Text by Hannah Nance
A busy young family with three kids and two dogs may not seem like the ideal clients for an elegant French-style home, but interior designer Jenny Taylor of August Taylor Design blended beauty and practicality to create a home that this family could grow into without fear of mess or mayhem.
Although their Dutch Colonial home was newly constructed by architect Craig Stillwell and builder Fine Structures, the homeowners had actually lived in the location for years before deciding to construct their new one. “Their home was in an amazing location, but it no longer fit their needs,” Jenny explains. “So, they tore it down and started from scratch.” Initially, the couple planned to do the bulk of the design themselves, but as construction got underway, they became overwhelmed with the number of selections they needed to make. After working with Jenny for just a few weeks, the homeowners asked her to take the lead on the project.
Jenny found most of the inspiration for her sophisticated design from her clients’ personalities. In fact, she describes the home as “timeless, classic, quiet, and graceful—just like the homeowners.” While the couple aspired to have a traditionally elegant home that would showcase their plethora of family antiques, they also needed an interior style that would withstand their young children and pets. To achieve this, Jenny alternated high- and low-end pieces, balancing heirloom antiques with flea market finds. She also incorporated plenty of texture into the neutral color palette to hide scratches and stains.
The challenge to the design was one that most people would consider a blessing—the family’s abundance of antique pieces passed down through generations. “It definitely took me a little bit of time to wrap my head around how many antiques they had and how I was going to create a home that didn’t feel too stuffy or dark,” Jenny recalls. “It’s rare to have a client at this young age who has such a vast collection of fine pieces, but although this was a hurdle at first, it ended up being the driving force for every space in the home.”
Fittingly, it’s those family heirlooms that give the space the elegant feel that the homeowners desired. In the dining room, the gilded Louis Philippe-style mirror adds a chic touch to the traditional Chippendale dining room table ensemble. To give the room an updated feel, Jenny recovered the chairs in a faux-python fabric and introduced a neutral rug and beaded chandelier. “I was constantly balancing fabric selections, art, wall coverings, and textures to make sure we had a contrast of old and new,” Jenny says.
This balance continues in the formal living room. The space is grounded by an antique secretary and a commode with Jane Timberlake Cooper plaster art hanging above, which is one of Jenny’s favorite “moments” in the home thanks to the contrast of old and new. “I love adding plaster to add a touch of modern to a traditional space,” she says. The two sofas feature modern white linen coverings, giving the room a casual style overall when paired with the two ottomans, glass coffee table, and neutral chevron rug.
In the kitchen, Jenny’s design comes to life with welcoming, neutral style with hints of the elegance the homeowners love in the form of chinoiserie pieces and a gorgeous wood breakfast table. Balanced with on-trend upholstered bamboo dining chairs and barstools, the space is both practical and pretty, which is exactly why it’s the heart of the home for this busy family.