September 13, 2016
John Douglas Eason Adds Punch and Panache to a Victorian Home in Westchester County
Designer John Douglas Eason brings sophistication and sensibleness to a young family's renovated Westchester Victorian.
by Jorge S. Arango interior designer John Douglas Eason Interior Design photographer Jody Kivort
To Petrarch's assertion that "The aged love what is practical while impetuous youth longs only for what is dazzling," John Douglas Eason suggests a middle ground. When referred to a young "fairly traditional" couple who'd just renovated a 3,500-square-foot Victorian in Pelham in Westchester County, he offered this proposal: "I wanted to respect the period of the house while making it more modern for a young family, but also add some punch and panache."
The clients asked Eason to work with the palette of neutrals they had used on interior walls (mostly grays and beiges). "I would not normally take on a project where the wall colors were predetermined because it's such a key component in setting the tone for the space," concedes Eason. But he accepted the challenge and headed to showrooms—paint chips in hand—with the intent to vary and personalize the palette with other design choices. "I like colors to complement who lives in the house," says Eason, who settled on a predominantly blue scheme that played beautifully against the wife's fair-skinned Irish complexion and red hair.
Then Eason began pursuing a simultaneously pragmatic and glamorous track. The couple had two young children and a modest budget, so, he says, "I knew this was not the sort of job where we were going to spend $200 or $300 a yard on fabric." Instead, he mixed linen with fabrics like faux leather and cotton (versus silk) velvets that telegraphed a luxe—but level-headed—aesthetic.
In keeping with the kid-friendly concept, Eason nixed the idea of a carpet in the dining room but compensated for that missing warmth and texture by covering the ceiling with grass cloth that also emanates a subtly stylish sheen. Equally out of children's reach in this room are a crystal chandelier and sconces. (Any rugs he did use were washable wool with graphic patterns that provided a modern punch.)
Furniture silhouettes are typically cleaner, contemporary takes on classical forms that "evoke a time and period without being too precious"—Louis-style chairs in the dining room and around a game table in the living room, a neoclassical caned chair in one of the living room seating areas. Details throughout elevate rooms to a more sophisticated level: nailhead trim, a navy blue border on curtains, midcentury glass pieces, jewelry-like mirrors.
"The kids did and still do play in the living room," says Eason. "But you learn where you can get a lot of bang for not a lot of buck. It's comfortable, yet there's also a very rich look here."
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