In an exclusive Q&A, interior designer Louis Duncan-He delivers all the must-know details on how this charming, colorful family home came to be.
What were your overall needs for this space?
This was a new build I worked on with Tree House Developments and the ask was for a space that the family of five could grow into. With three rambunctious boys about three years apart, it also needed to be very durable and a space they could really use and live in. This is always a goal of mine when creating a space—it needs to look amazing, elicit the right feelings, but also be a home that can really give and perform for the people living in it, because ultimately that’s what homes are for. They are for us to create memories and stories.
Were there any challenges designing this space?
Whenever I work with homeowners where both partners want to play an equal role in the direction, naturally, the challenge is to find a way to amalgamate both viewpoints. Now as much as I see this as a challenge, I also view it as a key ingredient in creating a compelling home. At my firm we strive to thoughtfully reveal the aspirations from all decision makers involved. And with that, comes a beautiful tension between perspectives that if paired correctly, are the secret ingredient in creating something truly special and unique. For this specific project, the ask was for a home that would distill a sense of energy and adventure from the earthy Rocky mountains while also maintaining a calming and serene coastal essence. I think we netted out at a perfect place where we combined and melded both the asks.
Did you have any special considerations or requirements when creating the room?
The family loves to travel and spend a lot of their time exploring different places and also countries, so they wanted to make sure that the home not only had its own energy, but could hold and house their collection of art and treasures collected throughout the years and highlight them. The dining room also needed to be both a space that could transition into a formal dining room, but also carry a more casual energy with the placement of the piano, so we made sure to find different textures and elements in the room that would add richness, energy and also a relaxed sense of formality.
How does the flooring play into your design?
Flooring played a huge role in the dining room specifically. We ended up deciding to use hardwood flooring and insert it into the tray ceiling to create a real sense of earthy richness and give the room immediate interest. Because there was such a strong desire to have those natural elements (both from the mountains and coastal references), we thought this would be the perfect way to create an impact and set the stage as the formal dining room is right off the entrance.
Why did you choose the colors used in the space?
We chose colors that could be found within nature, both mountain and coast alike. We wanted to make sure that the main blue accent color they wanted to use didn’t come across as too “cookie cutter” and literal (design by matching color numbers). We introduced rust, earthy browns, creamy taupes and also mossy greens to really add dimension and a natural sensibility. We also played with subtle pattern and color transitions to make sure that everything kind of both had vibrancy but also wasn’t too overpowering and still seemed natural.
What is your favorite aspect of this project?
My favorite part of the project was seeing how much the family truly used and loved that home. After the home was built, we were able to fully furnish and style the entire space within a month of them moving in. This completely blew their minds as our client states, We managed to move into our newly built home and have it look completely polished with photos and art on every wall and all the finishing touches done within a month of moving in. This was priceless. No one can believe how put together our home looks when we only moved in months ago. It would have taken years to get it to this stage on our own and even still it wouldn't have looked nearly as good."
What materials used echo some of the design trends for 2021?
Well lots of the blue and teal tones are going to be staples of 2021 as demonstrated by Benjamin Moore's announcement of Aegean Teal. I think in addition, there are so many natural tones in the house that echo the trend of reconnecting with the outdoors. We have a lot of light natural wood, earthy textures in wallpaper, a lot of tone on tone and also natural materials like wicker and thicker weaves. All of these elements combined create a space that is both restorative and truly brings the outdoors in.
Interior Design: LOUIS DUNCAN-HE DESIGNS Home Build: TREE HOUSE DEVELOPMENTS Photography: HEATHER DUNBAR