The foyer provides the first clue that this isn’t an average townhome renovation.
The wallpaper, for starters, features an elegant Art Nouveau-meets-psychedelia print, hand-screened on silver mylar.
The pattern in the wallcovering dances off the panels of a multifaceted mirror crowning an original console from the “House of Tomorrow,” a sensation at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. In a corner, a colorful tower by Omaha artist Justin Beller provides a playful twist.
Versailles, with a touch of Modern Baroque.
But what’s that across the way, on a table in the living room? A tree branch arcing ever so elegantly in a tall glass vase.
Welcome to the art of high-low decorating and the Dorothy Draper dictum, “If it looks right, it is right,” from the team of Maison MxM, or Mark and Mikal Eckstrom.
But this isn’t a story about them.
“It’s about me, mostly,” says the homeowner, who hired her longtime friends to help her create a living space that marked a change of lifestyle, from single mom to empty-nester.
The homeowner, who asked to be anonymous, is fiftysomething and the mother of a recent college graduate. She works full time in education and has a dog, a gregarious personality and eclectic interests. Among them: rock ’n’ roll, all things Parisian, gourmet cooking, pop culture, cinematography and fine art. She has a plethora of friends, whom she enjoys having over for cocktails and dinner. But she also embraces her downtime. Her home is her sanctuary.
The Eckstroms were enlisted as project managers and designers for the townhome makeover. The entire unit was gutted, but the kitchen, great room and walk-out patio underwent the most significant transformations to accommodate the homeowner’s lifestyle.
“This is a place where I can come and go easily,” the homeowner says. The footprint of the single-level townhome is manageable for one person; association fees cover snow removal, window washing, gutter cleaning, yardwork and other general maintenance.
The Eckstroms have a distinct philosophy. “Everything should be able to move into a different room and look like it belongs there,” says Mark. “Sometimes surprising combinations result in the process.”
Knowing their client well gave the duo a jump on decorating for her personality. “The décor mixes bling, Parisian salon, rock ’n’ roll and Nouveau to Deco influences,” says Mark.
Walls painted in a “very French” custom gray provide a neutral backdrop for a regal palette inspired by a blue peacock that strutted across the front yard in the trio’s early design discussions. “It was an omen,” the homeowner says. On the heels of that sighting, the townhome was dubbed Le Paon, French for peacock.
The wall paint – Maison Gray – shifts in intensity as natural light spills into the living area from windows to the courtyard.
Teal greets you at the door and is used as accent throughout the studied interior.
A tumbling block pattern meets itself coming and going in each space as well.
Surrealism, cubism and the female form dominate art and photography.
Furnishings and accessories are meticulously arranged. “Every tableau tells a story,” says Mikal.
In one example, a black cowhide Louis XIV bergère chair is nested against a folding screen that Maison MxM customized with wallpaper in a multicolored prism design called “Circus” by Cole & Son.
In the living room, symmetry prevails in conversation areas created with pairs of back-to-back velvet sofas with chrome nail heads inspired by those in Coco Chanel’s salon, vintage Murano glass lamps, teal leather club chairs, papier-mâché drums from artisans in Haiti, custom upholstered poufs and vintage coffee tables. And then there’s that unexpected tabletop accent, the branch in the tall vase.
The courtyard, with access from the living room, is an extension of the home.
“This is my sanctuary, my point of view,” the empty-nester says. “It was fun to start over and to go slow and be thoughtful about how I would use my new space. I’m loving it.”