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Published: Wednesday August 27, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday August 28, 2014 MYT 5:06:13 PM

New urbanism: How one funky, multicoloured chandelier painted a whole house

Take a cue from a favourite object and let its hues rule your space.

Margie Garland had the MacKenzie-Childs Thistle designer chandelier on her computer wish list for years. Multicoloured and funky with glass-beaded fringe on its shades, it would never have worked in the ancient farmhouses she had previously lived in. 

But it would feel right at home in the new house she was building in the centre of Ligonier, a suburb of Pittsburgh, especially if it had equally colourful companions to play with. So she did it. She painted the walls of every room in her neo-traditional house the same bright hues she loved in the chandelier. 

On the outside, it’s old-school traditional with a balanced design, red-brick walls and crisp white trim. But the inside is much more open than most American Colonial-styled houses. Its central staircase allows Garland’s two boys and two dogs plenty of room to run.

“I offset the chandelier and the rug so people wouldn’t bump into the table in the dining room,” she says. A centrepiece that’s not in the centre? The amateur designer feared she had broken a cardinal red rule. “Colonials are supposed to be symmetrical. I thought, ‘Oh, my God! What have I done?’”

Inspirational: This is the chandelier that started Margie Garland off on her colour kick, which ended in a home that reflects the delicate colours in the piece. The colour of the centre piece of the fixture is picked up in the raspberry red wall colour in the background. - MCT photos
This is the chandelier that started Margie Garland off on her colour kick, which ended in a home that reflects the delicate colours in the piece. The colour of the centre piece of the fixture is picked up in the raspberry red wall colour in the background. – MCT photos
The chandelier's neon green picks out the walls in the entryway as well as the mudroom (right). The workmen all like this colour, reports Garland!
The chandelier's neon green picks out the walls in the entryway as well as the mudroom. The workmen all like this colour, reports Garland.
PLACE PIX 15b AND 15c CLOSE TOGETHER, SHARING CAPTION

But it fit her family’s lifestyle, and that’s one of the keys to New Urbanism and Neo-traditional style. A design-build firm adapted plans Garland had found in the Southern Living magazine, worked with her on the project. But the firms’ architects weren’t involved in colour selections. That was Garland’s idea.

She started with a shade by American paint manufacturer Valspar called Couture, a raspberry red, in the dining room. Next came an almost neon green that greets visitors at the front door.

Garland picked it first for the mudroom, which has green wallpaper with blue dots. Designer Lynn Butz encouraged her to use it again in the front hall. When Garland had her doubts, she found support in a surprising place.

“Whenever I had carpenters in the house, they really liked it,” she says, laughing.

The kitchen sports white cabinetry and “a Swedish blue”, Garland says. She used the same pecan-coloured granite on the counter tops and in the fireplace surround in the living room.

White cabinetry and plain hardwood floors keep the surroundings understated, allowing the bold wall colour to stand out.
White cabinetry and plain hardwood floors keep the surroundings understated, allowing the bold wall colour to stand out.
For the living room walls, Garland used a blue that is a shade darker than the one on the chandelier.
For the living room walls, Garland used a blue that's a shade darker than the one on the chandelier.

Most of the furniture came from the Amish Peddler, a store that handcrafts Amish furniture, and the flooring is hickory wood. “These features provide a neutral background that allow the colours to pop,” according to Garland.

They really do pop. Even her kids think so. “They said, ‘Mum, people are going to think you’re an artist!’”

No, not an artist. Just someone who isn’t afraid to live with colour.

“Since Western Pennsylvania is so cloudy, I wanted to take advantage of every bit of light,” Garland says, explaining what gave her the guts to use raspberry and neon green – very successfully! – in one home. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Tags / Keywords: Interior design, colour, chandeliers

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