Calming Influences

Decorated with the cultural influences of Asia in mind, the home of Chume and Trent Bertrand speaks a universal language.
Majella Chube Hamilton

By design, the rooms of this Great Falls, Virginia, residence put you at the center of a peaceful environment. They incorporate hints of natural elements--earth, water, wind, and fire. In them you'll find the soothing effects of trees, rich earth tones, elaborate woodcarvings, and furnishings accented with flowing curves.

The homeowners, Chume and Trent Bertrand, met and married in Bangkok in the early 1980s. He was a visiting professor at Thammasat University; she was a student working part-time at an art gallery. Eleven years ago, they moved back to the States and began making changes to their new home.

Along with their teenage daughters, the couple gains positive energy from the natural connections within their home. "Serenity and calm reflect the comfortable feeling we experience here," says Trent. "Chume has an eye for blending the modern comforts of the West with the traditions of her native Thailand."

"Working with Chume has taught me how to be sensitive to her culture," says interior designer Daniel Nichols.

Color and Placement

When asked whether the decorating principles Chume uses represent age-old beliefs similar to new design trends like feng shui, Daniel responds, "We may know it as feng shui, but it's been practiced for many centuries in Asia. A lesson for us is that there is meaning behind the placement of things."

The first objective was to establish a calming spectrum of color. "In the living room, I used shades of sage green, which gives a feeling of contentment," explains Chume.

Next, they set out to place the family's extensive collection of worldly statues. "Some of the pieces came from Thailand, Africa, Tibet, Bhutan, India, and China," Trent says.

Chume found just the right spaces among camel-shaped sofas, armoires, arched entryways, and marble-like columns. All are enhanced by walnut wood floors and soft lighting.

"We've blended traditions," Chume adds, "to achieve an atmosphere close to nature that is central in Asian beliefs."