Designer Fran Morris Infuses Her Traditional-Style Cottage with Autumn Charm

A back porch living area with a stone fireplace.
Photography by John O’Hagan, Styling by Kim Chiselko

Text by Bethany Adams

When Fran Morris and her husband, John, moved into their new home in 2009, the interior designer knew that the cottage-style spirit of the house and neighborhood called for a classic approach—and that was just fine with her. “I wanted to use antique reproduction elements to preserve the charm of the area and the look of the house,” she says, noting that her own style is decidedly traditional.

A traditional-style living room decorated in a neutral scheme.
Photography by John O’Hagan, Styling by Kim Chiselko

Fran, however, isn’t afraid of a little change, and she enjoys adding splashes of contemporary style, “to keep it fun.” The result is a design that, while built on a base of neutral tones and dark woods, pops with varied shades of blue—like the clock-inspired wall art over the antique reproduction credenza in the living room.

A traditional bamboo style credenza with blue clock-inspired wall art.
Photography by John O’Hagan, Styling by Kim Chiselko

When the weather begins to cool, the blue tones of the home’s interior design are joined by warm autumnal shades and a plethora of pumpkins and gourds. “We love fall,” Fran says. “Both of my boys have October birthdays.” As a family, Fran, John, Burns, and Parker look forward to yearly visits to the local pumpkin patch and farmers’ market for pumpkins, gourds, and mums, and their football parties make good use of their home’s open kitchen and dining space. “With the beautiful weather and the changing colors, I just love to bring the pumpkins indoors, outdoors, and throughout the house,” Fran says.

An open floor plan featuring a dining area and family room.
Photography by John O’Hagan, Styling by Kim Chiselko

As in the rest of the home, the master bedroom features a palette of blue tones and dark wood—like the grand headboard and weathered nightstands—but the space also offers an added layer of femininity that, as the only woman in the house, Fran appreciates.

Antique weathered nightstand in a master bedroom.
Photography by John O’Hagan, Styling by Kim Chiselko

Piled high, the bedding demonstrates the importance that Fran places on the intentional layering of patterns and textures. “If you use at least two or three different textures, whether it’s on a sofa or your bedding ensemble, it creates some richness to it and completes it,” she says.

A large bed layered with teal blue linens.
Photography by John O’Hagan, Styling by Kim Chiselko

That principle carries over onto the back porch, one of the few alterations Fran and John made to the home when they moved in. Come fall, the bursts of blue and green are warmed by touches of orange, which fit perfectly alongside rustic accents like the stone fireplace John built himself and a handmade wooden bench that has been with the Morrises since Fran and John’s wedding. “We love to entertain family and friends . . . and that’s one reason why we wanted to add the covered porch and the outdoor fireplace—just for entertaining and to give us a little more space,” Fran says, noting the porch is a favorite gathering place during the cooler months.

A screened-in porch with a stone fireplace and overhead fan.
Photography by John O’Hagan, Styling by Kim Chiselko

Just as the home changes with the seasons of the year, welcoming the deep tones of autumn among the traditional beauty and colorful accents, it has also changed throughout the stages of the Morrises’ lives. “I feel like our house is ever-evolving and is adaptable for different seasons of life,” Fran says. Over the past decade, the space has changed to accommodate different needs, and as the leaves keep changing and the children keep growing, Fran believes it will continue to do so.

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