When Caren Laverty took me on a tour of her Montgomery home, remodeled by Nicole Russell of Lauren Alexandra Interiors, I was reminded a little bit of my journey through the Vatican Museums.
No, her house wasn’t filled with bodiless busts and centuries-old tapestries depicting Medieval maps. Rather, I felt that way because there was just so much to look at. Nearly everywhere Caren pointed featured the touch of Nicole’s keen designer’s eye.
From embroidered wallpaper and a hair-hide sofa to a custom dining room table and original artwork on the walls, the house’s new features simply beg to be seen. And while Caren and her husband, Bill, don’t have any plans to open their house to the public any time soon, they do have a major event in the works that will enable guests to view the fruits of all their hard work: their son’s wedding.
That’s right, like almost every event set to take place over the past few months, the family’s initial nuptial plans had to be altered due to the coronavirus and subsequent quarantine. In this case, the Lavertys swapped a big wedding at North Carolina’s Pinehurst Resort for a more intimate ceremony and reception—at their house.
Even though the duo has been working on house updates off and on for nearly three years, in many ways it seems as though Caren and Nicole had been unknowingly working toward this occasion the entire time.
They first met on the tennis courts at the Club at Harper’s Point. Drawn to her personality and individual style, Caren initially asked Nicole to help her update the drapes in her living room. Eventually that project led to making changes in the dining room, then the family room, the kitchen, the powder room, the foyer and the office.
“She’s such a warm person, smiles easily, is quick to laugh and has style in everything she does,” Caren says. “Not surprisingly, I found her very easy to work with. She took the time to find out my style and helped me coordinate what I like so everything flows throughout my house.”
One of the major ways in which Caren’s house was updated was the addition of wallpaper to many of the first-floor rooms. Wallpaper is on-trend again, according to Nicole. And, to that end, they added a lot of unique, beautiful wall coverings to the house, including a floral and avian pattern by Schumacher in the powder room. An off-white, embroidered paper was added to the foyer and upstairs hall, golden-brown silk wallpaper now graces the dining room, and a fabric-backed wallpaper enriches the office, all by Cowtan & Tout.
The house also features fabric on the window treatments by Stout and Cowtan & Tout; artwork from Madeira artist Karen Rolfes and Gallery Veronique; furniture by Jonathan Charles and Hancock & Moore; and paint from Sherwin Williams.
Another fun twist to the design relationship is that Caren’s daughter, Charlene, works at New York City textile company Pollack & Associates—and was able to help with the designs as well as obtain some of the textiles that Caren and Nicole used throughout.
“It’s been a collaborative effort with Caren, her daughter and me,” Nicole says. “Charlene and I work in the same industry, and together, we’ve come up with some great designs.”
Commitment by the Koi Pond
Although Nicole and Caren have a few more design details to work through (reupholstering furniture, repainting) before her son Joseph’s backyard wedding in August, Caren is happy that this work-in-progress happened to come together at just the right time.
“[Even though] they ended up having a very small ceremony, we wanted to make sure the families and their friends were able to celebrate with them … so we offered to have a backyard reception,” Caren explains. “They’ll have a small ceremony—even though they’re already married—so everyone can hear their vows to each other. We feel incredibly blessed.”
The Lavertys also have a nicely landscaped backyard and pool area (thanks to Caren’s love of gardening) ... Joseph and his bride, Heather, will say their vows right next to the koi-filled pond that he and his friend dug when they were in high school. “It’s such a reflection of our son—the perfect place for him to celebrate his wedding, and Heather was happy about it as well!” Caren says.
Top 5 House Remodel Trends
Many of us are tackling home remodeling projects while spending more time than usual indoors. According to Nicole, keep these 2020 design trends in mind as you redecorate.
2. Natural and organic pieces
3. Pops of color
4. Metals, particularly brass
5. Floral prints
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