Before & After

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Catherine Kerr’s clients, Mary and Andy Schleiffart of Michigan and Siesta Key, loved their pretty new house in a quiet Osprey neighborhood. But the décor of the bedrooms put them to sleep. So how does a decorator transform ho-hum into happy and hospitable? Kerr called on color. "The bedrooms in this house looked identical to […]


Catherine Kerr’s clients, Mary and Andy Schleiffart of Michigan and Siesta Key, loved their pretty new house in a quiet Osprey neighborhood. But the décor of the bedrooms put them to sleep. So how does a decorator transform ho-hum into happy and hospitable? Kerr called on color.

"The bedrooms in this house looked identical to bedrooms in every piece of new construction," says Kerr. "They were small, basic boxes with no frills and no fun. Windows and doors were unadorned, not a molding or casement anywhere. And everything was painted white-all of the bedrooms were clean, sterile cells of nothing but white." The Schleiffarts gave Kerr carte blanche and a key, trusting in her judgment to spruce up the place. "They wanted me to surprise them," says Kerr.

The process started with a trip to the nearest Benjamin Moore paint store. Kerr washed the walls of the master bedroom in a shade called Prescott green and then painted contrasting spaces in a beautiful Wyatt blue. Pale yellow was chosen for the smallest guest room to enhance natural light from a single window. The third bedroom woke up with several coats of fresh Palladium green that sets off the white trim to perfection.

While still in her painter’s pants, Kerr got creative and painted colorful draperies around the single window in the yellow bedroom, using as inspiration a framed picture the owner selected. "Mary chose a painting for this bedroom and asked me to build the décor around it. So I replicated the blue and white checks and strong red tones and painted draperies that appear to be blowing about in a nice breeze," she says. A 1920s wicker chair from the Schleiffarts’ Michigan home, Norbart fabrics in playful polka-dotted and striped patterns, and piles of pillows imbue this bedroom with softness and spirit. A mirror and shelf in a bold green distressed finish add a strong note of color.

The small yellow bedroom was so pleasing that Kerr opted for another mural in the larger guest room. This time she called upon artist Robin Frey of Orlando to paint an old-fashioned postcard of Siesta Key on the wall. "Robin is terrifically talented and really captured the retro feel in her work," says Kerr. "The painted postcard set a playful, old-fashioned tone for this bedroom, and I followed through with furniture, bedding and accessories."

Pottery Barn’s distressed white wood bed covered in a colorful quilt splashed the room in rich reds, greens and the exact blue of the wall paint. Kerr mounted a red wooden sailboat above the headboard and painted an old hat rack to match. She accessorized with children’s toys, including a worn blue scooter, antique croquet set, jump rope and vintage gumball machine. Seashells, an old lantern and old-fashioned oyster can are artfully displayed in a wooden cupboard against one wall. An art deco clock that has been in the family for decades sits on a white wood slat bedside table. Wood blinds in crisp white, an antique white wicker chair and lots of fresh white trim give this room a nautical Nantucket feeling. "We added crown moldings to dress up the room and add charm," Kerr explains. "Now it feels cheery and inviting."

Kerr tackled the master bedroom last. She ordered draperies in a plaid fabric by Duralee that combines the blue and green of her chosen paint colors, and she designed cornices covered in blue linen fabric to coordinate. Paintings by Mary’s father work beautifully with the new color scheme, as does a framed piece of art from the Bahamas. A white cotton bedspread quilted with green palm trees is a light and lively touch. The owner’s favorite chair received a facelift with a fresh coat of paint and new upholstered seat to match the draperies. A white wood slat ship’s cabinet provides storage, and Kerr accessorized the room with a blend of family heirlooms and new acquisitions.

"I found the lamps and the wicker trunk in local shops," says Kerr. "The wooden dresser belonged to Mary when she was a little girl. The porcelain wine decanter, antique sewing box and stand, collection of vintage brooches and framed sampler are all family pieces. But the bookcase and throw pillows are new. I love the blend of old, familiar pieces with newer things. It gives a room depth."

The Schleiffarts are delighted with Kerr’s choice of colors, fabrics and furnishings. The metamorphosis took just weeks to accomplish and did not blow their budget. "The good news is that paint is affordable and the change is immediate," notes Kerr. "The right paint color will take a room from plain Jane to perfection in no time."

Design Team

Lighting fixtures by Northbay Lamps; window treatments by Jan Jackson; custom pillows and window treatments by Denise Mayes; accessories from Whit’s End and Sarasota Trading Company; design by Catherine Kerr Interiors.