Ann and John Ross’s 1970s-era waterfront home got a jolt of color and breezy island attitude when designer Lee Younger took "the elephant in the room"-an assertive green vintage chinoiserie curio cabinet the homeowners never really liked but couldn’t jettison because it’s an heirloom-and made it the focal point of the new living/dining room. Younger keyed his color scheme to the curio cabinet, adding white, bright yellow and a bold tropical fabric. "When I told my friends the room was going to have school bus yellow walls and black drapes, I got some funny looks," remembers Ann Ross. "But just look at it now. We would never have been this brave on our own, but we’re absolutely thrilled with the result."
The green curio cabinet with its gold chinoiserie motif became the leitmotif of Lee Younger’s design scheme. The room is designed to show off the cabinet instead of hiding it.
Younger changed the seating arrangement by floating the furniture in the center of the room for intimate conversation. The whimsical coffee table, originally mahogany, was painted green and white to blend into the sophisticated island scheme and echo the green of the cabinet. For drama, the designer brought the piano into the room from its prior family room location.
Once he knew the curio cabinet would dictate colors, Younger selected a bold Robert Allen fabric; the rest of the color choices fell from the colors in the drapes and dining room chair seats. The fabric reads black, but is actually deep chocolate. Younger picked a large, bold pattern to trick the eye into seeing a higher ceiling.
The sofa was the first piece the Rosses bought for their home some 30 years ago. Younger recovered it in tweed Sunbrella fabric that looks like linen but resists spills and fading. The two armchairs are antiques and covered in the Robert Allen fabric.
Younger had all the major artwork in the room reframed and added additional lighting. The designer says having picture frames replaced and updated is a fail-proof quick decorating fix. Sometimes just rotating art through the home will enliven rooms.
By simply painting the apron and legs of the traditional, nondescript wood dining room table, the designer gave it a new lease on life and brought the table into the island design of the room. Chairs were repainted, too, and cloaked with drapery and sofa fabrics to tie the two areas of the room together. Younger says he advises clients to refashion existing furniture rather than getting rid of everything.
The Oriental rugs date from the home’s construction in 1970. The Chinese planters that flank the room with palms are reproduction pieces from Younger’s showroom.