Located in McLean, Virginia, just minutes from Washington, D.C., the new Southern Accents showhouse calls to mind an old stone farmhouse that has been expanded over time. Designer David H. Mitchell brought the spaces to life, channeling a color palette that links the interior with the landscape. Come along for a tour of Mitchell's handiwork, "a traditionally furnished house that doesn't feel old and stodgy."
"I brought the outdoors into the room," says Mitchell. "The palette is based on things from the natural world, such as birds, grass, and sky." A seating area defined by a leaf-green rug floats in the middle of the room, and pale green walls, glass accents, and organic motifs give the space a dreamy atmosphere. Cotton fabrics and approachable furniture forms reflect the farmhouse flavor. "A living room should be comfortable," he says. "There are no chairs in here that people are afraid to sit on."
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Paneled walls with a weathered finish give this room a refined feeling. Decorative artists added a mural of native Virginia songbirds. "It's like a slightly folksy version of formal scenic wallpaper," says Mitchell. An oval pedestal table centers the space, surrounded by comfortable chairs. A striking landscape hangs over the sideboard. "The whole room is like a painting, so I chose only one piece of art to make a big impact," Mitchell says. "A dining room is about the chairs, the walls, and the chandelier."
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As one of the showhouse's more casual spaces, the richly colored family room is ideal for relaxation and entertaining. Tones of gold and rusty red accent the teal-tinted walls. "It's a square room with a peaked ceiling," says Mitchell, who has always wanted to take on such a space. Placed on opposite walls, the fireplace and television provide alternate focal points. A lush wool rug imparts subtle softness. French doors open onto the garden and terrace, making the room a pavilion for large parties.
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"This is a cook's kitchen," says Mitchell, who chose stainless steel, butcher block, and honed granite to distinguish the work areas. Tall windows at each end of the room let in plenty of natural light. The cabinets feature a distressed finish, which "plays off the other painted finishes in the house," says Mitchell. The breakfast area, with its trestle table and generous chairs, can seat a large family and guests. A deep window seat provides a lounging spot, while a server holds china for display and easy access.
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The master suite encourages a healthy balance of priorities. "The wall color doesn't exactly match anything in this room, and because of that, it makes everything stand out," says Mitchell. A draped bed buffers the hectic outside world. Twin chaises offer respite, and a desk serves as a handy work surface. "People often don't put as much effort into decorating the bedroom, because they think they don't live in it," says Mitchell. "But I can see kids relaxing here with their parents, reading or watching television."
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In the library, Mitchell created a cozy, masculine retreat that doesn't follow the men's club cliché. "This room has a different personality than the rest of the house," says Mitchell. "I used chocolate brown leather on the walls. It gives the room a fresh twist." White oak paneling with a gray wax finish lends warmth without the heaviness of dark wood. Comfy furniture and the room's location -- central, but removed from the action of the house -- make it a natural gathering place.
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"I wanted this room to have an easy, country feeling, but be versatile enough for a male or female guest," says Mitchell. An oak leaf print fabric covers the walls, giving the room a restful feeling, while the headboard's enclosing wings add another layer of insulation. A rustic-looking desk outfitted with stationery provides an old-fashioned note of civility, and delicate glass accents set the stage to welcome a close friend or relative. "A guest room should never be overdone," says the designer. "It should be about your guests."
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