Designer Ellen Kavanaugh takes us inside her bright and beautiful Wellington home.
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It felt like home when interior designer Ellen Kavanaugh first set eyes on this run-of-the-mill ranch in Wellington, Florida. She and husband Chip Valle of Island Construction are always on the hunt for fixer-uppers and found the ideal project in the even proportions and bungalow-style architecture of this house that's just under 2,500 square feet. But it was more than good bones that hooked Kavanaugh. The Old Florida charmer was remarkably similar to her childhood home, lending an instant air of nostalgia to the restoration the couple was about to begin. They were under no illusions: Compromises would have to be made to work within the original footprint. But with a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore Simply White (OC-117), which Kavanaugh deems "the perfect shade of white," on nearly every wall, the place was primed for her signature take on color. From there, she injected statement-making hues and meaningful design elements to create a space that's cheery, comfortable, and filled with memories. "There's no particular style. It's family heirlooms, the combination of the old and new," she says. "I wanted the house to feel warm and just kept coming back to holding onto this traditional look—and I'm glad I did."

Ellen Kavanaugh's Pink Ranch House in Florida
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason

Think Pink

The exterior, painted in Benjamin Moore Sheer Pink (894, cut 50%), was given a toned-down twist when Kavanaugh finished the shutters in a black-green powder coat.

Bright Entry with Limewash Cyprus Ceiling
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason; Rug: Courtesy Heir Looms Vintage Rugs

Revamp Floor to Ceiling

Kavanaugh was eager to do away with the popcorn ceilings found throughout the house, but the entry needed something special. She defined the space with a clear cypress ceiling with a limewash finish, a gift from her father who owns Florida Cypress Wood Products.

White Living Room with Pink Sofa and Chairs
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Design: Ellen Kavanaugh; Styling: Matthew Gleason

Celebrate Old-School Charm

"We were thinking about opening up all the walls and realized we kind of liked the separate living room," says Kavanaugh. They kept the walls intact and let the playful sofa (upholstered in Michael Szell for Christopher Farr Cloth Peonies in Hot Pink) and Paul T. Frankl rattan chairs do the heavy lifting. "I wanted the area to just seem collected with no specific style," she says. Feeling nostalgic for a time when gathering for dinner was a daily occasion and cocktail hour was a given, they decided to keep the space electronics free. "When we're in the living room, we're going to have a conversation and focus on each other," says Kavanaugh.

White Dining Room with Pink Accents
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason; Painting: Courtesy Corey Mason/Brintz Gallery

Treasure the Details

The dining room, which opens into the living room, needed to play off the pink tones of the sitting area. They added ceiling beams for architectural interest and scoured eBay for antique chairs that they painted chalk white for what she calls "a cheap and cheerful dining-chair solution." But if you ask Kavanaugh, the real star of the space might be the silver candelabra from their wedding. "I use that even if we're just having a casual dinner," she says.

Bright White Kitchen with L-shaped Peninsula
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason

Embrace Creative Solutions

Working within the kitchen's small space required a total reimagining. They chose a Sub-Zero refrigerator column and skipped the freezer but went for the 48-inch Wolf range (no need for a vent hood thanks to an adjacent wall of sliding doors). The mix of flat-front and Shaker-style panel drawers and doors keeps the room classic and clean while two sets of open mahogany shelves deliver custom furniture-like details above.

Bright White Kitchen and Breakfast Table
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason

Open for the Season

With Wellington's average highs hovering in the upper 70s through the winter, taking advantage of the mild weather with a wall of sliding doors leading to the pool and patio was a simple choice. During the warmer months, they crank up the exterior ceiling fans and continue soaking up the sun and fresh air. "It just provides a casual ease of living," says Kavanaugh.

Family Room with White Walls and Blue Carpet
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason; Lamps: Courtesy Massimo Frank Lighting

Keep It Real and Relaxed  

What was once a dark and dated family room was refreshed with a coat of paint (Simply White on the walls and stone fireplace and Super White, PM-1, on the ceiling, both by Benjamin Moore). The space's blank canvas allows Kavanaugh to swap out accessories on a whim, including the dark blue rug that's optimal for hiding muddy paw prints left behind by the couple's two dogs, Sunny Bear and Trooper. "It's good to be practical; that way, you can just live in your home and not have to worry about it," she advises.

Dark Green Mudroom
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason

Welcome a Second Act

Kavanaugh was set on turning the laundry room into a mudroom but knew it would come with a few concessions. "When you're renovating, you're not creating a new house," she explains. "You have to be able to compromise." Once the appliances were relocated to the garage, she doused the space in a bold and easy-to-clean satin paint (Benjamin Moore Garden Cucumber, 644) and floral wallpaper (Rebecca Atwood Blooms in Soft Green) with a vintage-inspired hexagon tile underfoot. The new space acts as a hybrid, featuring everything from a morning coffee bar to a pullout drawer for dog food and a sink for arranging flowers.

Primary Bedroom with Canopy Bed and Light Blue Ceiling
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason

Play Up the Blues

"I'll admit it: I've always wanted a canopy bed," says Kavanaugh. To her relief, Valle was on board. She kept the walls the same Simply White found throughout the rest of the house but painted the ceiling a pale blue—Benjamin Moore Breath of Fresh Air (806, cut 75%).

Twin Bedroom with Blue Details and Limewashed Cyprus Ceiling
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason

Strike a Soothing Balance

Antique mirrors from Kofski Estate Sales were hung above a set of upholstered twin beds. Kavanaugh crowned the room with the same limewashed cedar ceiling found in the entry to tie the spaces together.

Powder Bathroom with Chinoiserie Paneled Walls
Credit: Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason

Pair Pretty with Practical

Loving the look of chinoiserie in a powder bath, Kavanaugh opted for wallpaper panels that appear hand-painted but were much more budget-friendly. The ceiling's cool tone (Benjamin Moore Blue Allure, 771) subtly highlights the Maysong Spring design by The Mural Source.