A Rural Connecticut Farmhouse That's Full of Life

Think a natural palette is dull or boring? Think again!

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Think a natural palette is dull or boring? Think again! Thanks to earthy textures, woven accents, extensive collections (hello, white pottery!), and subtle pops of blue and green, this rural Connecticut home is full of life.
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Neutral Territory
Ingrid Leess wears a lot of hats: She does interior design work; designs her own lampshades; hunts down bargain finds for clients; scours flea markets for antiques to refurbish; and makes custom artwork. If asked to define what she does, however, Ingrid would say she's more of a collector than anything else. "I like to pick things whenever I see them and mix them in over time," she says. The lived-in, layered style of her own New Canaan, Connecticut, farmhouse, which she describes as her "decorating lab," reflects this approach.
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Kitchen
What makes it possible for Ingrid to switch around her stuff on a whim is the neutral, decidedly country base she and husband Mark Larmee created when they bought the farmhouse nearly 30 years ago. Almost every wall in the house, including those covered with barn-inspired board-and-batten paneling, is painted the same shade of white, and most of the furniture is covered in white or neutral linen.
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Dining Nook
The designer's home is filled with subtle pops of green and blue, like the indigo print breakfast nook pillows in her kitchen, which the couple remodeled in 2010. As part of the overhaul, she took down a wall that divided it from the adjacent dining room, added windows, and installed lots of reclaimed wood shelves. By the sink, she keeps dishware, bread boards, and potted herbs in view and within reach; on each side of her breakfast nook, she displays her collection of blue and green demijohn bottles.
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Sitting Room
A giant fiddle-leaf fig tree thrives in Ingrid's den.
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Artwork
"Collecting little paintings and drawings gives me freedom to move things around," says Ingrid of her small-scale artwork.
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Ikaroo
Living Room
"I start off with white to make each room as light as possible, then I bring in textures to add dimension," Ingrid explains. In her living room, for example, wool blankets and fluffy flokati throws in creamy off-white shades add softness, while rustic wood accents—a round mirror, the three-legged stool—and a stone fireplace ground the space with earthy elements.
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Pottery Collection
Even many of Ingrid's accessories are white, such as her vast collection of pottery on display in the living room. "As a ceramics major in college, I started collecting white pottery," she says. "The wall with the collection is more dynamic than it might seem, thanks to the pieces' different shapes, shades, and eras."
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Stairway
How smart is this? To create the look of planked walls without the hassle or expense, Ingrid drew horizontal lines with pencil in the stairwell.
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Bedroom
Patterned textiles (many of them vintage) also add dimension to the light, bright spaces, like the master bedroom's mélange of blue-and-white prints. Although she mixed multiple patterns—windowpane plaid, vertical and horizontal stripes—the effect is still subdued, thanks to the consistent palette. "I like to stick to either one color or one motif," says Ingrid. "I think it's safe to say there's a stripe of some sort in every room."
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Ingrid Leess
Amid all her swapping out of this and that, one thing remains constant: Ingrid's steadfast approach to layering—be it stripe on stripe or small painting propped up against large line drawing or everyday white pottery that takes on serious decorative heft when grouped together. "Working with neutrals gives me license to be more creative and really pile it on," she says. "Country is one look where more is definitely more."
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