REPEAT CLIENTS ARE ALWAYS WONDERFUL, BUT especially so when the symbiotic relationship seems practically effortless. Whitney Sturge designed her clients’ first home several years ago, and though the heart of the style has remained the same, the focus has evolved. “This is the second home I have done with this couple,” Sturge says, “so I had a good sense of their style, but it has grown. The homeowner used to want neutral tones only, but she is opening up to color now, and you can see it in this home.”
The home in Myers Park was old and needed significant updating, and the homeowners brought Sturge in at the outset to visualize the changes. “The home had a great layout, but it was in a state of disrepair and needed a lot of work,” the homeowner explains. “That ideal layout meant that we could update the home without doing a major reconfiguration. We have known Whitney for some time, and she’s a wonderful person and, of course, designer. Our styles have always been in sync, so we knew she was the person to tackle the project.” The homeowners wanted the home to be light, comfortable, and welcoming, with the same neutral base but with a widening palette of colors added to each room. “I also love a neutral base; it evolves easily as you change out pieces periodically,” Sturge says. “The home was very traditional on the outside, but they wanted to elevate the inside to a little more contemporary feel. It just needed a little love and some updating.”
The home was very heavy, as Sturge describes it, with dark wood and trim, ornate fixtures and details, and outdated lighting. So they began by tearing out ornate pieces like the railings, for example, and streamlining the details for a more modern effect.
The dark kitchen cabinets were painted a creamy, light color, and the backsplash was torn out and replaced with shiplap. “I knew the minute I walked into that kitchen that it needed shiplap,” Sturge recalls. “The space had so many features that I felt like shiplap was the perfect way to add interest without being fussy.” New countertops and light fixtures, along with a reconfigured island, made the kitchen an entirely new space.
“We really trusted Whitney’s vision and let it take shape organically,” the homeowner says. “This was the largest project we had ever done, so there was a meaningful amount of trust required, and she was so awesome.”
Sturge adds, “They are dream clients because they trusted me so much. When you’re working on such an intimate space for clients, it’s special to get that kind of confidence. And when the project is over, it’s almost sad to have to separate yourself from their everyday life. It never feels like a job when that happens.”
Every room has a neutral foundation, which Sturge built on with art and color. The result is a delicate and well-executed balance of transitional style that strikes at the very chord of both homeowners. “My husband leans in more to color and fun, but I prefer a calming and neutral space,” the homeowner offers. “I grew up at the beach, and natural colors remind me of home. Whitney really struck that balance for us, particularly with the art, which started as challenging because of our differing tastes but ended up being a truly rewarding part of our home.”
With the right combination of practicality for the homeowners and creativity from the design, each space is packed with transitional style. The living room bookshelves are alive with pieces handed down through the husband’s family, and antiques dot the rooms, but with the addition of colorful pillows on the couch, nothing looks out of place. Contemporary paper and modern lighting in the foyer are the perfect backdrop for the antique sideboard— unorthodox, though effortless in the application. In the powder room, one of Sturge’s favorite spaces, a wallcovering by Sally King Benedict offers a playful backdrop to the unlacquered brass Waterworks fixture, sconces from Circa Lighting, and an antique mirror from Cotswold Marketplace. The custom floating fluted vanity is a modern upgrade that is perhaps unexpected but a perfect juxtaposition to the understated elegance that marks the room.
And so it goes in every space—a pointed balancing act executed with care so that everyone gets something they love. Among the natural elements and pops of color, the range of art and modern moments, and a passion for design, a touch of love can be found in between.