By Charlotte Safavi | April 20, 2015 | Home & Real Estate
Up-and-coming design duo Alex Deringer and Courtney Cox of Ivy Lane Living are using luxe textiles to turn stately homes into regal spaces.
A halo chandelier plays off the gold metallic wallpaper and brings elegance to the dining room of this McLean residence.
A custom build is a surefire way to create one’s dream home, but even a fleeting glance at this sumptuous six-bedroom residence in McLean, Virginia, confirms that buyers can put an individual stamp on any home through design. “The homeowner wanted glamorous, luxurious wallpapers and textiles, and really cared about the quality of the work and the artisanship behind it,” says designer Alex Deringer.
The current vogue for using wall treatments to enhance and embellish interiors shows no sign of abating, as design and material options continue to multiply. “We love using wall treatments,” adds Deringer’s business partner, Courtney Cox, “whether wallpaper, hand-painted muslin, or applied fabric. Any house needs to have layers: It’s just another way of introducing pattern, color, and texture.”
For Deringer and Cox, the McLean project became an ideal showcase for their talent. Deringer, who attended the Corcoran College of Art and Design, and Cox, a former boutique owner, combined their creative forces in 2013 by starting a full-service interior design firm called Ivy Lane. Since then, the duo has spun off Ivy Lane Living and Ivy Lane Linens, a pair of lifestyle shops in Old Town Alexandria, specializing in luxe furnishings.
The home’s parlor features orange saffron silk curtains, patterned silk-linen chairs, and a painting (LEFT) by Hunt Slonem.
“What was most exciting about this job was that our client admitted wallpaper was key for her. It’s what inspires her—and in the end, it’s what inspired us,” continues Deringer.
The newly constructed house originally appealed to the homeowner, who lives there with her husband and two children, partly because it was a blank canvas. The family had relocated to McLean from Charlottesville and wanted to add their imprint to the home.
“Although it’s always been a luxury home, it was ultimately luxe builder-grade,” says Deringer, who retained some of the house’s original features in the redesign, including wide-plank, stained wood floors, marble countertops, and faux bois, distress finished ceilings.
Not only was the entire house painted a neutral white, but the foyer, parlor, and all the hallways were wrapped in five-feet-high wainscoting, leaving only three feet of drywall to paint or paper. For a homeowner who professes a passion for wallpaper, this had to change.
“We removed much of the woodwork and incorporated the rest into our design,” says Deringer.
The foyer was transformed first, setting the design tone and color palette. Flocked velvet wallpaper, with an organic geometric pattern, was selected in dark chocolate and champagne hues. “Using fabric as a wall covering is a great way to add depth and dimension in an unexpected way,” adds Cox. A sculptural, Dale Chihuly-style light fixture repeats the wallpaper’s motif, while imparting an airy lightness.
Wallpaper with a metallic sheen complements the wainscoting and faux bois ceiling in the master bath.
By contrast, the great room is wrapped in textured Schumacher grass cloth in a lighter neutral. More family-friendly materials are also used here for upholstery, such as vegan leather and indoor outdoor fabrics. As a rule of thumb, in high-usage spaces, the focus was kept on texture, which hides imperfections more easily, while adding interest. The halls are lined in a Phillip Jeffries woven silk, for example, with a stain-repellent finish.
“Often the wallpaper was picked first,” says Deringer of the overall design approach. “It then drove the concept of the room.”
In the parlor, Élitis pleated satin wallpaper continues the foyer’s rich colors, with a lively chevron pattern. Next came a pair of chairs upholstered in a patterned silk-linen blend, adding pops of orange and turquoise. Saffron silk curtains pool on the floor, and a colorful painting by Hunt Slonem unites the space.
“The dining room’s wallpaper has a more 3-D feel,” says Deringer. “It has these squares in different metallics: gold, rose-gold, silver. The halo chandelier and geometric sconces play off it.” The turquoise in the dining room rug’s raised motif and in the embroidered sheer linen panels connects back to the parlor.
When speaking of trends, Cox and Deringer clearly love metallics—anything that sparkles, shines, or shimmers. Deringer shares that larger-scale prints are also increasingly popular, as are murals, while Cox interjects that they are seeing more upholstered walls.
The home’s most exotic wallpaper is in the guest powder room. “We went high contrast, with a feathered wallpaper. It really makes the wall the feature,” says Deringer. “Boldness works so well in a small space. If your room is tiny, don’t swim uphill and paint it light: do something dramatic, dark, or reflective— embrace the scale and envelop it.”
“I think every house should have at least one room where the wall covering is the backbone, the focal point of the entire space,” adds Cox.
PhotograPhy by robert radifera; Production by charlotte Safavi
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