Historic Sylvan Park bungalow gets balance with bold colors and patterns

By Hollie Deese
Photography by Reagen Taylor

When they needed someone to renovate their 1930s-era Sylvan Park cottage, a couple didn’t even have to look outside their neighborhoo.

Erika Thompson, who then was a designer with the interior design firm JL Design, helped the homeowners work through their redesign room by room until eventually the entire home was done.

“They knew what they wanted, but they were also very trusting with the vision and the process,” Thompson says. “We developed that trust from the first couple of rooms that I worked on with them, and then it was a dream job because they made it so easy.”

It also helped that the homeowners were not opposed to wild pops of color, patterns or prints, like the orange-patterned wallpaper in the entryway—actually one of the first design choices they made.

“That set the tone for the kind of fun and funk that we wanted to bring throughout the home,” she says. “And it showed me they were on board with color and pattern. They had a bold bision about when people first come into your home, what do you want it to really say?”

The juxtaposition of fun with the historic nature of the home was where Thompson says they found livable balance. “We were really trying to balance some of that original character but also bring in some of their personality and some more interest.”

Thompson says when they started the project the couple had no children, but they knew they were coming and designed accordingly. Today, they have two little ones, a boy and a girl, and together they all enjoy the large, covered outdoor space and basement buildout with extra closets.

“It’s so helpful to live somewhere for a little bit before starting renovations,” she says. “I know everybody wants everything done to move in, and I can do that for you, but I just know the value of living with a space for a while and how your perception of that space will change. Because it will. So if you want it done now, let’s make it adaptable. Let’s make it so that it can shift along with your needs.”

Thompson encourages all families to embrace color and pattern. For this family, that meant it was okay to paint a brick wall bright Kelly green, then carry hints of it throughout the rest of the home’s design.

“We looked at such fun patterns and colors, and we really made sure that in each space, as you’re walking through, there’s still that element of fun and the unexpected—something surprising in this little cottage house.”

She encourages her clients to design in a way that makes them feel like the best version of themselves in their space. “The super-monochromatic, no-color palette seems like it is taking a back seat. People want more interest, they want something that inspires them.”

For some people that will mean a totally serene environment, while for others it would be décor that stokes their creativity.

“I think people are finally realizing that it is important to feel like your home is an expression of yourself and not necessarily a blank slate that looks pretty,” Thompson says. “They want it to really inspire them and have their personality infused in it. I think that’s what everyone wants.”