DEBBIE LEIBOLE says she was honored to be asked last fall by the Wellesley Hills Junior Women’s Club to open her home for its annual spring kitchen tour, which benefits local charities and scholarship programs. Leibole loves her spacious light-filled kitchen with its 12-by-4-foot calacatta marble-topped island and expanse of windows overlooking Perrin Park. But she was also apprehensive. “I knew people would be walking through all the rooms on the first floor to reach the kitchen,” says Leibole.
While she, her husband, and their two children had lived for a year in their dream home — a brick Colonial with English carriage-house characteristics, designed by architect Kent Duckham and built by ABRN Development Corp. — the interiors were still a work in progress. The upcoming tour provided a reason to get serious about finishing them, and a deadline. With four months to go, Leibole hired Chestnut Hill-based designer Elizabeth Benedict to help create warm, welcoming rooms with a preppy, family-friendly vibe.
To ensure that spaces were harmonious, Benedict recommended using the same palette throughout the first floor. “By using consistent colors throughout, spaces don’t stop,” says Benedict. Leibole’s favorite hues — navy blue and Kelly green — provided a starting point; splashes of pink were added to the scheme as the design progressed.
Working to a strict budget, Benedict saved money by reupholstering existing furniture, most of which was traditionally styled, along with reusing a few cherished antiques. She re-covered the family room sofa in a navy blue Brunschwig & Fils fabric, adding white piping for preppy flair; an armchair is sheathed in the same fabric with a white rugby stripe added along the bottom. “Since the pieces were made by different manufacturers with different arms, they couldn’t be piped out the same,” says Benedict, “so we treated them as complements of one another.”
A French bergere chair and matching ottoman were upholstered in a bold green Schumacher print depicting birds and trees. It’s a statement piece, says Benedict. “The pattern is big, and it stands out even more because of the wood — almost as if the fabric is being framed.” Leibole wanted the built-in bookcases flanking the fireplace to look neat and bright, so Benedict used them to emphasize the color scheme. She tapped a to-the-trade resource, Decorative Leather Books, for various classic English novels wrapped in green, white, and pink leather to display in the shelves.
Playing off the bright white that dominates the kitchen, Benedict wanted all the whites throughout the house to be authentic — ivory would not do. At the breakfast table, the white Pindler & Pindler fabric on the window seat was “as stainproof and Scotchgarded as you can get,” says Benedict. Lilly Pulitzer pillows in a variety of blue and white patterns provide pop. Leibole envisioned traditional French bistro chairs for the table, and while she and Benedict ruled them out as too expensive, Benedict found more affordable chairs by Serena & Lily with similar styling and woven plastic seats and backs.
Combing Craigslist and secondhand stores is another way to save money, and Benedict encourages her clients to look there for deals on high-quality furniture. “You shouldn’t be afraid to buy used pieces,” she says. “Almost anything can be re-purposed.” Heeding that advice, Leibole headed to Furniture Consignment Gallery in Newton Centre, where she found a Queen Anne flamed mahogany table for the dining room. While the antique piece was worn, a refinishing restored its luster. The dining room’s walls are painted Van Deusen Blue, a Benjamin Moore shade that feels navy when the sun hits it. The drapes were a splurge — the Brunschwig & Fils fabric features two slightly different blues in the background of a white block-printed pattern. “We selected the fabric because it ties the dining room wall color in with the kitchen’s more cornflower-blue accents,” says Benedict.
As for Leibole’s favorite shade of green, “It can be difficult to find furnishings in the Kelly green color used throughout the house,” says Benedict. “Debbie did a lot of legwork on her own.” One of Leibole’s scores was the front hall’s green rug etched with interlocking white diamonds, bought at Nigohsian Carpet & Rug in Needham. To match the nylon rug, the shades on the adjacent console table’s Restoration Hardware lamps were custom painted.
Benedict finished up the installation just in time — the day before the kitchen tour. Not only did the house dazzle during the event, the interiors have been a comfort to the family ever since. “The tour was a great impetus for us to think about the interior design of our home,” says Leibole. “It truly feels like a reflection of who we are and how we live.
Jaci Conry is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.