Home tour: A cottage shows you when to restrain color, when to cut loose

Country Living

By tossing conventional wisdom out the window, interior designer Lisa Teague found inventive ways to brighten up her New Hampshire home.

Here are six lessons worth checking out:

Staircase. Photo: Björn Wallander | Country Living

Lesson #1: Wring drama from an overlooked spot.

Lisa Teague set the palette for her whole house by brushing a spectrum of shades on the risers of her staircase—the first thing people see when they walk in the door. “I wanted to make a statement, but a subtle one,” she explains.

For her stairs, Teague mixed glaze into the paint to achieve this lightly weathered effect.


Single painted wall. Photo: Björn Wallander | Country Living

Lesson #2: A single painted wall can speak volumes.

In Lisa Teague’s living room, a window frame from an old barn hangs above the sofa, handed down from a client. The decorator repurposed a vintage upholstered ottoman—its legs recast in turquoise—as a coffee table.

“This cool green wall causes the others to recede—which makes my narrow living room feel larger,” says Teague, who used Sea Glass paint from her own line. “Plus, the sofa and artwork would’ve disappeared against white.”


A loud pattern. Photo: Björn Wallander | Country Living

Lesson #3: A loud pattern wakes up a cozy nook.

Forget little furniture in an itty-bitty space. By filling this tight kitchen corner with a chair that’s big in both scale and print, Teague tricked the eye into seeing another room.

Teague revived her grandmother’s fussy mahogany armchair with high-gloss indigo paint and a graphic trellis-print fabric by Schumacher. The pillow is from Anthropologie.


Open shelving. Photo: Björn Wallander | Country Living

Lesson #4: Create a sense of space with open shelving.

Fearing upper cabinets would overpower her galley kitchen, Teague opted instead for simple white planks and custom brackets, set against a playful chalkboard-painted wall. She then took the bottom-heavy idea one step further: “My fridge is tucked under the counter,” Teague reveals. Adding to the efficiency, the island—her only dining area—sports a drop leaf.

Affordable Whirlpool appliances, plus salvaged materials—limestone counters and the island’s pine top—cut kitchen costs.


Sneaky storage. Photo: Björn Wallander | Country Living

Lesson #5: This artful display is really sneaky storage.

Strapped for closet space, Teague hung her collection of hats (including one that belonged to her grandmother, top) on a bedroom wall. “I actually wear these,” she notes, “so it’s important to have them accessible.” For the same reason, a vintage wicker basket atop her dresser corrals scarves.

Teague topped this woven dresser, a garage-sale score, with a mirrored tray from Target. The flower decorations are actually Umbra pushpins, and the wall paint is Teague’s own Beach Pebble.


Bright colors. Photo: Björn Wallander | Country Living

Lesson #6: Know when to go for broke.

While Teague loves dramatic color, she also realizes it can overwhelm the senses. “I could never sleep in a hot-pink room,” she admits. “But this home office is a space I rarely use.” Inspired by flowers in her yard, the designer covered the walls in her line’s attention-grabbing Peony, then painted on a few bright-orange leaves.

A white Ikea sofa and foliage-print pillows sewn from Kravet fabric provide cool balance in the home office. The multihued pillow is from Anthropologie; the mirror, from a yard sale.

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