Spotlight Feature – Kara Childress Luxe Gold List
Hi Friends! I hope you all are having a wonderful week and spread a little love on Valentine’s Day! I was so excited to see that my sweet friend Kara Childress was listed as Luxe Gold List 2021 Honoree! The home featured was done in collaboration with Kara, Newberry Architects, and Goodchild Builders. We had worked with this homeowner when they first moved in to this lovely home. Years later, we were so excited to work with the team transforming the spaces into what they now feel is their forever home.
The welcoming entry way was the cover of Luxe July/August 2020 feature and now has been reposted on Luxe’s on-line magazine. Segreto plastered the walls and ceiling in a delicate tone to give the space depth and provide a backdrop for the impressive artwork and furnishings. The article is so beautifully written by Maile Pingel and photographed by Julie Soefer that I decided to repost it as is with a few notes from me! I know you will enjoy their amazing work as much as we enjoyed working with this team on the project.
“This house is very inviting,” says interior designer Kara Childress, referring not simply to the light-filled rooms and cozy corners. “There’s always something in the kitchen, from brownies and cookies to custom-colored M&Ms in candy jars.” And that’s just as it should be for a home bustling with teenagers and guests.
The homeowners purchased the residence some years ago with the idea of renovating, but only now does it truly reflect their vision. “They’ve lived in and loved this house, but it was finally time to focus on forever,” says Childress, who collaborated with architect Ken Newberry on the renovation. With the residents relocated to a nearby rental for the school year, the design team—joined by builder Steve Goodchild and his project manager, Gregg Catani—was able to line up permits and materials in advance, “allowing construction to move quickly and smoothly,” notes Childress.
Childress and Newberry also reconfigured the flow of the ground floor rooms, opening passages to relieve the bottleneck often forming during parties. “Circulation is extremely important,” notes Newberry, whose project manager was Laura Castillo. “I walked the clients through the first floor rooms and explained that each space needed a ‘people magnet,’ ” he says, “such as height, light and air, a bar, television or reading nook—a reason to be there.” To his point, Childress devised captivating spaces, playing up the structure’s beautiful bones with monumental antique mantels that create a feeling of authenticity and cohesion.
I love how the plaster creates such depth to this home, creating the appearance that archways have been carved out to the material and creating a warm backdrop for the amazing art and exquisite furnishings.
Just off the foyer—which displays art by Donald Baechler and Bill Fenoglio—a dramatic dark blue lounge and bar area offers a quiet retreat for the husband while doubling as a prime entertaining spot. The lounge vibe and full bar extend to an outdoor seating area “perfect for cigars and a nightcap,” says Childress.
The moody space also created an opportunity to bring in sculptural moments like a BassamFellows leather sling chair, and to further build the couple’s art collection with works by Hunt Slonem and David Yarrow.
A new passageway and wine room now link the lounge to the great room, which serves as a main living space for the family and their dogs. Artwork also plays a key role in the great room, including works by Gray Malin and Carlos Cruz-Diez. The couple’s approach to collecting, done in part with Janet Hobby of MKG Art Management, is driven “by pieces that move them,” says Childress, and she let that passion influence the palette.
Open to the kitchen, breakfast area and backyard, the space also now enjoys an ideal flow. “It didn’t seat enough people before but we modernized it and made it a place to gather,” Childress says, crediting her associate designer Ally Dougherty and project manager Thecla Lindemann. They kept furnishings plush and neutral, repurposing the owners’ antique armoire and bergères, while also introducing acrylic pieces to help bounce light—a trick Childress employed throughout the house using mirrors.
In the kitchen, Segreto applied a wash on the island cabinetry to add a beautiful gray tone to the once orange wood.
We glazed the perimeter kitchen cabinets years ago. Still classic, a few new drawer additions were blended to match the original finish. Plaster when done subtly also holds the test of time. Much of this plaster work was also done years ago. We repaired where needed and matched tone and technique in new areas. I have worked with Kara before on this lovely home but for this renovation my daughter Kirby took the lead.
In the dining room, for example, a Paul Chidlaw abstraction in gray influenced the bright and airy space, which was previously dark and traditional. Here, Childress brought in a few antiques—demilune tables and a set of 19th-century French doors—but edited them in a fresh way. The table, for example, received a smoke-mirrored top to reflect the unadorned plaster walls and pale fabrics.
Like the rest of the rooms, the master suite also became a people magnet. “The homeowners thought about bumping it out to create larger closets,” recalls Newberry, “but they had the square footage and simply needed a better layout.” Gutting and starting over was the answer, one which still allowed Childress to include a cozy fireside lounge where the couple can de-stress in the evenings—no doubt while enjoying a few of those bespoke M&Ms.
I am so thankful for all the wonderful people I get to collaborate with each and every day and for them trusting Segreto with their projects. Congratulations to you, Kara, and the Newberry and Goodchild teams! You are each so wonderful to work with and all so deserving of such an honor! If ya’ll have time to visit their websites, do! Filled with beautiful interiors they are filled to the brim with design inspirations! I have previously featured some of Kara’s exquisite work on another blog, you can read it here. Till Next Week! XO Leslie