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Anyone who’s ever stared too long at paint chips at the hardware store can tell you the cold, hard truth: choosing just the right colors for your home sometimes takes a village—or at least a little trial and error. .
But in February 2020, when magazine editor Elizabeth Kiefer and her husband, Andrew Tejerina, bought their 1901 cottage in Tivoli, New York, they knew one thing: The “Home Depot orange,” as she calls it, had to go. .
“In another house, I could be more eclectic, but because the space is as small as it is, it needed a streamlined look,” Kiefer says of the nearly 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom home they shared with a college professor. bought . That said, a beige-on-beige strong scheme was also out of the question. “I am very happy to see how design becomes more fun and is injected with personality again,” she says. “There is a tendency to confuse minimalism with style. But you have to be able to work with other things — otherwise how do you live in it?”
And so, achieving a layered, traditional look began at the paint shop, where they discovered a decision-making method that would help tell their home’s story. The couple mostly (if not exclusively) choose paint from Benjamin Moore’s Williamsburg collection, a predetermined series of shades that always go together that steered them in the right direction. “I knew I wanted softness, and the historic palette just made sense to us,” says Kiefer.
In the living room, where they covered the walls with Harwood Putty (“I’d bathe in this,” says Kiefer), they also added a wood-burning fireplace for a highlight of the outdoors. Their chair and sofa, a green velvet number, were floor samples (no supply chain delays here) they sourced from nearby Hammertown Barn, and the rest is vintage. (Except for their Samsung Frame TV, which blends in among other art they’ve collected over the years.)
That’s not to say that, even with a range of colors in hand, they haven’t encountered some mistakes along the way. In the kitchen, they chose a color called Tranquil Blue to cover aging avocado cabinets, but just one coat in, they quickly realized the shade didn’t live up to its calming name. They swung out and ended up with a greige color. But no regrets. “You have to give yourself the freedom to experiment and see if something works,” she says. “And if it doesn’t, you’re just out of a paint sample.”
For more difficult design problems, they had Kiefer’s best friend, Leah Ring of Another Human, on speed dial. “She’s always very good at encouraging me to experiment a little bit,” says Kiefer. For example, in their daughter Violet’s room, the couple chose a Cole & Son wallpaper pattern featuring her namesake flower. And in the primary bedroom, a sunny shade on the closet doors contrasts with a bright pinkish-red carpet and blue floors.
And when they were completely stumped, they painted an area white before choosing a shade. “Sometimes, only when a room is a clean slate can you start to project what possibilities are available,” says Kiefer. Finally, the white parts (aka the upstairs bathroom and hardwood floors) turned a soothing blue.
Paint colors aside, they didn’t stress too much about finding furniture, either picking things up at roadside estate sales (like her $50 desk, which she painted black) or at Antiques Warehouse Hudson, where they the cage that now lives in, has tightened. the dining room.
Together it all works, and for them it’s the ideal mix of cool and understated, without veering too far into cottagecore. It won’t be their forever home (in size, it might not work as Violet gets older), but for now, “it’s been a perfect little project,” Kiefer says. “And what we’ve learned by being here is that we’ve found our village, in a figurative and real sense.”