Designers like to say every room tells a story. But Melissa LaSalle, known on Instagram as “The Book Mommy,” felt that after a few sporadic additions, her 1930s Colonial-style home outside Washington, D.C., had lost its plot. She enlisted interior designer Melissa Colgan, formerly an editor at Martha Stewart WeddingsAnd Elle DecorAnd Beautiful house (and part of this year’s Next Wave class), to revise her story by reworking the design to fit her family of four—with plenty of reading nooks, of course.
“We wanted there to be a sense of who the family is from the moment you open the front door,” Colgan says. “So we commissioned custom bookshelves to highlight Melissa’s rare and first editions of books like Winnie-the-Pooh and Pinocchio. Then I suggested painting the room purple. She said, ‘Let’s try it!'” A larger palette leans more saturated and traditional in the original brick section of the home and lighter and brighter in the newly remodeled additions. LaSalle and husband Ryan have two school-age children, so creating a central core was a priority. But they wanted the open floor plan to feel homely and Offering the casual intimacy of a great place to curl up and read.
For Colgan, that meant adding a sense of personality. “I got a bee in the hood about using real old barn beams as an accent,” she says. “You can make it look old, but I wanted that authentic patina. I tracked down 200-year-old hemlock beams in a Pennsylvania barn and brought them in.”
In spaces like the kitchen, living, and dining room, beams, along with lively furniture and textiles, add charm and comfort, eliminating the big white box effect such open-plan layouts can enhance. Even the most formal dining area feels warm and inviting, thanks to the soft pine table and sweeping curtains.
All the while, the home’s story unfolds slowly, thanks to layers of patterns, like a giraffe-print chair atop an acid green rug in the living area and distressed bedding framed by ottoman-inspired curtains in the primary bedroom. After all, in good design – as it is in a page-turner – it’s the surprisingly skilful combination of elements that keeps us enthralled until the very end.
Built-in appliances are new but designed to reflect the character of the original 1930’s home. Glass cabinets highlight rare and collectible books. paint: Mauve Blush, Benjamin Moore. chair: Michael Taylor Designs. rug: Vintage, Asia Minor Carpets. Couch: Lee PPG, in Manuel Canovas velvet. Pillow: custom, per Schumacher fabric.
Family room and dining area
In the center of the house, “Chesterfield sofas look sharp yet feel comfortable,” says Colgan. Couch: Hickory Chair, in Soane fabric. light: Visual Comfort & Co. , with Fermoie shades on the lamps.
Colgan says the shelves are inspired by French pastry-making, while the blue paint evokes “worn jeans.” Hardware: Thermador. counter seats: a century. pendants: Visual Comfort & Co. pelvis: signature devices. combinations: Newport Brass.
Colgan carved out a bright dining area near the living room and kitchen. chairs: Villa and house in Maamara fabric. dinning table: custom. curtains: Custom, Jasper by Michael S. Smith fabric.
Reclaimed hemlock beams add a true-to-life feel. chandelier: making goods. curtains: Custom, in Martyn Lawrence Bullard fabric. bed frame: John Robshaw. bedding: Matouk.
Envelope cPoetry By Lauren Liess for Taylor King makes your reading nook totally cozy. curtains: Pilchard Designs, fabric: Martin Lawrence Pollard. Roman shades: horizons. sheep: Curves Floor Lamp No. 1, Mark Sykes for Hudson Valley. paint: Benjamin Moore.
Colgan used a client’s favorite wallpaper from her previous dining room. paint: Newburyport Blue, Benjamin Moore. faucet: Kohler. hard light: Visual Comfort & Co. Wall paper: quadrille.
The Pierre Fry Diwali print, which depicts the Indian holiday, is just the kind of joy customers wanted to celebrate. candelabra: Vaughan. ego: Kingston Brass. hand towels: D. Porthault. Mirror: antique chair.
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