An art lover’s 1940s Westwood home mixes cozy with contemporary
“I love modern art, Chinese porcelain, Arts and Crafts furniture, and a clean background to it all,” the homeowner says right up front. As a print sales representative, she travels around the country and brings back pieces she loves. But where to put them can be an issue. Her small home, built in the 1940s, can only stretch so far.
“I come from a small town in northern Missouri, and Westwood has that same small-town feel,” she says. “I bought this house thinking it was a starter home, but I’ve been here almost 20 years,” she says with a laugh.
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She and her interior designer, Steve Nuss, have figured out how to work her transitional style with touches of the graphic into a home where she can have a quiet dinner for two or a party for thirty. “It lives well for me,” she says.
The original textured plaster walls are painted a soft ivory, but the homeowner has updated just about everything else.
Working with a color palette of mainly antique red, Chinese porcelain blue and straw, the upholstered pieces provide the traditional coziness, while the art brings in the contemporary.
In the living room, family pieces such as the schoolroom clock have pride of place. A large tufted ottoman does triple duty as a footrest, a coffee table, and extra seating. She found an antique Chinese chest at a flea market and uses it to store her mother’s antique crystal. Above it hangs a contemporary collage the homeowner found at the Brookside Art Fair. A prairie landscape in oil by Kim Casebeer of Manhattan, Kansas, reminds the homeowner of her family roots.
She had the dining table specially made with its steel base and glass top to be narrower than a traditional table, but then she was stuck for chairs. That’s when Steve Nuss came to the rescue with black rattan chairs that fit the dimensions of the table perfectly. On one wall hangs her much-loved piece by a local artist who has now become a friend, Nina Irwin.
“I love how it is contemporary but looks like an antique Chinese landscape with a wash of color. Dreamy,” says the homeowner.
The small white kitchen has another wash of color in the marble countertop. White subway tile on the walls, crisp white cabinets, and a vaulted ceiling with a skylight bounce the light around.
The robin’s egg blue master bedroom and the guest bedroom papered in a muted Greek-key design are quieter versions of the bolder blue and straw in the public rooms. In the guest room, hand-colored framed prints of Mughal royalty from India dazzle in the afternoon light.
Stacks of art books, light-filled rooms, comfy places to curl up, and a sense of the past make this small space eminently livable for today.
Living Big in a Small Space
- For a cohesive look that flows, paint the walls ivory. “It bounces the light around,” he says.
- In the kitchen, “It was all about half-inches,” he says. “We moved every door opening and installed a pocket door. By vaulting the ceiling and adding a skylight to make the room taller, we also made the space feel bigger.”
- Have some furniture pieces you can see through, like the glass-topped table in the dining room. “That keeps your eye moving along,” says Nuss.
- Instead of random spacing, group art into a gallery wall, using similar frames.
- Keep window treatments simple and neutral. “The natural shades are textural without being jarring,” he says.
Steve Nuss, Ltd., Interiors
Chaney Painting, Inc.