It’s Design Inspiration! From A Swatch Of Fabric Comes The Design Direction For An Entire Wilmington Area Home

Posted on | October 21, 2014 | No Comments

It simply started with a Brunswig & Fils swatch of fabric. When barely more than a set of blue prints existed for a 4,800 square foot home on the Intracoastal Waterway, that piece of fabric ended up being all the inspiration that Wilmington interior designer Kathy McKenzie’s clients needed. The vision and direction of the project just grew from there. North Carolina Design recently sat down with Kathy McKenzie and Patti Baker of the Wilmington interior design firm McKenzie Baker Interiors to hear more about the direction of this project as well as the design aesthetic of their group.

Images Courtesy of McKenzie Baker Interiors ©

Working with clients that have not yet relocated means lots of emails, countless pictures being sent and the occasional meeting on weekends to finalize selections. Kathy and her client immediately ‘clicked’ so it was a great working relationship from the start. From that one piece of fabric, the color palette for the entire house developed. “She knew she wanted a sky blue and beach color palette and that that fabric really spoke to her,” notes Kathy. “Khaki and Palladian Blue continue throughout the house. There is a little bit of that blue in every room.”

Unlike many projects where the design involves melding existing possessions with new furnishings, Kathy was essentially starting with a clean slate. “They had been living in Annapolis and wanted to basically get rid of all their furniture,” she explains. “It was all heavy, 30 or 40 years old and moving was the right time to start fresh with new colors and furnishings.”

This is a home where the clients, their children and grandchildren would gather from different locations to spend time together as a family. It therefore needed to be family friendly. The clients also like to entertain so it was important that the home allow for large groups coming together. “The fabrics are durable and beautiful, but nothing is really precious,” affirms Kathy. “The dining table and the eating areas outside are designed for eating and hosting a lot of people. She wanted everybody to be comfortable and have a lot of space, so the bedrooms all have seating areas. Nothing too fancy and everything is very livable.”

As an interior design firm located in Wilmington – which is a vacation destination as well as a vibrant city – McKenzie Baker Interiors designs rental homes as well as primary residences. Both designers agree that the approach to a rental house project is different. “I’m working on a rental beach house right now, so the selections I make must be able to hold up,” offers Patti. “The rental will also be more casual. You’ll find however, that most people who live at the beach or in Wilmington still want some formality in their home – not too casual. You’ll often see that in a formal dining room – they still entertain that way.”

While Kathy’s client has no formal dining room, the home clearly has formal accents throughout which wonderfully complement the livable feel of the house. “These folks wanted it to be comfortable with a little bit of formality,” Kathy offers. “The formality here shows through in the selection of fabrics as well the accessories placed throughout the home.”

“When Kathy and I begin a project, the time we spend talking to a client is the most important part of the project,” affirms Patti. “We learn how they live, how they want their house to live, what they like and don’t like. In the end, it’s about having the design speak of our clients, not of us. We are really big into incorporating things that have special meaning to them into the design. It personalizes the space.”

“Some of the keepsakes on display mark our clients life journey as a family, and the places they’ve lived. There are a lot of pieces here from Panama, where they lived for a long time,” explains Kathy. “The children were small there, so they kind of grew up in Panama. The pieces from there are personal and special to our clients so it was important that we included them in the design. They also give the bookshelves in the great room a collected look.”

The great room in the home is separated from the porch by a glass wall made up of telescoping doors which can be opened up, allowing one space to flow into the other. Whether you are in the great room, on the porch or grabbing a little sun by the pool, there is no denying that the best feature of this house is the heart stopping view of the Intracoastal Waterway.

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