8 Fresh Decorating Resolutions

No. 1 Pull Out a Bold Accent Color
Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Designer Ashley Whittaker energizes a Florida town house with 8 decorating resolutions you can make—and actually keep!

01 of 09

A Fresh Start

A Fresh Start
Photo: Eric Piasecki; Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Growing up in the coastal town of Gulf Stream, Florida, where pink houses and Lilly Pulitzer fabrics are de rigueur, designer Ashley Whittaker cultivated an obsession with punchy, playful hues. So when some family friends decided to relocate from Columbus, Ohio, to a British Colonial town house in her own hometown, they knew she was the one to call. Ashley, who has spent the past 20 years building her design business in Manhattan, was more than happy to revisit the sunny palettes and prints of her formative years.

"We wanted to create a really fun environment for the couple's next phase of life in Florida," says Ashley. To lighten—and brighten—things up, she added a white-painted wainscot, a tropical cocktail-hued palette, and a collection of vibrant patterns throughout the house. The mix embodies Ashley's eight decorating resolutions for the New Year, proving there's no time like the present to try something new.

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Designer: Ashley Whittaker; ashleywhittakerdesign.com.

02 of 09

No. 1 Pull Out a Bold Accent Color

No. 1 Pull Out a Bold Accent Color
Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, Ashley splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. "We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home," says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.

Small Change, Big Difference Create a focal point with an oversize lantern. This can also lend a more intimate feel to rooms with lofty ceilings.

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Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin's Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

03 of 09

No. 2 Embrace an Eclectic Mix

No. 2 Embrace an Eclectic Mix
Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Step inside the house's foyer and it's easy to see the homeowners' decorating style is all about the mix—old with new, dark with light, color with—well—color. Case in point: Ashley's globe-trotting, cross-cultural mash-up of a white, carved Moroccan mirror; subdued antique demilune table; and Chinese porcelain pottery. The classic blue-and-white scheme anchors the space, while a mercury glass lamp adds a bit of glint.

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Wallcovering: Harwood Leaf Green by Colefax and Fowler, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

04 of 09

No. 3 Swap Dated and Dingy for Classic and Clean

No. 3 Swap Dated and Dingy for Classic and Clean
Photo: Eric Piasecki

The dreary kitchen scored a total makeover with a few easy cosmetic fixes. Ashley repainted Brady Bunch-era cabinets with her favorite white, Benjamin Moore's Mountain Peak White, and added nickel hardware. She traded other dated surfaces for marble countertops and an icy blue tile backsplash.

05 of 09

No. 4 Give Your Dining Room a Splash of Bold Color

Give a Splash of Bold Color
Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

The homeowners wanted to have a fresh, bright dining room, so Ashley helped them pick a showstopping lettuce green shade for the shiny lacquered walls and then kicked it up a notch with bright coral upholstered dining chairs. Painted lantern sconces and a sleek, four-arm, unlacquered brass chandelier play off the casual mood established by the sweet/tart color scheme.

Small Change, Big Difference Upholster dining room chair backs with a small-scale print in a coordinating fabric so your chairs look good from all angles.

Small Change, Big Difference Paint dining room walls with a high-gloss finish. At night, they reflect candlelight and add a sense of drama to the space.

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Chair fabric (back):
Volpi (custom colorway) by Quadrille. Wall paint: Young Wheat; pantone.com.

06 of 09

No. 5 Layer Neutrals for a Comfy Retreat

No. 5 Layer Neutrals for a Comfy Retreat
Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

In the den, where comfort was the clients' top request, Ashley's palette took a warm turn. She started with a base of natural texture by using grass cloth on the walls to add interest and finish without overpowering the room with pattern or color. The Belgian linen-covered sofa, soft ticking-striped upholstered club chairs, and pale diamond-patterned rug create a neutral backdrop for a few well-placed hits of bold coral red, such as the pair of accent lamps and an oversize crane print.

Small Change, Big Difference Consider lining the back of built-in bookcases with a faux-bois wallcovering to give an unexpected hint of subtle pattern.

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Wallcovering: West Falkland by Elizabeth Dow, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575. Wallcovering (bookcase): Chene by Nobilis, available through DDB; 212/759-5408, ext. 204. Console table: custom; vintagebamboorattan.com. Artwork: Lord Turnbull's Ornithological Study of Red Bird; mecox.com.

07 of 09

No. 6 Up the Cozy Factor with Wallpaper

No. 6 Up the Cozy Factor with Wallpaper
Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

In the 20- by 18-foot primary bedroom, Ashley covered the walls with a large-scale, blue-and-green flowering-tree motif. The dense pattern makes the large room feel more snug, while the crisp white headboard, lamps, and bedding give the eye a place to rest.

Small Change, Big Difference Make a strong, graphic statement in a light and airy space with a sunburst mirror in a gilded finish.

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Wallcovering: Malabar Coast in Seafoam by Brunschwig & Fils, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

08 of 09

No. 7 Make a Big Statement in a Small Space

No. 7 Make a Big Statement in a Small Space
Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Think of powder rooms like jewel boxes, advises Ashley, who clad the walls of this one with an intricate yet large-scale, coral-patterned wallcovering. "It's such a small space, so you can really get away with a lot of pattern," she says. "You might not want to see 300 square feet of a bold print, but in a small powder room it's the epitome of chic."

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Wallcovering (fabric): Sea Scroll Kelp by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

09 of 09

No. 8 Indulge a Utilitarian Room with Whimsy

No. 8 Indulge a Utilitarian Room with Whimsy
Photo: Eric Piasecki; Design: Ashley Whittaker; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Just because it's a workspace, that doesn't mean the laundry room has to be plain and boring. "You spend a lot of time in there, so why not make it pretty and fun?" says Ashley, who livened up this one with a pagoda-style lantern and a tropical-print wallpaper, which is a classic Florida touch. Because this room is exposed to more moisture, Ashley chose a paper that has a glossy vinyl coating—that's right, vinyl—to protect it from water damage.

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Wallcovering: Bamboo & Birds Beige by Bob Collins and Sons; bobcollinsandsons.com for retailers.

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