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True Colors

A few daring moves take a suburban house from ho-hum to humdinger

Combine a little bit of paint with a willingness to tweak other materials at hand, and the result can be an inventive interior that doesn’t require an astronomical budget or major construction, as Geneva-based designer Madeline Roth proved when she transformed this 1970s-era suburban home.

“My clients lived in the city before buying this house,” says Roth, “and once they were here, they thought, ‘We like it, but how are we going to make it into what we really want?’” Not ready to execute a top-to-bottom redo, they targeted the kitchen, dining room, and family room for Roth’s attention.

Judicious recycling and inspired use of affordable materials (Roth calls her approach “pillage and plunder") meant the clients could devote more of their resources to top-quality appliances and new furniture. And a little paint did, indeed, go a long way.

kitchen after redecorating
Photography: “After” Photofields
kitchen before redecorating

Updated Woodwork
Cabinets were removed, painted white, outfitted with metal pulls, and rehung in a more efficient layout. With the soffit gone, cabinets over the stove could extend to the ceiling.

Light Touches
A cheerful mosaic on the wall over the stove and task lights over the island brighten the formerly drab space.

New Island
A vintage potting table elevated on bun feet, painted aqua, and finished with a maple butcher-block top has an airier look than the solid island it replaced.

living room after redecorating
living room before redecorating

Scaled-Down Fireplace
A brick fireplace was covered with wood paneling that had been painted white; an oversize mantel was cut down, painted, and rehung a bit higher.

Functional Elegance
An acrylic sisal-like rug, a Murano glass lamp from the 1950s, and Roman shades with a squiggly motif raise the chicness quotient.

Maximized Art
Vintage Japanese watercolors on rice paper, inexpensively framed and hung in a grid pattern, enliven the wall and draw the eye upward.

Bold Proportions, Strong Hues
A traditional tufted sofa with golden upholstery partners with a mammoth, leather-covered ottoman and svelte armchairs in a luscious red.


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