New design elements that complement stately antiques breathe fresh air into a formal Newport home.
By Allison Herzog • Photography by Derrick Zellmann
Interior Design: Lou Lou’s Decor
For the current owners of Wisteria Lodge, an 1837 estate nestled among the famous mansions on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island, purchasing the summer retreat made perfect sense. The husband is originally from Newport and still has family there, and their Boston-area residence is within easy traveling distance. In redecorating the home, it was important to preserve some of the authenticity of the original décor, while adding in new pieces to give it a more modern look.
That’s when Lou Lou’s Decor stepped in. Focusing first on the living room, bar and master bedroom, Lou Lou’s owner Stacy Carlson, along with designer Courtney Bauer, achieved a seamless transitional look using a well-balanced mix of antiques and newer, more contemporary pieces.
The living room, done in shades of blue ranging from warm to cool, is accented with gold as a nod to the home’s 19th-century origins. Carlson notes that “the use of different textures in the living room creates a space that is interesting and warm.” Several furnishings blend old and new, such as the antique chairs and ottomans reupholstered in a Greek key print.
While retaining original wood paneling and moldings, a marble fireplace and antique sconces, modern elements were introduced, including a seascape by a New England artist, a giant sea urchin made of cast white resin, and gold nesting tables. In the high-ceilinged room, full-length windows are dressed with drapes in a gold and sky-blue cloud pattern. “The silk drapery fabric is one of my favorites,” says Carlson. “It has such a beautiful hand, and the silk offers a wonderful reflective quality.” With ocean-blue chenille sofas and a daybed, the overarching tone of the room is soothing and invites relaxation.
“The home was very ornate when they moved in,” explains Bauer, so they took it down a notch using simple, cool colors to give it a relaxing beach-house feel, while still keeping a bit of the formality of a traditional Bellevue Avenue home.
The bar is one room where the original paint color—a vivid green hue—was left unchanged. Other, complementing colors were brought in as well as bookshelf accessories, a beaded stone chandelier wrapped in natural hemp, and linen sconces adorned with real sea urchins, all of which give the room a nautical aspect, and, notes Carlson, “lend a touch of whimsy and playfulness to the room.” Adjacent to a small bar nook, this oasis is where the owners enjoy having a cocktail before heading out into Newport for the evening.
“The creamy-white settee and chairs really pop against the green walls, while the drapery fabric and accent pillows tie everything together,” notes Bauer. A framed map of Aquidneck Island hangs on the wall in this area as a fun nod to the region.
With its clean and crisp hues of cream, and pale- and navy-blue accents, the master bedroom is a peaceful retreat for the homeowners. Custom cream-colored cotton sateen bedding has a wide stripe of navy trim, and complementary accent pillows and drapery finish the look. A chandelier original to the room is a regal touch, while a pair of textured, cream velvet chairs and a set of nesting tables offer a comfortable spot for unwinding. Upon entering the room, a navy lacquer table and bone mirror welcome you inside.
With 18 rooms on nearly an acre on the most prestigious street in Newport, Wisteria Lodge has always entertained in refined style. Now, with the refreshing design style of Lou Lou’s Decor putting its signature stamp on the interiors, refined is also relaxed.