Though interior designer Larina Kase has a fondness for bold color, she hated the mustard walls in the house she and her husband, John Kosteva, purchased more than three years ago.
Ugly paint aside, the two-story Colonial in Devon had much of what the couple was looking for.
Its location was convenient for John, a physician at Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine Valley Forge, and close to Larina's clients, many of whom live on the Main Line. And the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District had a good reputation — a plus for the couple's three young sons.
The home, built in 2003, had five bedrooms and three baths on the second floor — plenty of room for visiting grandparents. The finished basement had a full bath, a play area for the boys, and space for a man cave and workout room for John, a marathon runner.
The open flow of rooms on the first floor meant Larina could keep an eye on the boys, and the half-acre lot provided space for outdoor activities.
The mustard, though, had to go. "It made everything dark," Larina says.
She painted the center hall, stairwell, and most of the downstairs living areas in neutral shades. Upstairs, maroon walls in the master bedroom were repainted a "more restful" fawn.
Then Larina took out her color palette.
In the dining room, she painted the walls above the white wainscoting a pale teal to go with upholstered chairs that are a deeper teal. Emerald-green glass vases on the ash table complete the dramatic tone-on-tone effect. A fanciful light fixture of entwined circles came from Ballard Designs in King of Prussia. Teal drapes are trimmed with chartreuse to pick up the colors in a landscape painted by Larina's grandmother.
Blues and greens are repeated in a more abstract landscape over the fireplace in the family room. For Larina, a painting by California artist Janet Bludau evokes memories of the sea and of the Grand Canyon, where she and John became engaged. They married in 2007.
The family room is furnished with "greige" sofas, a child-sized table with turquoise chairs, a turquoise toy bin, and an oak coffee table with turquoise legs.
"I love turquoise and any shade of blue," Larina says.
The coffee table, which she designed, and a rough-hewn table in the breakfast room were crafted by Lancaster artisans.
Persimmon chairs in the breakfast room complement a colorful wall of framed art by her sons, now 5, 7, and 8. With the children in mind, Larina says, she wants the décor to be practical and "playful."
The youngsters' artistic talent could be inherited. Works by their great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother are displayed in the house and include Larina's painting of a nude dancer and portrait of an exotic woman with a leopard inspired by a summer in Costa Rica. Larina's abstract sculptures are displayed on shelving in the living room along with ceramics gifted by her father, an art and antiques dealer.
When Larina needed something large to hang over the blue couch in the living room, she and her father stretched blue, orange and white patterned fabric over canvas and mounted it on the wall. The fabrics for the canvas and for the pillows on the couch came from Galbraith & Paul in Manayunk.
An orange throw drapes a white chair nearby. A gray wool area rug covers the oak flooring.
Larina decorated walls in her first-floor office with origami-like yellow, orange, and blue paper cutouts.
Most windows in the house are hung with basket weave semi-sheer curtains, which can be pulled back to reveal treetop vistas.
To update the kitchen, Larina painted the original wood-stained cabinets white. Possible future projects include exchanging the dark granite countertops for white marble and installing a Spanish tile backsplash.
Recently, she hung bright green-and-white patterned wallpaper in one of the two powder rooms.
While she gladly designs rooms with traditional furnishings for her clients, "I can experiment more in my own home," she says.
After they bought the house, John and Larina replaced the original stucco exterior with gray fiber cement siding and added dark gray shutters. Larina preserved her reputation as a color enthusiast by painting the front door bright orange.