Designed by Wendy Berry Designed by Wendy Berry
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Beige. That’s how Wendy Berry would describe this Hunting Valley house when she first saw it. It lacked architectural details and its bland appearance was a stark contrast to the lively personality of the would-be homeowner. 

Before buying the house in 2016, her client consulted Berry, owner and principal designer of W Design, to ensure she could bring some character to the residence. 

The French country-style residence had good bones though: tall ceilings, hardwood floors and large rooms. Berry was confident she could bring the inside to life. Today, the home blends traditional New England style with plenty of personality, spread throughout by way of colorful art, cozy textures and new architectural elements such as wainscotting and tongue-and-groove wood ceilings. 

Berry had worked with the client before to design her residences in Naples, Florida and Shaker Heights. She drew inspiration from sunnier environments using traditional French blues to serve as a transition into her Hunting Valley home.

“It’s a little gray in Cleveland,” says Berry. “So she didn’t want to just have gray. She wanted a little bit of color that made her feel like she was somewhere sunny.”

They chose a custom rug for the great room that incorporated blue, as well as warm brown and shades of teal. It became the springboard for the home’s color scheme. 

To add interest, variations of those colors were layered through the rest of the room via different textures: teal accent pillows in a buttery velvet, a 72-inch oil painting depicting a watery scene, a sandy-colored couch in a nubby linen, and a pop of teal in the overhead brass light fixture. Simple white vases, neutral grass cloth wallpaper and cream drapes provide a rest for the eyes and complement the dark stain Berry chose for the hardwood floors. 

“It’s a really cool combination of textures,” says Berry. “When you look at the whole design, it’s really three colors: the brown, the cream and the blue-green. But there’s so many different layers of those colors.”

The color scheme flows into the adjacent rooms. Blue upholstered chairs sit in the dining room, against walls painted in Sherwin-Williams’ Repose Gray.  

The rear hallway introduces a fourth color: tangerine, which is featured in accent pillows on a bench, a custom-made window valance and a table lamp, before appearing in paintings in an adjacent foyer and in the den. 

The blue-green hues of the living room show up in the powder room, which features subtle shades in its bold wallpaper paired with dark-chocolate painted cabinets. Similarly, an olive green decorates the walls in a warm-toned, cozy basement media room. The serene master bedroom gets a healthy dose of watery blue-grays thanks to Benjamin Moore’s Silver Song. 

This playful use of color and texture brought a blank slate of a home into vibrant life, to the delight of the client, says Berry. 

“It’s calm, but happy, with a little bit of whimsy,” she says. “It’s everything that she didn’t know she wanted until she saw it.”

Touching Base

Don’t be afraid to layer in different materials to create a rich, interesting atmosphere. Here’s how to make it work for you.

Use a Variety of Textiles.

Berry recommends mixing things up by using different fabrics in the same color family. “Green in a nubby fabric and velvet, for example,” she says. “So even though you’re in the same color tone, changing texture makes for a rich and eclectic design that has layers.”

Add Texture to Unlikely Places.

Try adding some interest to your walls or ceiling — think grass cloth wallcoverings. “It gives the walls some dimension so they’re not just that flat drywall,” says Berry. “Or try doing a tongue-and-groove on the ceiling. Although still painted white, it stands out from white walls.” Crown molding and wainscotting can also be added for extra layers.

Accent with Metal and Mirrors.

Use different colors of metal or mirrors with your textiles and wood. “Mixing different wood tones — say a light wood and a dark wood — creates contrast,” Berry says. “Juxtaposing a natural wood with a layer of metal or mirror feels eclectic and unconventional.”

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