Almost An Afterthought

photos by Drew Piester

You may recall, we visited the stately Colonial Revival home at 716 W. Broadway in our summer Home & Garden issue, highlighting the kitchen renovation designed by Hannah Wilson of Columbia Showcase Kitchens & Baths.

After a brief hiatus, owners Heather and Adam Plues continued with their room-by-room transformation of this historic landmark home, built in 1909 by John N. and Elizabeth Taylor.

The Plueses turned to designer Jesse Bodine of Scout & Nimble, who developed design boards for living room, dining room, bedroom and sitting room makeovers. The sitting room, just to the right through the front door, was last on the list — almost an afterthought, Bodine recalls.

But as the designer and Plueses thought through how the family uses the home and their delight in entertaining, the sitting room redo took top billing.

“It was a room that could function on so many levels — as well as being a space that could make such an immediate impact and statement as soon as anyone entered,” Bodine says.

For the Plueses, every design decision starts from the premise of respect for the history of the home — one of the first Columbia properties to receive landmark status.

“They want to accentuate the details that are unique to their historic home,” Bodine says. In the case of the sitting room, that meant incorporating the original radiators as a design element rather than treating them as an eyesore to be clumsily disguised with layers of wall-colored paint. Adam stripped off the old paint, restoring them with an oil-rubbed bronze specialty paint that transforms them into a functional, historic feature that now elevates the room.

Next came the wall color. Though a fan of whites, Bodine said the existing cream color made the room look tired and brought out an unpleasant orange tinge in the brick fireplace surround.

Given the room’s large windows and brightness, Bodine suggested Benjamin Moore’s Temptation, a deep charcoal hue with blue undertones. The color decision emphasized the cozy intimacy of the setting, while also bringing out warmer, rose hues in the brick.

The design challenge that historic homes pose is how to balance respect for preserving original details with contemporary needs. “You want to keep as much as possible intact and true to the home’s origins, but you also want to incorporate styles that are functional for today’s uses and reflect the current owner’s personal style,” Bodine says.

Elevate & Animate

Bodine set about harmoniously blending the contemporary and historic in this room, incorporating accessories from the couple’s own history: a sunburst mirror that once hung above Adam’s grandmother’s fireplace; travel books, statues and artifacts with special meaning; kilim pillows that brought warmth and color to the room while referencing Adam’s international travels. A leather settee and a pair of swivel chairs in front of the fireplace make for intimate seating — just right for a lazy afternoon of reading or for after-dinner drinks and conversation with friends while the children watch television in the nearby living room.

Plants and layered rugs — a cowhide over a neutral jute — add interest and texture. A glass coffee table puts those textures on display, their lines and layers uninterrupted. The table’s oil-rubbed bronze frame echoes the radiator finish.

An oversized, simple geometric pendant chandelier creates interest in the high-ceilinged room. It complements the more contemporary graphic patterns of the window treatment and brings a fresh, contemporary twist. “I think it’s important to mix styles and bring in a piece or element or two that adds a touch of the unexpected,” Bodine says. This tension both elevates and animates a space above the ordinary.

The Plueses’ well-curated accessories add that special touch that warms and personalizes design in ways that “should always be about making you comfortable and bringing you joy,” Bodine says. The project was a success in that regard: “It’s my favorite room in the house…!” Heather says.

First Impressions

(More to come)

An entrance foyer is all about first impressions. And the Plueses’ makes a mighty one.

Its 10-foot-wide staircase is so grand that during the home’s ignominious stint as a boarding house, a wall divided it down the middle.

During the home’s next life as a bed-and-breakfast, some of the entryway’s grandeur was restored. A single home once again, the entrance is due for a refresh that reenergizes it for this new time and family — while honoring its historic “bones.”

Sometimes even dramatic changes involve modest interventions. “Scale is often one of the biggest issues in design,” Bodine says. “Rugs, furniture, art — people tend to go smaller or larger than is right for the space.” Simply replacing a smaller table with a more substantial 48-inch table added interest and dimension to the space. Removing a tired burgundy print runner opens the stairway up to a stellar makeover of its own. More changes are in store to enhance and preserve the original drama of this expansive space — details, TBA. Stay tuned for next spring’s Home & Garden.