Margie Garland had the MacKenzie-Childs Thistle chandelier on her computer wish list for years. Multicolored and funky with glass-beaded fringe on its shades, it would never have worked in the ancient farmhouses she had previously lived in.
But it would feel right at home in the new house she was building in the center of Ligonier, a suburb of Pittsburgh, especially if it had equally colorful companions to play with.
So she did it. She painted the walls of every room the same bright hues she loved in the chandelier. Garland’s house was one of five stops on the 10th anniversary Ligonier Home Tour. Residents were curious to see the inside of this Neotraditional house.
On the outside, it’s old-school traditional with a balanced design, red-brick walls and crisp white trim. But the inside is much more open than most Colonials. Its central staircase allows Garland’s two boys and two dogs plenty of room to run.
“I offset the chandelier and the rug so people wouldn’t bump into the table in the dining room,” she said.
A centerpiece that’s not in the center? The amateur designer feared she had broken a cardinal red rule.
“Colonials are supposed to be symmetrical. I thought, ‘Oh, my God! What have I done?’ ”
But it fit her family’s lifestyle, and that’s one of the keys to new urbanism and neotraditional style. Greg Green and R. Mark Rust of Montgomery & Rust, a design-build firm that adapted plans Garland had found in Southern Living, worked with her on the project.
But the two architects weren’t involved in color selections. That was Garland’s idea. She started with a Valspar shade called Couture in the dining room. Next came an almost neon green that greets visitors at the front door. Garland picked it first for the mudroom, which has green wallpaper with blue dots. Designer Lynn Butz encouraged her to use it again in the front hall. When Garland had her doubts, she found support in a surprising place.
“Whenever I had carpenters in the house, they really liked it,” she said, laughing.
The kitchen sports white cabinetry and “a Swedish blue,” Garland said. She used the same pecan-colored granite on the counter tops and in the fireplace surround in the living room. Most of the furniture came from the Amish Peddler in New Wilmington, Penn. Armstrong hickory flooring runs throughout the first floor.
“These features provide a neutral background that allow the colors to pop,” according to Garland.
They really do pop. Even her kids think so.
“They said, ‘Mom, people are going to think you’re an artist!’ ”
No, not an artist. Just someone who isn’t afraid to live with color.
“Since Western Pennsylvania is so cloudy, I wanted to take advantage of every bit of light,” she said.