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Outside: A lush greenbelt. Inside: An array of bright colors. Result: The perfect place for a young Dallas family.

By Joanna Linberg
February 20, 2021
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Friends don't let friends decorate with gray—at least not if you're Kerri Goldfarb and Mia Brous (the designers behind the hit home boutique Madre in Dallas) and your friend is Katie Aisner.

"I love color. It makes me happy, and it's family friendly," Aisner says. Good thing: She and her husband, David, have four kids, ages 3 to 11, and they aren't shy about brights. When they lucked into the neighborhood of their dreams—the 1931 brick home sits on a lush greenbelt—Aisner called on Goldfarb and Brous to modernize the choppy layout and turn the dial up on the decor.

1931 Brick Home on lush lawn
Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

"Because she's a friend, we knew how to capture what works for her family," Brous says. Mostly, that meant adding more ways to enjoy the outdoors, including installing the steel-and-glass doors at the back entrance for easier access and to let in more of the view. Seven wide archways between the ground-floor rooms capitalize on natural light.

Color was the key to linking the spaces. The designers set a bold sage-based scheme in the formal living room, layering aubergine, gold, hot pink, and cobalt on top. They remixed it in the kitchen, where cornflower blue steps up as the star with green accents. And so it went throughout the lower level. It might have overwhelmed if not for the way they alternated rooms with white walls and those with vibrant tones or patterns.

That balance means the family never tires of the rich palette. In fact, during the pressure test of the COVID-19 lockdown last spring, Aisner made a point to text Goldfarb and Brous: "I'm so, so happy with my house!"

Piling it on takes a deft touch. Thankfully, Goldfarb and Brous spilled their secrets for filling a home with cheery hues.

Entry hall with stairwell
Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Make a Power Play

The small front entrance (originally the back door) prompted Goldfarb and Brous to pull out all the stops to give it a memorable identity. Whimsical botanical wallpaper (Woodland Carpet by Trustworth Studios) delivered. "The entry paper captures most of the colors in the home," Brous says. They plucked a seafoam green from the design to coat the baseboards and molding for an extra layer of polish.

Teal grasscloth walls with accents of pink
“We wanted a fancier sofa in the formal living room,” Brous says, “but we played it down by having it be a similar color to the wall versus contrasting. It makes it feel more enveloping.”
| Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Dive Into the Details

"We layer a lot, and it shows in the living room," Goldfarb says. "Wallpaper is one layer; color, texture, and scale of patterns are others." In that quest for more, they rely on small gestures: the shift in textures between the grass cloth wall and velvet sofa, the sage grosgrain-ribbon trim topped with nailheads outlining the aubergine armchairs, and the contrasting pillow welts. The goal isn't a rigid palette but unexpected combos with zip. "Think of the color wheel and what hues complement each other," Goldfarb says. "If you're looking at lavender, orange might make it come to life."

Light blue wall room with antique dresser and botanical prints hung above
Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Botanicals are a classic back-pocket art choice to fill a blank wall. Aisner describes her style as slightly traditional; the antique dresser and the grid formation of the floral display above it are nods to that.

Family room with white walls and bold color furniture
The pale celadon gourd lamps didn’t match the palette, but the more tones the better. “Putting in something that’s unexpected and different is good too,” Goldfarb says.
| Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Start with Surfaces

"When I envision a home, I decorate from the outside in," Goldfarb says. "What are the walls, the floors, and the ceilings? Then I go from there. This way, spaces with individual identities flow together rather than compete." The white walls and glossy wood-paneled ceiling in the family room (adjoining the wallpapered living room) freed her to drop the bulk of the color on the seating.

Bright sunroom with rattan furniture with green cushions and orange curtains
Outdoor-rated armchairs and an indoor-outdoor rug endure all the kids’ playing and spills.
| Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Watch One Fabric Reign

After dividing the large family room by function, the designers generously deployed a leafy green fabric on the sunroom side to give it a distinct look. "Using one fabric makes it cohesive," Brous says. "Even though it's open, it's defined because it coordinates." Rattan seating emphasizes the point.

Card table in white room with orange curtains and white chairs
Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Let Love Guide You

Solid ivory curtains? Not for Aisner. "Orange is one of my favorite colors, so the drapes were our splurge," she says. "I had my heart set on them." To accent that choice, Goldfarb and Brous opted for lighter pieces with modern silhouettes, like a custom cerused oak card table.

White kitchen with blue island and blue lanterns
Rattan and plastic combine into an easy-to-wipe-down barstool that bumps up the texture in the room.
| Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Take a Breather

The tide of color ebbs a bit in the kitchen, where white walls (Sherwin-Williams' Alabaster, SW 7008) and cabinetry offer a visual break from the brighter hues used elsewhere. "A kitchen creates its own clutter, so it's nice to keep the look clean," Brous says.

Sitting area with white walls and four arm chairs with blue accents
Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Keep the Focus on the View

The kitchen's sitting area is all about what's outside the walls: the greenbelt. So Goldfarb and Brous blanketed the furnishings and windows in tone-on-tone blues with a touch of sage to marry it to the nearby rooms. "I sit here early in the morning and feel so grateful that I have this family and this house and get to look out on the pretty green space," says Aisner. "It's my happy place."

Girls bedroom with light blue walls and pops of pink in accent fabrics
Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Pick Forever Fabrics

"Do it once and do it well, so you can carry it with you," Goldfarb says. The dusty-pink floral that shines in Aisner's now 7-year-old daughter's bedroom came directly from her nursery in a previous home. Here, they filled in with blue accents to boost that aspect of the print.

Girls bedroom with purple walls, pillows, and lampshade against a green fabric headboard
Lime green pom-pom trim on the otherwise basic white shade adds a touch of playfulness that’s just right for a young girl.
| Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Invest in This One Designer Trick

Goldfarb and Brous say a room isn't finished until you zhuzh up the lampshade. It's their favorite way to take a look to the next level. Full pleated shades (like the ones in Aisner's youngest daughter's room) are the gold standard, but the designers are just as likely to wrap a paper shade in remnant fabric, apply a bit of material to the top and bottom as trim, or do the same with ribbon. Count Aisner as a fan. These shades—along with the headboard and shams—were done for her previous home's guest room. She liked them so much that she made sure they found a place here.

White bathroom with blue window seat between sinks
Credit: Alison Gootee; Styling: Jenny O'Connor

Dive Into the Details

A classic all-white palette was the starting point for the boys' shared bath. For a subtle edge, the designers covered the window seat with a playful Quadrille geometric fabric and installed a pair of industrial sconces (by Visual Comfort & Co.) directly on top of the wall-to-wall mirrors.