For , a bold approach to color has always come naturally. “At age 11, I was given carte blanche to decorate my room. I put a yellow shag carpet on the floor and wallpapered the ceiling,” recalls the TV host, author, and newly minted decorator. So when she and her family traded in their colorful Brooklyn brownstone for a circa-1900 Connecticut country house, Brown set out to transform it into an equally vivid setting.
Armed with her trusty briefcase of paint swatches and a knack for finding thrift-store gems, Brown created rooms that prove just how livable even the boldest color combinations can be. Her family agrees: “When my daughters have friends over, they’re really proud that their house is a big statement!”
The family room's gutsy palette began with the wall color. “I knew I wanted to use my go-to red in the family room—I’ve used it almost everywhere I’ve lived," says Brown. "And when a friend suggested I paint the ceiling purple, I thought, Why not? My mom had an orange ceiling in our dining room, so I guess I’m used to bright hues. When I gave the painter the colors, he called me to ask if I’d made a mistake!”
Buttercup yellow brightened up the rustic living room. “To me, it feels like faded gentry," Brown explains. "I’m imagining a parlor in an old hotel, where everyone gathers to have a glass of whiskey. The Drexel chairs were from my brownstone in Brooklyn, and I actually found that rug at a garage sale! You can create a lot of different moods in this room: During the day, it’s a happy yellow; at night, with the re going, it’s like a cozy lodge.”
In the master bedroom, the decor is "a bit more disciplined, but still colorful," says the designer. "That subtle aquamarine on the ceiling is so nice to wake up to." Hand-me-down furniture, tucked behind a curtain, was given new life: "The coffee table was my parents’, as was the Baker sofa, which I had re-covered in a Crypton fabric. In a big, rambling house like this, I like having little nooks, so we use a curtain to separate the sitting area from the sleeping area.”
The guest room's vivid red floor was actually a happy accident. “This is what I mean when I talk about your house being a conversation: When we pulled up the wall-to-wall carpet in the guest room, we discovered a red-painted floor underneath—how lucky is that?" says Brown. "I love the red against the electric Pratt & Lambert Vivid Blue we used on the walls and ceiling. For the textiles, I chose a sort of Bloomsbury mix of patterns and stripes. I wanted everything to seem like it had been there for a long time.”
Up in the third-floor bunk room, electric paint gives way to a blank canvas. “I went with all white for once—can you believe it?" Brown laughs. "It’s such a bright and sunny space, it’s like you’re in a cloud. My daughters love hosting sleepovers up there, and it’s great for when my nieces and nephews come to visit. I’m very competitive about being the best aunt!”