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Your Home: Relaxed Elegance

Against the gray

Shades of one handsome hue make bright accents pop in a young family’s dream home in Winchester.

Brass and stainless pendant lamps by Lunabella hang over the stairwell.Michael J Lee

KIBIBI GANZ HAD ONE IMPORTANT CAVEAT when she and her husband, Matthew, hired Boston-based design firm Color Theory to decorate their new home: It had to be colorful. The Ganzes had worked with the Color Theory team — husband and wife Brad Dufton and Kendra Amin-Dufton — two years prior, having hired them to create a nursery in their Somerville condo. While they loved the results, and the design duo’s portfolio features plenty of bright spots, Kibibi knew about Brad’s passion. “Brad loves gray,” she says. But Brad assured her color would figure prominently, so they sealed the deal.

Funnily enough, the walls throughout the Ganzes’ 5,000-square-foot Winchester home range from smoky charcoal to chalky blue-gray. Brad says: “The gray tones are easy on the eyes and create seamless transitions between rooms. Most importantly, they allow the colorful furnishings to really pop.”


Kibibi says simply, “We trusted him.”

Kibibi and Matthew, who have a 2-year-old daughter and another little girl on the way, purchased the house based on a loose set of architectural plans in May 2012. From the outside, the home is Colonial in style, but inside it boasts a relatively open floor plan and pared-down finishes chosen by Color Theory.

The formal living room is one of the first spaces you see, and the designers wanted it to make a statement. Its walls are painted Benjamin Moore “Rock Gray,” a moody color, and the darkest one used in the home. “Formal spaces benefit from darker colors,” says Brad, “because they help to decompress energy, making you want to stay longer for conversation.”

The room is hardly a dark spot. Rather, it’s bewitching, glowing with color and shine. A rich turquoise sofa pops against the deep gray walls, while a gold starburst mirror dominates a wall between windows left purposefully bare so that the lively furnishings could take center stage. Two barley twist armchairs, topped with cushions upholstered in an ikat fabric by Thom Filicia for Kravet, add a touch of global flavor and hint at the couple’s backgrounds. Kibibi, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Matthew, a Peace Corps veteran, are exceptionally well traveled. While child-friendly, in that it’s devoid of sharp edges and precious fabrics, this room is designed for the adults.


In the family room, where the Ganzes spend most of their time, walls in a mid-tone gray with a blue-green cast help contain the mostly light-colored furniture and abundant sunlight. An oversize Flexform sofa (a style Kibibi spotted on a trip to Paris), upholstered in a tweedy cotton/linen blend, offers ample seating and is low enough for their daughter, Eva, to climb up and down. Brightly patterned pillows are scattered on the sofa, and three whimsical round ottomans take the place of a coffee table. In addition to the fireplace surround done in lava stone, a colorful cluster of traditional African juju hats that the Ganzes brought back from Johannesburg (at the designers’ request) draws the eye.

The sunroom off the kitchen is equally family-friendly and cheerful. Instead of the traditional wicker, there are designer pieces from contemporary furniture store Montage in Boston. Initially, the black three-piece sofa, saucer chair, and bright poufs, chosen for their durability and capricious style, were intended for the basement playroom. In an aha moment, frustrated by the search for suitable sunroom furniture, Kendra realized the couple already had the perfect stuff. “Given the investment, and that they’re actually indoor-outdoor pieces, it made sense to put them here,” she says. In warm weather, the family can open the doors to the deck and move the pieces outside.


Looking to create restful havens on the second floor, the designers opted for a somewhat more restrained palette. The master bedroom, painted the same dark gray as the formal living room, has mostly black and white accents. A dramatic black-framed four-poster Maxalto bed by B&B Italia (another style spotted on the couple’s Paris vacation) dominates the space. On the other side of the room is a boldly femme sitting area, complete with a dainty vanity and a fainting couch covered in an African-inspired magenta fabric by Iman for Kravet. An ikat rug and graphic ottoman further punch up the look.

Overall, the home is filled with one “wow” after another, expertly tempered for livability. “It looks better than we ever imagined, and so welcoming,” says Kibibi. “Brad and Kendra put their heart and soul into our house.”

Marni Elyse Katz blogs about design at Send comments to