Recently, designer Birgitte Pearce faced her toughest client yet. “Myself,” she laughs. “My husband and I bought this wonderfully dilapidated 100 year old Dutch Colonial and decided to do a full gut renovation.” Birgitte is normally very collaborative with her clients, so this particular project was a challenge — she didn’t have the usual back and forth, and felt the design process lacked objectivity. She explains, “Good design is all about editing and one of the tools I use with my clients is coming up with a mission statement that everything coming into the house can be judged against. There are so many shiny objects out there and you need a way to edit them in a way that makes your space feel cohesive.”
Collaboration aside, the project turned out beautifully. Birgitte combined two places close to her heart to serve as inspiration — her home country of Denmark and Venice Beach, CA. “Danish modern meets casual coastal living,” she says. ” I wanted a house that reflected those places. A place that is beautiful but where you can also put your feet on the coffee table.” She ended up describing the aesthetic vision as Provence meets Danish farmhouse — channeling rustic elegance with some modern twists.
The first room you see when you enter the home is the parlor. The paneled walls were originally dark oak, but Birgitte painted them all white with a tint of gray inside the coffered ceiling boxes. “I must have thrown up 30 samples of different grays and none of them spoke to me. In the end I ended up with white walls throughout the house which feels sunny and warm and nods to Southern California where I spent most of my life,” she explains. She kept the whole space monochromatic, with layers of white and cream and a few punches of black. There’s a modern light fixture, and two Danish seascapes resting on an old marble table that Birgitte’s mom found at a garage sale. (One of the seascapes was made for her father, so it’s quite a sentimental vignette.)
The parlor offers views into the living room and beyond — into Birgitte’s studio which is a converted sun porch and painted in Benjamin Moore Polo Blue. Here, the color changes as the light shifts throughout the day. “It was important to keep a continuity through the spaces as they are so visually connected,” she says. “The living room has a bit more color, but it is still very subdued – grays and creams and hints of blush. And always pops of black which reminds me so much of Danish homes.” The formal dining room was converted into a family room, as Birgitte’s family of 3 would utilize the space more this way.
This kitchen is a big, open space that Birgitte designed for living in. She laughs, “Don’t we all end up living in our kitchens? So our dining room is in the kitchen, which is great when entertaining because everyone is here with me when I cook.” And even though she has that beautiful studio, it’s also where she finds herself working the most. “It’s a cliche, but the kitchen really is the heart of the home,” the designer reflects. “We built a giant banquette that we upholstered in a Perennials linen (so hard working) and this great drifted oak table surrounded by windows and light. I love working in this space, with the Sonos cranking out some great tunes and the Nespresso machine keeping me going.”
Finally, in the powder room, wallpaper by Dutch artist Ellie Cashman steals the show. “I love drama in a powder room,” Birgitte muses. “It’s a fun surprise.” Surprises are actually the hallmark of Birgitte’s design sensibility. She reflects, “There is so much great stuff available online these days, but it can also start to create a sameness. Rooms that look put together, right out of Pinterest, but lack those elements that make it personal. So I like to mix it up.” She utilizes resources like 1st Dibs, the annual antique market in Brimfield, and Ruby Beets in Sag Harbor. She also turns to CB2, Urban Electric, and Jayson Home. A perfect mix! “I believe that a great interior has to have soul. And that soul comes from incorporating a mix of elements,” she concludes.