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The traditional brick house was designed by architect Thomas J. Ryan Jr. and built by Oxford Development.


Bohemian Rhapsody

By Tate Gunnerson

Photos by Werner Straube and Anthony Tahlier


Bold patterns, striking color and a rich stew of ethnic influences lie behind the double doors of this traditional residence on a leafy half-acre lot in Deerfield.

“This home has layers and interest that create a well-traveled look,” says interior designer Michelle Williams ( of the handsome five-bedroom gabled brick dwelling that she designed for a professional couple and their children. “My clients wanted a lovely family-friendly house with young, fresh decor,” Williams explains. “It’s somewhat traditional, but there’s an edge.”

The eclectic design scheme is established in the central foyer, a gallery-like space with light walls, understated Carrara marble flooring and an array of art pieces from the sizable collection that Williams helped her clients assemble. “Almost every room in the whole house is painted in the same shade,” Williams says. “The couple collects many different genres of art, including abstract, oil paintings and photography, and it all shows up really well against the white walls.”

The foyer is open to the colorful dining room, where Williams juxtaposed a modern dark-wood table with chairs covered in a red and black African-inspired fabric, floral draperies and a large brass Moroccan pendant chandelier that reflects off of the ceiling, which has been lacquered to the nth degree. “I wanted a ceiling finish so mirrored that they would be able to look up at the ceiling to check their hair,” Williams says with a smile. “It woke up the space a little bit without being too obvious.”

SOAK IT IN The dialogue between modern and antique influences carried into the master bathroom, where the hexagonal-shaped Carrara marble floor and wall tile from The Tile Shop in Deerfield inspired the shape of the ceiling.

A zebra hide rug, vintage polished brass accents and pops of chartreuse do the same for the dark-gray walls and sisal wall-to-wall carpeting that Williams selected for the intimate library located on the other side of the entry foyer. “I wanted this room to make a statement,” she says. “Chartreuse is a major color here, and it really creates that pop.”

Colorful accents also play a supporting role in the open living room, where plank walls and a simple honed granite fireplace hearth emphasize the informal feeling that jived with the owners’ personality. “Plank floors lend a room a younger, hipper feel,” Williams says. “They feel casual and not so heavy.”

The light walls provide a crisp backdrop for a mix of influences that include plush custom furnishings alongside African tables (painted white for a fresh take), midcentury Italian vases and a bone-inlaid bookcase—one of the many Moroccan elements throughout the interior. “We wanted a chic, boho kind of feel,” the wife says. “It allows us to mix colors and patterns very easily.”

The wood planks have been placed on the lofted ceiling in the spacious open kitchen, where they complement the painted brick accent wall and antique Parisian chandeliers, and create a sense of history. “I almost screamed when I saw those lights, and emailed my clients a picture right away,” Williams says, pointing to the juxtaposition of the industrial metal fixtures over the windows. “This whole project is a push-pull between glam and industrial influences, and that elevated the design. There is a yin-yang between feminine and masculine influences.”

DRAMA QUEEN Williams made the library a focal point by painting the moldings and custom bookshelves the same dark color as the walls.

Indeed, black-painted windows frame the view of the exterior and provide a sharp contrast to the white subway-tile walls and the custom white and gray cabinetry, while Lucite stools and clear dining chairs add a modern touch. “I liked the combination of the modern chairs with the old wood table and the antique chandeliers,” Williams explains. “It feels fresh and unexpected.”

The open layout and double islands come in especially useful when the couple hosts friends and family for parties and holidays. “Both of our families live in town, so we host a lot of holidays,” the wife says, noting that they had dozens for Thanksgiving, and there was plenty of room for everybody. “We worked really well with the entire team, and Michelle made the entire process fun. We were very appreciative that we were able to do this.”