Date: December 3, 2019 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Lauren Cerrato |
Mara Malcolm updates a Little Rock family’s den to add both comfort and style
When Melody and Judge Chris Piazza asked friend and designer Mara Malcolm to update their home’s family room, she knew it would have to feature elements that catered to the smallest member of the family: the couple’s beloved pug, Pete. “I know how much they love Pete, so when I began designing I put a picture of him on the mood board. He is fawn, gray, and black, and honestly everything just came organically from his coat—and they loved it,” Mara says.
Of course, while they loved the reference to Pete, the room also had to feel good to the couple, who recently became empty nesters. “They have very busy schedules, so this needed to be a place where they could truly be comfortable,” Mara says of the “fresh but not too formal” approach. “This is a room that feels as good as it looks—and it wears well,” she adds, pointing to plush carpet underfoot and an abundance of upholstered pieces.
For the transformation, Mara updated paneled walls with gray paint. “The paneling was beautiful, and that’s something I would normally keep, but even after cleaning it, there was an orange tint that couldn’t be removed,” the designer says. Working with the new neutral base, chairs and a sofa in a range of colors and coordinating patterns were selected to provide plenty of seating. Mara also infused the space with polished accessories, meaningful art, and a happy purple hue—seen most vividly on the tufted ottoman, which coordinates with the style of the Chesterfield sofa. “I don’t like predictability in design. I like juxtaposition of color and style and finishes. When done well, I think it adds interest and character and helps a space feel curated,” Mara says.
“This is a room that feels as good as it looks—and it wears well.”—Mara Malcolm, designer
“The carpet is a huge part of why this room feels so good,” Mara says. She initially considered wood, but felt you couldn’t get the same comfort underfoot. The transitional print blends with the room’s mix of modern and traditional.
All About Balance
Mara says that even in rooms with cool palettes, she likes to add warmth with a variety of pillows. The animal print option is what she calls “a hint of the unexpected.”
Patterns and finishes abound in the room, and the hardware on the new built-in is no exception. A floral motif coordinates with the mix of geometric fabrics while also speaking to the numerous finishes seen in the space.
A range of grays, including the custom wall color, draperies, and hardware blend together harmoniously. “I like to use a solid fabric that is close to the wall color for draperies when possible,” Mara says. “It’s a great way to free up room in the budget for beautiful trim (like the Greek Key option here) and rods.”
Interior design Mara Lamb Malcolm, Lamb’s Interior Design Accessories, art, and furniture Lamb’s Interior Design Carpet Arnold’s Flooring America Fabrics Designer Effects Hardware PC Hardware Lighting Light InnovationsMillwork Gary Corum Painting Pete Johnson, Johnson Painting Window coverings Linda McNeill