A note from our editors: 

It’s time for one of our favorite traditions! Each year, we spend the holidays reflecting on the stories and articles you loved most. It’s the “Best of Rue” and this is one of 2019’s top stories. Enjoy!

Previously published on May 7, 2019:

When a young couple moved from Los Angeles to Westport, Connecticut they had found a spec house with tons of potential. It had a few nondescript features common in new-builds and lacked all of the couple’s casual, California style that they were looking for in their new space. It had an open floor plan that felt expansive rather than inviting. They decided to hire interior designer, Kerri Rosenthal to transform it into the more modern, personalized, and laidback home they had envisioned.

“They came to me asking to remove the ‘spec’ from the home,” Kerri shared. “I pulled out the built-ins in the family room, designed an entirely new fireplace surround by Grace Design Build with bookcases on each side using a lighter toned oak and then stained the oak fireplace surround with a deep char finish.” Adding architectural beams to many of the home’s rooms, including the dining room, master bedroom, and family room, she was able to give the spacious rooms warmth and character. She used the same style of deep char finish for the kitchen island, which was one of the many wood features carefully stained by the local female duo Les Deux Femmes.

On the aesthetic direction, the homeowners were clear: “they wanted the home to be tonal, with natural fibers and texture,” Kerri said. “The artwork had to be true to them, so I curated a collection of both art and photography that reflected their vision. Although people may think of my art as super colorful, I also love the challenge of creating and painting in a neutral palette.  This is one of my favorites that they chose, named ‘January Sky.'” For the upholstery, she chose heavy Belgian linen and chunky wool rugs by Tibetano that communicate the natural casual vibe of the design concept. “The home on the outside is classic Connecticut – and we then added a good amount of casual California to the mix but not too much that it feels out of place or balance,” Kerri explained. “The second you walk in you feel that you are walking into something different. It’s casual but still elegant, it’s organic but not too trendy. It’s warm but still edgy.”

As for the process of going through a renovation, the designer often explains to clients the emotional rollercoaster that it can be: “The project took about 1 year,” she said, “there are so many ups and downs when you are designing a home that involves construction. I always let my clients know that in the beginning and sometimes, mid-project, you may get a bit insecure. But I do what it takes to give my clients their dream home and my clients are completely in-love and so happy with their new home.”