Text by Bethany Adams
Leslie and Michael O’Kelley always dreamed of building their own home from the ground up. An interior designer and an architect respectively, the two finally realized their dream in 2016 when they began work on a new home in their Alabama community of Mt Laurel.
The deep green of the home’s exterior is a nod to the early days of the town when an emphasis on the area’s natural beauty meant that homeowners were required to choose nature-inspired tones. “And my husband being the town architect, he really wanted to keep to the true theme of Mt Laurel,” Leslie says. Inside, the rich, earthy tones give way to a palette of bright whites and intentional pops of vibrant color. Interspersed with contemporary lines and touches of retro style, antique pieces repurposed by Michael’s stepmother and others inherited from his grandparents add just the right amount of weathered charm to the mix. “We tend to keep things very simple,” Leslie says of their decorating style.
But it’s the unparalleled attention to architectural and textural detail that really elevates this home’s style. Touches like whitewashed wooden planking over the kitchen island help balance the simplistic style that the O’Kelleys love. “When you go in that [simplified] direction . . . you have to really pay attention to the details,” Leslie says. “When you don’t, your house ends up missing something.”
Mirroring the architectural details found in the ceiling, the kitchen’s cozy banquette features a natural wood finish that matches elements on the range hood and the mantel in the living room, adding a warm touch and a sense of cohesion to the open floor plan.
The natural, timeless design choices are carried into the master bedroom, where the white walls are accented by sliding doors painted navy blue, a shade that Leslie felt would remain beautiful and versatile for many years. “I felt like it’s a pretty traditional color, so it wasn’t
something that was going to get dated quickly,” she says.
The headboard was made by Michael’s mother and painted gray to match the room’s ceiling, which ties in to the color of the cabinets in the master bath. A favorite feature of Leslie’s, decorative tile backs the soaking tub and contrasts with the marble that covers the rest of the room.
When it came to designing the rooms for their three daughters, Leslie wanted the girls to be part of the process. “All of my children got to pick the color of paint on the wall—within reason,” she jokes. “They all got to choose to some degree how their room was going to look so they could make it for them.” Ranging from retro to bohemian to classic pink, the bedrooms feature glimpses into the girls’ personalities while still exhibiting the seamless blend of styles seen throughout the rest of the home.