Last week we featured a West Coast Victorian where many of the original Victorian details
had been too damaged to repair or had been ripped out in prior renovations. Today we have an East Coast Victorian to show you. While many of its original details were preserved, the house was very dark and not at all family friendly. Interior designer and color consultant Abbey Koplovitz rose to the challenge of preserving historic details while modernizing the home to meet the family's needs and to lighten things up. Lucky for us, Abbey
is here to give us a guided tour through the changes she made to the home.
Hi Abbey! Thanks so much for taking us on a tour of this house today! Please tell us a bit about the clients - is it a family? If so, how many kids to they have?
This house was renovated for a family of four: Two Kids, Husband works from home, Wife is a Dermatologist.
How did this affect your approach to the design?
Everything we did was family-friendly. Young boys can be tough on furniture, so color choices, fabric selection, durability of products... everything was
chosen with this in mind. We had EVERYTHING professionally stain treated.
You've created a kitchen that is truly the heart of the home. How did you do this? And on a side note, where did you get those barstools for the kitchen island (our readers have been asking about them!)?
The barstools are from Palacek. I love them too!
The kitchen had to be completely retooled from an outdated, narrow and dark galley kitchen to a room where everyone could gather. The first thing that
the architect and I did was reconfigure the space: We considered the client's needs but also what the actual space would allow: we re-worked window placement, and determined rough work flow for the room: where the fridge would go, where the stove and island could be. We had to bump out one exterior
wall to fit in a built-in window seat AND have enough room to walk by. Clear passage is really important to me.
Obviously for "This Old House" you respected the Victorian-era design. How were you able to add modern comforts and still respect the history of the house?
You start with the existing architecture. The client loved the Victorian details of the home, so we were not about to rip them all out. But we were not interested in doing a period home with period furniture
In this scenario, one thing I always do is look to existing conditions:
molding sizes, proportions of windows, style of windows and doors and keep that consistent in a new part of a traditional home. Skimpy window casings
in the kitchen simply wouldn't work with the substantial trim everywhere else in the house.
The front of the house has a grand staircase with original, oak millwork. It's dramatic and stunning. In the front rooms, we kept all the original wood work dark, but to shift to the light trim in kitchen and mudroom in the back of the home, we created a transition room. In the family room
, we painted the wainscoting and trim white while maintaining the fireplace in its original, dark wood. This, along with a color palette that flowed through the house allowed us to transition nicely from dark front of the house to light back of the house with ease and without feeling all jumpy. A home should feel comfortable, not jarring so sometimes you need some time to transition, like an intermission in a play. This middle room, the family room, served its purpose well.
What were some of the original features you saved? How did you highlight them/integrate them into the design?
We saved all the original features. The stained glass window at the top of the stair and the original fire place surround in the family room were the inspiration for the color palette for the whole home
What were some of the pieces that your clients bought in that you needed to integrate into the design?
The client had a substantial clock collection but I limited her to one per room. That was our running joke -- I didn't want people to think she was a "crazy clock lady." The good news is that she has a big house, so we found plenty of options for placement. She also had a wonderful antique armoire, some French dressers that we peppered throughout the home. Other really great pieces are her antique French sconces showcased in the dining room and an amazing French turquoise glass fixture over the kitchen table
On a project like this, what should people splurge on, and where can they save a few dollars?
I believe that you can never go wrong with buying quality pieces that last. Buy the highest quality items you can afford. With few exceptions, for example licensed products, you really do get what you pay for in home furnishings. Rather than skimping and splurging, do things slowly and save until you can afford what you like. Inferior products don't last and end up in a landfill.
That being said, one area where you can get quality at a great price is lighting. You can get some wonderful, affordable lighting
, especially in secondary spaces like hallways, extra bathrooms and kids rooms.
Abbey, please tell everyone a bit about your career path. How did you get into color consulting and interior design? What aspects of it are you especially passionate about?
I went to art school but ended up getting a Masters degree in Education and teaching elementary school out of college. I was Ms. Koplovitz, your 4th grade teacher. After about 6 years in the classroom, I moved into materials development and worked on internet and CD products for the elementary school market, mostly math and science stuff for publishing companies. With the dot com bust and a health crisis, I realized I wanted to work for myself, so after some career counseling and soul-searching decided to be a color consultant. Little by little my clients asked for more from me, so I took some classes in things that I didn't know how to do, read everything I could get my hands on about design. I am somewhat self-taught, but not entirely. Everything that I have done to date kind of came full circle in my move to interior design. I am an artist by training. My business skills from my publishing days taught me a lot about project management and problem-solving and deadlines. Teaching? If you can handle
a kid throwing things in a classroom and get him to calm down and the class back on track, ready to learn, you can handle just about anything, including working with contractors, clients, trades people and architects who all have different agendas and personalities. Believe it or not, only part of what I do in my work is design. The majority is about business and people and solving problems.
I feel really lucky that I love what I do. Color really excites me. I am a fabric fanatic, but mostly I just love making people's lives a little better by making their homes beautiful. I kind of love all of it, even when things go wrong.
Abbey, thanks again for visiting with us today. Without further ado, come on in and take a tour with us!