I LIKE THINGS that have a little bit of tension,” said interior designer Heidi Caillier. This passion for clashes made her the ideal partner for Jacob Meyer and Margaret Lacy Meyer, a couple with disparate tastes who asked her to help mastermind a renovation of their five-bedroom Craftsman-inflected house in Seattle’s Seward Park neighborhood.
Ms. Lacy Meyer, a psychotherapist from Milwaukee, favors clean midcentury modern design and bold accents, coupled with an earthier West Coast palette. “I’m not a traditionalist,” she said. Her chemist husband, born in rural Gibson, La., is drawn to the dark wood and ornament seen in British décor or—closer to home—the 18th-century Georgian aesthetic that was popular in the American South. “He likes a lot going on,” said Ms. Lacy Meyer of her husband’s design preferences.
Ms. Caillier first created a base of smoky greens and creams, plenty of warm wood, brushed brass and nubbly natural textiles—elements that could engage either client’s taste. She next layered in traditional elements to meet Mr. Meyer’s love of intricacy halfway—but with a modern twist. The formality of the wainscoting in the living and dining rooms, for example, was undercut with a solid wash of an unorthodox shade, Farrow & Ball’s Red Earth. His wife approved.
A Better Look
In a Seattle living room, designer Heidi Caillier starts the blending scheme with a contemporary Nickey Kehoe sofa covered in fabric from French company Misia, its oversized pattern an update of a potentially fusty floral.
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In decorating other rooms, Ms. Caillier layered furniture and finishes from different eras. In the bedroom of one boy (the family includes three under age 8), whimsical contemporary wallpaper and a bright yellow side table help a heavy Victorian Eastlake bed, which might seem too stodgy for a child of 5, skew youthful. Here, a room-to-room look inside the designer’s playbook.
Ms. Caillier smattered Delft-like tiles into the backsplash as a modern take on a classic Dutch look. The hand-painted pieces, by BDDW, actually skew American, with imagery of such Western troublemakers as cowboys, hunters and grizzly bears. Bar stools with molded-walnut seats—very Eames-like—offset more-historic elements, like the Shaker-tinged cabinets. Roman and Williams Guild’s pendants straddle sensibilities: The shape’s a little midcentury, but the rich patina, ribbed collar and form of the glass don’t feel super-modern, said Ms. Caillier.
Even a modernist like Ms. Lacy Meyer can wax nostalgic. “I feel like this is my grandmother’s bathroom,” she said. The blush floor tile, a cement disguised as terra-cotta, and the wisp-thin rosewood spindle chair add a delicacy offset by the brutish eggplant-streaked stone. The marble “has that crusty Old World feel I wanted,” said Ms. Caillier. To keep the room modern, Ms. Caillier added in chunky but streamlined, slightly “masculine” medicine cabinets and light fixtures. She also exercised stone restraint. “It’s really tempting to do the marble on all the walls, but I think the key here is that we wrapped just the right side.”
Art of Darkness
By design, the yellow side table is the only bright note in a room dominated by inky wallpaper (Fôret Noire by Nathalie Lété for Domestic) and an antique bed. “People shy away from darkness [in a child’s room], but there is something very comforting about it; it feels cozy for a kid,” said Ms. Caillier. If the bossy buffalo plaid seems random, look again. “There’s a bit of red on the bird and the mushroom,” she said. “I wanted to pick a color that works with the wallpaper without making it too matchy matchy.” A carpet by Stark provides a neutral foil to the exuberant wallpaper.
Blended Family Room
While the individual elements in this basement playroom—glen plaid carpet, floral upholstery, an antique table, an admittedly grand avian wallpaper—toe the line of English tradition, taken together, they astound. “There’s something about pattern mixing—even people who think they aren’t going to love it are really drawn to it,” said Ms. Caillier. Plus, she needed the rest of the room to keep up with the wallpaper (Zeus by House of Hackney). “It’s so over the top, it needs strong elements to stand up to it.”
“I love a printed sofa. It makes a room,” said Ms. Caillier. But to make sure its floral motif asserted modernity, she chose a bold pattern that would leaven the traditional fussiness of a ruffled chair nearby—a “print large-scale enough to almost read as a solid” in moody Rousseau-jungle hues. Tufting, which can also seem fusty, is reserved for the undeniably hip leather arm chairs by Swedish midcentury designer Arne Norell. The tonal dissonance of the teal couch and olive seats also hits a contemporary note.
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