The Beauty of Restraint

It's not hard to believe that the owner of an art business would have an interesting and colorful home; the surprise is the beauty of a well-controlled color.

WHEN HARRIET MILLS, FOUNDER AND CEO of paint-and-sip franchise Wine & Design, laid eyes on her French country-style home in the Five Points neighborhood several years ago, she knew she wanted to make it her own. “The outside just drew me in,” Mills says of the architecture. “The inside was not my style—Tuscan with dark wood and trim—but I knew I could make it mine over time.”

And that she did. After living in the home for a while, the first project was reconfiguring the kitchen and painting everything in the house white. A blank canvas seemed appropriate for Mills to begin with. “I sat in my garage one weekend and just painted,” she recalls. “When I was done, I hung all the art up in my house. I am creative by nature, so having my own art or my friend’s art on all my walls feels authentic to me.”

With her growing family, Mills added a bedroom upstairs a few years ago, and she eventually added a covered porch to the back of the house. While she loved creating her home piece by piece, she stalled at one point and felt it was time to call in reinforcements. After reviewing the portfolios at Betsy Anderson Interiors & Co., Mills was eager to begin working with designer Katie O’Neal on her interiors. “Betsy and Katie have a clean and modern style, with a hint of that French country that I love,” she says.

“Having known Harriet, it was easy for all of us to create something beautiful and cohesive,” says O’Neal. “Color was the guiding influence, and Harriet certainly had her say about what she wanted to see. We knew we wanted to add strong pigments in a controlled way.” The team presented Mills with three designs, and after selecting some elements from each, a cohesive vision came together. “Each room has a unique charm and flows seamlessly from front to back, begging you to see what we have in store,” says O’Neal.

The team began by defining each space, considering furniture placement for each room to make them all simultaneously interesting and livable. The dining room led the way, packing a colorful punch with bold, floral wallpaper and matching curtains by  Designers Guild alongside fuchsia dining chairs and a portrait of Mills to complete the space. “It feels like you’ve walked into a garden,” says O’Neal of the dining room. “The crystal chandelier casts a soft glow over the room; the blue-and-white pottery adds balance to the fireplace.”

In the living room, Mills knew she wanted the ceiling wallpapered, so they chose a moody wallcovering from Zoffany with a dreamy bird pattern, which seemed apropos floating up above. The walls were kept white so that color could beintroduced in doses, with black and white as an underpinning. “The living room comes alive with the birds on the ceiling and the vibrant yellow on the drapes,” says O’Neal. “The calming white sofas offer an impactful backdrop, while the yellow pillows give it a final punch.” The jewel-toned carpet from Stark adds a surprising but perfect complement to the palette of the room. Mills adds that this is one of her favorite rooms and points to its sentimentality with a painting of her mother as a teenager hanging over the console. “It’s a very calming and therapeutic room. There’s no TV. I have pictures of my family in there, and, of course, my mom, who passed away three years ago.”

The family room is designed with a similar constraint, as well, built for warmth and relaxation. “The pale drapes and pink-and-lavender pillows add touches of color, alongside the peek of color we see inside the bookcase,” explains O’Neal. “With white walls and a white sofa, the color is always present, but soft.” O’Neal adds that they have “used color as a mood receptor,” moving from strong pigments in the front of the house to more quiet tones as you make your way to the back of the home.

From Mills’ perspective, designing a home is all about creating a space you love with things you love. “I have added a lot to my home by myself, which may make some designers crazy because they’re skilled at creating a magazine-perfect space,” she says. “But I love seeing pictures of my family out, which, yes, can sometimes seem cluttered, and I have found a few vintage pieces that may seem offbeat, but I adore them. I throw things in there that make me happy. The important thing, in my opinion, is to never feel obligated to have a home that someone else likes. It’s yours; you have to live there, and every piece of it should bring you joy.”