The Barnaby Project: Infusing Color & Character into a New Build

The Barnaby Project in D.C. started as a new build that had been constructed “on spec” for the previous owners. In case that’s a new term for you, a spec home is one that builders design for mass appeal, build, and then sell to a homebuyer after it’s complete. Translation: White walls everywhere and not a lot of character! 

After our clients got their hands on the place, they decided that a vanilla home just wasn’t cutting it. They wanted life and character in there, spaces where their kids could play, where they could entertain other adults, and where they could express their personality. As you know, that’s what we do.

The Game Plan

Since this home was essentially brand new — give or take a few years — this was not a major renovation. We planned to incorporate some fixed design elements, like wallpaper, lighting, and paint, but the rest of the rest of the transformation would be up to the furnishings. We created the design plan, ordered our clients’ furnishings, and then...

An Unexpected Turn of Events

This project’s installation was set for mid-March 2020. However, that date probably looks familiar… this just so happened to be the month that the entire country went into Covid lockdown. Our clients, who had already been waiting for months, had to wait another 3 months. 

Finally, in June 2020, even though it was a scary time, we couldn’t let our clients live in their uncomfortable, unfinished home any longer. We travelled to D.C. while the family was out of town and installed everything top to bottom! Yes, we wore face masks, social distanced, wiped everything down with sanitizer… the works.

We also got super lucky, because our Frontline Worker Design Giveaway Winner just happened to be in D.C., too. We installed both spaces over a crazy couple of days, and I’m so glad we did. Knowing that both of these families could enjoy their homes and lives in the middle of a global pandemic was 100% worth the effort. 

So, what did those efforts create for our Barnaby clients? Let’s start the tour...

Through the Front Door

modern traditional home entryway blue nook dining room rug runner staircase

Welcome to the Barnaby House. This is the view from the front door, and at a glance, you can see that it’s filled with warmth, patterns, and some tasteful color woven throughout. We added this long runner in khaki to visually elongate the home and add flow through the space. 

On the left, we have an entryway nook. On the right, we have their formal living room (not for the kiddos), which is connected to the dining room. And further back, you can just see a glimpse of their family room, which also leads to the kitchen. But let’s start with the nook...

Surprise Entryway Nook

modern traditional home blue accent nook modern teardrop pendants console accessories joy street design

Fun Fact: Our clients told us they didn’t want any bright color. Wait, what? I know. If you’ve seen our portfolio, you know that color is what we do, but clients voice their color fears more often than you would think. Between you and me, I think we attract clients who are either crazy for color or are a little hesitant about embracing color but trust us to make it look good. 

The latter is exactly what we did in this entryway nook, which was… drumroll... a surprise for our clients! Yup, they had no idea we were going to paint it teal, but they put their faith in our hands (paint brushes?) and it paid off. This accent color wakes the home up, makes it feel inviting, and is a happy treat for the eyes.

teal accent nook entryway modern teardrop pendants windows wood console table joy street design dc

In this entryway nook, we also added teardrop sconces and a wooden console with some traditional-style curves (more on that in a minute). They work together with the accessories to give the space approachable warmth and character. Final verdict: The family loves it!

Traditional Living Room & A Dose of Freshness

Before we step into the living room, there is another layer to the Barnaby clients’ requests that doesn’t fit the mold of our typical clients. Don’t fall off your seat, but… they’re traditionalists. And that’s okay! 

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that our mission is to create homes for joyful living, and I believe that a happy, self-aligned home is whatever you, or any of our clients, want it to be. They love furniture with traditional character and they wanted the home to feel lived-in and approachable, so that’s exactly what we gave them.

modern traditional living room geometric curtains blue sofa chairs upscale lounge joy street design dc

As a more formal and adult-only space, the Barnaby living room is where our clients imagined sitting with friends and colleagues, listening to music, and having a drink before or after dinner. Or both. (Don’t all parents need that!) We made it a conversation of neutrals and traditional character, with a few modern interjections to freshen things up, like these fun lamps, sleek end tables, and patterned curtains.

modern traditional living room geometric floral drapery abstract art powder blue sofa blue vase

Since this room sits directly across from our teal entry nook, we layered in touches of blue to bring the two spaces together. The multi-colored curtains and accent pillows unify all of the other hues in the space, adding interest and warmth in an unexpected way. And how great is this moody abstract painting? It just works.

Traditional Dining Room

traditional dining room with modern twist globe chandeliers cherry blossom wallpaper joy street design dc home

This super large dining room is by far the most traditional room we’ve ever designed. The traditional table (that extends to seat 10), chairs, and a sideboard set the tone of the room, along with cherry blossom wallpaper that feels perfect for D.C. Of course, the same color palette of neutrals, yellows, and blues is repeated here within the wallpaper, luxurious curtains, vases, and touches of blue in our clients’ artwork.

Because this room is so large, we chose to install two pendant lights instead of one. Rather than go with a traditional chandelier, we found these updated globe pendants for elegance that feels out-of-the-box. The modern mirror is another less-than-traditional touch that feels like it was born for this space.

A Hardworking Family Room

family room bold abstract art upholstered swivel chairs staircase colorful pillows joy street design dc

Just past the dining room and facing the entryway, we have a space that was made for the kids to have a good time — the family room. Using our clients’ artwork as a jumping off point, we pulled out some fun colors, like yellow, blue, teal, and dark rose. Not only are all of the rugs and chairs in this room totally kid-proof, but these two chairs swivel. What kid doesn’t love that?? Now, let’s zoom out and see the whole space...

family room kitchen design geometric drapery yellow pillows chairs spacious functional modern

Surprise — the family room opens up into the kitchen and the breakfast nook! This meant that the design would need to play well with both of those other spaces. We used yellow and blue in the kitchen and in the pattern of the built-in banquette, and again, another set of stunning, multi-colored curtains bring it all together. Over the banquette, we also added some transitional-style lighting and cane chairs to bridge modern and traditional design.

Which brings us to...

Spicing Up A White Kitchen

two tone kitchen white charcoal grey black island yellow bar stools island

If you know me, you know the worst thing a client can ask us for is an all-white kitchen. If that’s your thing, I completely understand, but we’re probably not the right team for you. However, in this case, the kitchen was already done and renovating was unnecessary. Spicing it up? Now that we can do. 

We put our heads together to come up with a way to add some personality into the space, and these yellow chairs in a funky traditional shape were the answer! 

We also incorporated more color in the countertop accessories, and added in these curvy pedants for a bit of flair. When seen together with the breakfast nook and family room, it feels full of personality that fits this happy family. Yes, even with the white cabinets. ;)

Last but not least, we have one more room to explore upstairs...

Soothing Principal Bedroom in Moody Amethyst

principal bedroom moody modern traditional comfortable drapery florals amethyst walls traditional character

Our clients’ principal bedroom is HUGE, and with the original walls in eggshell white, it felt far too bright and expansive to be cozy. Our clients were a little color shy, but we were able to convince them that some color would make the room feel softer and more comfortable without compromising space.

We went with this deep amethyst tone that contrasts perfectly with soft blues, neutral browns and beiges, and a pair of denim blue swivel chairs by the windows, where they can relax, read, or enjoy their morning coffee. 

vignette master bedroom amethyst walls teal lamp floral pillows joy street interior design dc home

Again, a mix of traditional furniture and curves pairs perfectly with clean lines and artwork for a room that feels traditional but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Now, this bedroom feels like less of a bright operating room and more of a restful haven — as bedrooms should be!

Well, we’ve reached the end of our tour. Whether you’re team modern or team traditional, this project is a great example of how we can make your home personal. 

If you’re not sure what your style preferences are just yet, that’s okay too. Browse some of our project Before & Afters here to see what inspires you. Or, book a call with our team, and we’ll personally help you discover your style and bring it to life in your home.

— Kelly

These might interest you too