As a physician, Iffie Okoronkwo Aitkenhead knows that medicine often is “more of an art than science”. The same is true for decorating. Even when the bones are strong and the basic furnishings are in place, a home without charm feels flat. That was the problem Iffie and her husband Ben faced in their Connecticut, US, home. The rooms were freshly painted and outfitted with discount designer fabrics, lively artwork and furnishings that could stand up to their three young daughters. But something was missing. “Even with all those things,” Iffie says, “the house lacked a warm connection.”
Click here to view a slideshow of the Aitkenheads’ home
To find a cure, Iffie enlisted the help of a friend, designer Bartley Johnstone, who quickly determined that what the house needed was that “last layer” of colour, texture and comfort.
The first task was to marry the couple’s eclectic style, which includes English country furnishings (Ben is British), African-American art (Iffie is Nigerian) and Asian accents. To join these elements, Johnstone came up with a tight colour scheme of moss green and mustard yellow with hints of blue and red. Next, she softened the home’s surfaces with colourful quilts, striped seagrass rugs and striking throw pillows. Antique transferware plates, vintage vases and old hardcover books added a sense of age.
The house now has a more warm and welcoming feel, says Iffie. “I think sometimes people confuse filling the surfaces with being cluttered.” But without those details, she says, “a home doesn’t look lived in and loved.”
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