House of Style
Photograph by: Hülya Kolabas
A single conversation with homeowner Kelly Welty reveals an affably ferocious “get it done” attitude. So it’s no surprise that in the roughly two years since she moved into a large clapboard house on New Canaan’s New York border, she has taken to the mission of interior decorating with irrepressible gusto.
“We wanted a place to go to get away from it all,” says Kelly, who moved into the house in the spring of 2006 with her husband and their three children upon returning from eight years in London.
Evoking the taupe-gray shade of elephant hide—with aubergine shutters—the colonial is ensconced on just over five wooded acres with a fishing pond stocked with bass and sunnies. Built by Girouard Associates of New Canaan and designed by architects Robert Fish & Associates of Farmington, it features 6,500 square feet of living space, a finished basement and a third-floor media room. “It’s a place to come back to that’s comfortable, where we can unwind after fishing on the pond or hiking in the woods,” she says, “and it’s got excellent hiding places for hide and seek.”
Early on, Kelly met and hired interior designer Melissa Lindsay, a partner in Pimlico, the home furnishings boutique on New Canaan’s Elm Street, to aid her in her cause.
“I’m such a control freak when it comes to my ideas, so I knew I didn’t want to hand over complete control or spend the money [on the full scope of services],” she says. Instead, she opted to do a lot of her own research and shopping.
And Melissa, a creative force with a gentle manner, proved an ideal fit. “We just kind of clicked,” Kelly says. “She seemed to understand what I was going for, and she was able to be a bouncing board and to lend a fresh set of trained eyes.”
According to Melissa, Kelly’s decorating debut is worthy of rave reviews. “Kelly was very successful at making her home a strong impression of herself, her family, her personality,” Melissa says. “It really represents her, and you can see how happy she is in the environment.”
Melissa’s trade secret, she says, is “getting inside [her] clients’ heads and understanding what makes them feel comfortable, excited, soothed.” Then she says, she works within those parameters to achieve the look they want. ”Kelly was not afraid to take risks,” she says. “I never had to pull her along; she was ready and willing to go.”
Color and texture were paramount to the decorating duo’s program, and the result is a strikingly glamorous interior. The sweet spot of the glamour pad, if you will, is no doubt the formal living room, where a luxuriantly longhair rug delights barefoot inhabitants, a glittering metallic adorns the walls—and camouflages the chair rail to avoid a stripe around the room’s midriff—and pale ivory silk draperies feature a fringe of smoky gray and faux amethyst beads. “Without the rug, the room would have a totally different feel,” Melissa says.
A low-slung, nailhead-studded sofa from Louise Bradley and a glass and metal coffee table are two of the handful of items Kelly bought in London and felt strongly about retaining as a reminder of her expat life. A large, multimedia, highly textured portrait by Jamali, Kelly’s favorite artist, regards the room, much of the rest of which is furnished by Pimlico, including gold dust glass lamps; a mirrored buffet with wood detail like fretwork; a silver-leafed library chair; a silver sunburst mirror; and a gold leather lumbar pillow. A pair of tufted poufs in a deep eggplant sit near the fireplace. “It’s important to feel alive, to be surrounded by color and liveliness,” Kelly says. “It brightens my day every time I walk past the living room. You can’t always go with the conservative straight path.”
References to a distant Indochine empire dominate the dining room where a gold and burgundy paper called “Chinese Dragon” by Osborne & Little covers the walls, and a large Buddha presides over a sideboard niche. The ceiling is finished in handmade gilt paper that reflects the light of a statement-making chandelier by Richard Ray with jaunty angles in glass and iron. An ebonized oval table is paired with chairs covered in a light ultra-suede. Around the corner, a small bar features walls painted in a deep plum and a gilded dolphin sphinx mirror whose seductive curves make a counterpoint to the jagged edges of the chandelier.
London made its way into the open kitchen–family– room as well. There is the square Travertine table from Harrod’s and benches upholstered in a cocoa-colored linen by Louise Bradley. Through her vendors, Melissa found a rustic wooden chandelier to install above the table, while she found Abydos benches, a gold driftwood lamp and a mirrored Parson’s side table, among other touches, to enhance the family room.
Upstairs, the master bedroom possesses a masculine vibe with a feminine twist. The walls are bathed in the hue of a dusty eggplant, with moldings in a sumptuous French vanilla. There are a glass ball and acrylic lamp, a silver-plated brass lotus, an eglomise-and-limed oak panel mirror, all from Pimlico and a headboard by Robb & Stucky. “We brought the outside in,” said Welty, referring to the aubergine and taupe-gray of the exterior. The bedroom colors relate to those in her dressing room, a feminine aerie where an eye-catching wallpaper from Osborne & Little, “Sakura Asuka” features bold red flowers on a burgundy ground. A mirrored Art Deco dressing table is paired with a silver leaf armchair (Pimlico, of course), and accessorized with antique mercury decanters and a vintage silver pedestal bowl.
Along the way, though, Welty admits, she made some mistakes, including the large sectional sofa she purchased for the family room that wound up in the media room. But from those mistakes she learned how important it is to “live in a space and take your time.”
“Melissa taught me to slow down and take a look,” she says. And it helped that when she veered off course, she had a well-connected shop owner at the ready with a cache of options. ”One of the luxuries about having both a design service and a retail store is the hand-in-hand aspect of it, that so easily you can take objects from the store into the client’s house,” Melissa notes.
So it seems, they shared the perfect partnership.
“Just give me a task and I’ll go accomplish it,” Kelly says.
Girouard Associates, New Canaan, 203-972-6580; girouardassociates.com
Robert Fish & Associates, Farmington, 860-674-1016