When Life Changes, Design Supports

A new environment for a client's new life, from Karen Beckwith Creative.

The author would like to thank Grace Barrow for her important assistance in writing this article.

The architecture of our client’s home was designed to embrace a perfectly bucolic view of a Berkshire pond, meadows, and extensive gardens along a curve. Though she had lived happily in the house for many years with her beloved husband and raised children to adulthood, her life changed when her husband passed away. At our first meeting, our client specifically asked us to bring femininity and softness into her living space; it was time to have her environment updated to reflect her present moment, and take her into the future. At her request, we focused on the living room, family room, and owner’s suite using a palette of her favorite things: colors from her garden, the sky, and water.

Our first step in creating a lighter, airier feeling in the living room was to ask our client to edit down a lifetime’s worth of ephemera. The room felt ‘close’, crowded with treasures collected over the years. She graciously obliged us, first sifting through a large collection of books. We removed a built in bookcase to get a better traffic flow and incorporated furniture that would seat more friends. Grounding the room is our custom-made rug in a pattern reminiscent of moving water, which speaks to the pond below. Our sky palette of warmer blues, ivory, and taupe bring peace and calm. This new aesthetic is cleaner, yet ties to the traditional charm of her occasional furniture.

The living room before. Photo courtesy of Karen Beckwith Creative.


The living room after, here and in photo at the top of this article. The built-in bookcase has been removed. The new furniture accommodates more guests. The rug speaks to the pond outside, and the drapes continue the sky palette. Photo by Scott Barrow Photography

In the casual family room, we encouraged our client to keep her beautiful wall of antique books because they created such a delightful backdrop, adding texture and coziness to a room that is otherwise glass on three sides. Refreshing green and white hydrangea blossoms printed on linen are gathered into French pleated drapery, which meet in the corners of three walls. The folds of flowers soften the strong light of a summer day. European linen woven into chunky textures and happy green stripes keep the room connected to the garden. A Karen Beckwith Creative designed ottoman-table centers around a cozy wood stove.

The family room before. Photo courtesy of Karen Beckwith Creative

A big change in the family room resulted from our approach to the rug. Previously, a series of small scale oriental rugs were scattered throughout the space which made the room feel too disjointed; we repurposed them in other rooms. Incorporating a single custom-sized natural floor covering – large enough to include the whole space – unified all the activity areas and allowed the eyes to rest on the view, the patterns, and the colors.

The family room after. Photo by Scott Barrow Photography
A closer look at the French pleated drapery in the refreshed family room, with green and white hydrangea blossoms printed on linen. Photo by Scott Barrow Photography

For the owner’s suite we created a soft cocoon in our client’s favorite color: periwinkle blue. She wanted an upholstered headboard with her bed positioned between the two windows. A commercially available king size headboard would not fit so we designed a dramatic pull-tufted headboard and had it inserted between the trim of the two windows. We then suspended her artwork over the headboard from brass brackets. Again, linen window treatments extend our weathered paint color in soft folds. An un-dyed natural wool rug cut to size is super plush under bare feet.

The bedroom before. Photo courtesy of Karen Beckwith Creative
The bedroom after, with a custom created headboard that fits perfectly between the windows and displays the client’s artwork. A super plush carpet continues the soothing new color scheme. Photo by Scott Barrow Photography
A cozy reading corner in the newly designed bedroom. Photo by Scott Barrow Photography

An interior designer’s tasks often include helping clients with spatial changes that coincide with life transitions. We came into this client’s life after a loss and wanted to create a space that would support her going forward. Her favorite parts of her home remain the same – the stunning views, her antique books, pictures of her family – but replacing the dark and outdated are soothing colors and cozy textures that combine in a home that reflects her, now.