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A Cape-Style Home Decorated with Classic Color and Pattern

Designer Brian Paquette reinvigorates a family retreat with a red, white, and blue palette and pattern-on-pattern style

Written by Jenny Bradley Pfeffer
  • Photography by Harris Kenjar

    Growing up in Newport, Rhode Island, Brian Paquette developed a penchant for maximalism at a young age.

    “Newport is equal parts ridiculously chic and functional,” Paquette says. “We’re talking sisal rugs paired with Quadrille -slipcovers and rattan chairs. All of that inspired me.”

    As an interior designer, Paquette’s adoration of decorators such as Jacques Grange, Markham Roberts, and Bunny Williams is deeply rooted. But today, based in Seattle, he serves clients whose design briefs lean more toward clean-lined than pattern-on-pattern. His portfolio alludes little to his love of traditional interiors.

    Perhaps the aesthetic stars aligned when a charming Cape-style home—complete with shingles, white trim, and a pedigree—came knocking. Located on Whidbey Island, the home has been a summer retreat for the same family since the 1950s and recently passed from mother to daughter. Having fond memories of the home’s utterly traditional decor but knowing that it needed an update, she reached out to Paquette. Her only stipulations: a plenitude of ticking and a red, white, and blue palette reminiscent of her childhood retreat.


    A paisley fabric from Peter Dunham Textiles punctuates a wide striped wallpaper from Ralph Lauren and a more delicate ticking fabric on the Lawson Fenning banquette.



  • Photography by Harris Kenjar

    Respecting his client’s very specific requests—neither of which had previously been part of his design repertoire—Paquette went back to his Newport roots and channeled his inner Sister Parish.

    Proving he has maximalist mettle beneath his modern veneer, Paquette paid homage to the home’s thoroughly traditional design while giving it the slightest nudge into modern day. Neutrals and solids were nixed in favor of floral prints paired with paisleys. Trims and tufting detoured his usual clean lines.

    “The process was at once comfortable and uncomfortable,” the designer says. “There were many firsts for me in this house. I used my first-ever floral print here, my first custom lampshade.”


    Outdoor furniture from Serena & Lily acts as a perfect playmate to indoor dining pieces.

  • Photography by Harris Kenjar

    These firsts, along with classic forms—club chairs, a whitewashed china cabinet, and a button-tufted chaise upholstered in ruby red—are deftly fused with unexpected pieces such as a Giacometti-esque cocktail table, contemporary fabric on the club chairs, and Henri Matisse prints found in Paris. An overall mixed-and-matched, accumulated-over-time aesthetic fills the living room.


    A tufted chaise from Hollywood at Home and a whitewashed cabinet with a blue-painted interior create a cozy corner.


  • Photography by Harris Kenjar

    In a corner next to French doors that open to a wraparound deck, a chest of drawers has made its home here for generations. Chock-full of family photos and mementos, it serenely stands sentinel, paired with a fresh take on a Shaker-style chair, stained blue. Above it hangs a piece of outsider art (another longtime resident of the house) over a more contemporary painting by Serena Dugan.


    A modern take on a Shaker-style chair from O&G Studio pairs with a vintage chest used to store family memorabilia.

  • Photography by Harris Kenjar

    A menagerie of textiles feels simultaneously matched and mismatched. Vintage red ticking on pillows coltishly contrasts more abstract fabric on club chairs (although its palette is classic blue and white). Vintage textiles—a blue-and-white checkerboard and a red calico print—form leisurely layers that are seemingly haphazard yet perfectly planned.

    “The rules were thrown out,” Paquette says. “This is supposed to look like a collected calamity that’s not overly decorated.”


    Designer Brian Paquette incorporated a red, white, and blue palette and a heady mix of patterns. The effect is a space that feels familiar for his client while giving a fresh perspective to the classic scheme. A red lacquer shade adds a contemporary bent to a white Christopher Spitzmiller lamp.

  • Photography by Harris Kenjar

    With a scheme that encapsulates summer, the eat-in kitchen features wide awning stripes that are equally bright-and-airy and theatrical. Cabinets in a blue as saturated as the July night sky pop against marble countertops and a white tile backsplash. Gold fixtures and hardware add starlike sparkle.

    An upholstered banquette wears a daintier version of the blue and white stripes on the walls. Paired with red paisley shades, a walnut trestle table, rush-weave chairs, and blue-and-white spatterware, the casually graceful space signals Paquette’s beloved Rhode Island style and Whidbey Island’s low-key nature—as befitting a feast of New England clam chowder as a morning cup of Seattle’s finest cold brew.

    “The space is a mix of formal and relaxed,” he says. “The ticking is outdoor fabric and allows for sand on your feet while eating your bowl of cereal.”


    Brass hardware and fixtures from Waterworks, textural white backsplash tiles from Ann Sacks, and marble countertops add polished contrast to blue-painted cabinets. A blue-and-white print fabric from Lee Jofa used on the windows softens the room’s hard lines.

  • Photography by Harris Kenjar

    Similarly polished and inviting, the bedrooms are studies in the power of pattern. In the master, a dramatically delicate floral fabric swathes a headboard that stretches from wall to wall, interrupted only by a dresser finished with lacquered grass cloth and brass pulls. Ticking with a tape trim adorns windows—relaxed and traditional to the final detail.

    “It was so fun to work on a traditional project,” Paquette says. “It transformed me. Now all I want is trim everything, faux bois everywhere. I’ve yearned for this since I was a kid.”


    Paquette chose a luxurious botanical print from Soane Britain for the headboard. The lamp from Bunny Williams Home offers a sculptural focal point.