kids,” says interior designer Kathryn Ivey.

The living room, though formal, does not sacrifice comfort when it comes to seating.
The chandelier features lily-of-the-valley shaped bells made of porcelain.

Leaving no detail untouched, they infused her personal style into every design decision, making over the once-ordinary home in suburban Washington, D.C. with heavy, ornate furniture into a more transitional style of home with a light and airy feminine flair.

“Along with bringing the interior up to date, she had a clear aesthetic in terms of what she enjoys, which is very feminine colors and soft textures, and she wanted it to be a relaxing space,” Kathryn says. Here are the details behind creating the soothing, cohesive look.

the homeowner loves a little bit of sparkle, so the Ceasarstone counter surfaces have a little shimmer to them, while overhead crystal pendants add glamour.

Opening up

Delicate hues of cream, white, gray and blue were key to the home’s transformation. Continuing the color scheme keeps the rooms flowing from one to the next and brings the entire design together.

Like most other family houses, the kitchen is the heart of the home and connects to the breakfast area. They elected to remove the kitchen cabinet fronts for show-off open shelving, which the homeowner loves to decorate with her colorful glassware.

With multi-functionality in mind, the breakfast room table, located between the kitchen and family room, is also a desk and a command center.

The breakfast room serves as a sort of pass-through area, but they covered the walls here in a Phillip Jeffries woven grasscloth to give it a sense of place. “It has a beautiful texture to it with blues, grays and greens in it that lead into the family room where we used Farrow & Ball Blackened paint, which is the faintest blue-gray,” Kathryn says.

A barely-there lucite side table adds to the family room’s airy atmosphere.

While the soft color palette visually expands the space, other design tricks create the light and bright feeling throughout. To bring in as much light as possible, they opted not to hide the windows behind window treatments.

With a little help from furnishings such as glass coffee tables, mirrored chests and a buffet, and transparent lucite chairs that reflect light, the clean and simple palette feels very feminine and glamorous.

A glass-front cabinet displays treasures and stores clutter
A traditional cabinet displays treasure and stores family room clutter away, while gracefully balancing the space.

Maximizing storage and space

Even in a spacious home, storage is necessary. Kathryn worked with the family to figure out how they used every space in the home—and what would make sense for storage and minimizing clutter.

They created storage to fit each space such as custom built-in cabinetry or large bookshelves. In the case of the family room, Kathryn explains, “It was a need for storage, but also a need to take up space because the rooms are so large. You have these large blank walls that need a focal point, but you’re always going to need storage.”

A light and airy master bedroom
The master bedroom perfectly combines light and airy with plush and cozy.
The reading nook is the perfect place to relax.
Reflective surfaces, like the mirrored nightstands, are a glamorous addition to the neutral bedroom.


They added a custom uphostered daybed to the master bedroom, daybed surrounded by bookshelves as a casual reading spot. “Her daughter loves to come in and hang out so we upholstered the daybed in a blush linen fabric and added a grasscloth wallpaper behind it and bookshelves as well,” Kathryn says.

Floral wallpaper makes a statement on the ceiling, while still appearing feminine and delicate.

One pretty focal point in the entire home is a space that solely belongs to mom: her master closet, which was completely designed as an elegant dressing area.

With such high ceilings, Kathryn decided to use the top perimeter of the closet to add small cabinets for storing hats and seasonal items. “If you have a lack of space, height is your friend,” Kathryn says.

The free-standing soaking tub is an elegant focal point in the master bath. The shades can be drawn for privacy, but will still allow sunshine.
Surrounded by pale pinks, creamy whites and other dreamy finishes, the vanity chair’s cheetah print cushion add a wild element of interest.

Then in the adjoining master bathroom, they created two pretty vanities with Venetian mirrors, one with a mirrored glass makeup tabletop.

“She loved the idea of white-washed wood floors, which isn’t practical for a bathroom, so we went with a porcelain floor that looked like white painted wood and it turned out absolutely beautiful,” Kathryn says.

3 Ways to Balance Comfort and Clutter:

  • Choose attractive furniture pieces you love that are also practical. For example, opt for soft furnishings that save space and are easy to clean, like upholstered ottomans and slipcovered sofas.
  • A cheerful painting in the entryway is a welcome first impression.

    Add storage to every space, no matter its size. Whether you add built-in cabinets or some sort of shelves, storage is a must. Don’t just go for utilitarian pieces; select the prettiest storage pieces you can find that become design features in a space.

  • Accessorize, but continue to cull. “The small things (throws, art and lighting) are as important as the large pieces, like the sofas, chairs and bookcases, but they add warmth and personality,” Kathryn says. “You need to always be cultivating your spaces with an edited eye and add those things that mean a lot to you,” Kathryn says.