A design aficionado downsizes to a new home saturated with color.
Wanda King could be easily considered as home-schooled. That's schooled at home and about home. This Southerner's favorite subject is design, and--unlike many students who require a bit of coaxing to study--Wanda can't wait to hit the books. Her self-created "curriculum" has led her and husband Alan to move every five years of their 45-year union ("just because I love houses and want to decorate them," she says). The moves have been to dwellings where she could put the design knowledge she has accumulated into practice.
Three years ago, when Wanda and Alan made the decision to downsize from their Richmond, Virginia, home near the James River, they once again registered for another year of design assignments. And for the first time, they built a house instead of renovating one. A beautiful site overlooking two ponds in a Richmond neighborhood dotted with only 26 homes is where they decided to complete their visual thesis.
"We have a good sense of what we like and what we don't," says Wanda, "but we're always ready to learn. I don't want to just see the process, I want to learn it so I can clearly articulate what I want."
Wanda and Alan dutifully completed their homework before signing the contracts. Their approach to creating a new abode was supplemented by design magazines, Internet finds, plus a talented and experienced team of professionals who helped them turn their dreams into reality.
Richmond designer Anne Page has encouraged Wanda and Alan's design skills for years. She's styled interiors for three of their other homes and has influenced Wanda's evolving color sensibilities. A trained artist, Page had a goal in this latest home of developing a design that would serve as a 3-D biography of the couple, showing their interests, insights, tastes, and values.
With a happy color-and-pattern scheme as the foundation, the designer first selected an array of dynamic wallpapers, then tackled the entryway with gusto. "Since the plan was for the interiors to be drenched in intense, saturated colors, the spaces needed to work together like a symphony," says Page. "Many designers choose the rug first, but I wanted to start with wall patterns to seamlessly stream from one space to the next."
The enthusiastic entry hall has a bright yellow floral-and-bird pattern that cheerfully climbs the walls, establishing the palette for the public spaces. If there was ever any question about whether color would fade in adjoining rooms, the answer is immediately supplied by a living room that puts an exclamation point on the hue-happy entry.
Using a green rug with a trellis motif to cover and ground the living room, Page illustrated not only her expertise in color but also a geometry lesson. Spirited fabrics show up in pairs--on facing sofas in front of the fireplace, in stripes on armchairs flanking a round occasional table, and on floral drapery panels that dress sets of French doors.
Despite the formal elements of the dining room, with its crystal chandelier, mahogany table-and-chair ensemble, heavy millwork, and rich rust-and-gold walls, the area doesn't come off as stuffy or serious. A playful checked material in yellow and white takes the formality of a dressy panel-and-swag window treatment down a notch.
When they want to relax, the Kings gravitate to a cozy family room and kitchen. There, a blue-and-white palette rules, with fruit-and-vegetable-adorned tiles adding interest to a backsplash framed by symmetrical islands and cabinetry. Taupe toile on the wall sets the restful mood of the family room, along with comfortable furnishings situated around a fireplace.
For Wanda, her new home earns an A+ after many semesters in search of all the right design answers. "This house has my and Alan's names written all over it," she says. "I love our home because it's so solid and comfortable. It just feels good."
Photography: Gordon Beall
Produced by Eileen A. Deymier
Architectural design: J. Charles Burton, Burton Wilcox & Gorman, 10571 Telegraph Rd., #120, Glen Allen, VA 23059; 804/266-2161.
Interior design: Anne Page, Cachet Ltd., 101 Pepper Ave., Richmond, VA 23226; 804/285-0550.
Kitchen and bath design: Marvin Daniels, KDW Home, 7157 Staples Mill Rd., Richmond, VA 23228; 877/262-0066, kdwhome.com.
Builder: Leitch Lancaster; construction manager, Eric Ward, Lancaster Corp., 804/784-9898, lancastercorp.net.
Landscape design: William H. Spell (deceased).
Landscaping: Sneed's Nursery & Garden Center, 804/320-7798, sneedsnursery.com.
Wanda and Alan with Millie, their Labrador retriever.
Wanda and Alan King enjoy entertaining, and their spacious dining room is often comfortably filled with friends and family, including six grandchildren.
Outdoor furniture covered in a snappy coral fabric echoes the colors of Wanda's flowers.
Architectural designer J. Charles Burton designed the Kings' stone home.
A runner in red with gold accents ascends the staircase and coordinates with the fabric used for window dressings.
The kitchen breakfast area is casually classic, with walls covered in blue-and-white toile. Buffalo plaid at the windows frames the streams of sunlight that pour through the glass. Around the table, chairs are cushioned with a playful material in blue. A painted yellow corner cabinet houses Wanda's collection of blue-and-white ceramics.
The all-white kitchen allows patterns on the backsplash, windows, rug, and dishes in the lighted islands to show clearly.
In the middle of the family room, a scallop-shaped, lidded ottoman offers a good spot for storing and playing board games.
A peaceful refuge for Wanda and Alan, the master suite is colorful but more restrained than the home's public spaces. A pale green background offers a serene setting for the bed canopy and the floral fabric used for window treatments.
Overnight visitors at the King home are treated to a peaceful environment in the guest room, where there is a springlike mix of patterns. The Cowtan & Tout toile wallpaper provides a complementary backdrop to tufted slipper chairs covered in plaid from Scalamandré and a table skirt from Brunschwig & Fils.
The restful palette of the bedroom extends to the master bathroom, where white-and-green sheers gracefully hang from an arched window. Cabinetry and a vanity painted a soothing pale green create a relaxing spot to prepare for a hectic day ahead.
Colorful details give this home pizzazz.
Yellow tulips brighten the room.
Painted tile makes the kitchen cheery.
Blue and white, the ever-classic combination.
An inviting guest room.
An ideal setting for a light meal or card game.