“Home is where I want to be most comfortable, surrounded by the people and things that I love,” says One Kings Lane president Debbie Propst, which is precisely the goal she achieved with the design of her New Canaan abode. With some help from The Studio at One Kings Lane, she created a home that showcases her personality and family-oriented lifestyle.
Born in Scotland, Debbie spent her childhood living in the U.K. and Spain, and it’s in these places where she fostered a love for all things English and a deep appreciation for the architectural style of Gaudí. Cut to Connecticut, where she and her family have decided to put down roots. You can easily see how her international style has been brought to life with an American sensibility. Refined yet laid-back, the interior is crafted with holiday dinners, movie nights, and playdates in mind.
As head of One Kings Lane, it’s no wonder Debbie turned to in-house designer Nicole Fisher, who developed a plan for the home that combines high style and kid-friendly comforts in each spacious room—all primarily furnished with new and vintage pieces sourced from One Kings Lane. “The challenge was to create a scheme that not only suited Debbie and her husband,” says Nicole, “but one that also worked for two small children and a dog.”
That in mind, Debbie and Nicole opted for furniture, rugs, and finishing touches that could stand up to the inevitable daily wear and tear that comes with family life. Paint and wallpaper in earthy hues provide a versatile backdrop for soft shades of pink and blue, and complementary pieces, finished in everything from burl wood to Belgian linen, provide beautiful balance. Below, see how this seamless marriage of comfort and style came together.
Designed by architect Royal Barry Wills, a specialist in Cape Cod styles, the home features shingled sides and white trim. Topiaries, boxwoods, and slate walkways add to the distinct New England feel.
In the foyer, traditional blue-and-white ginger jars and a shapely brass pendant complement a lacquered console by Oomph.
One of the few existing pieces Nicole had to work with was a Belgian linen sofa in dusty pink. She used it to establish the room’s color scheme, pulling it through to a Fortuny throw pillow and an Oushak rug. A pair of vintage rockers offset a board-and-batten wall, one of the home’s original features.
When it came time to accessorize the fireplace, the focus turned to scale. “It’s quite large,” says Nicole, “so a smaller mirror worked best, as we wanted the ceiling to feel higher than it is.” A Federal-style mirror and shaded sconces fit the bill; meanwhile, to transform the fireplace during these warmer months, Debbie opted for decorative spheres. Marble grapes on the mantel tie the whole look together.
Vintage lamps topped with shades by Bunny Williams make for elegant accent lighting alongside the sofa. “A mix of prints keeps the room feeling lively,” says Nicole. “They add that token touch of fun.”
A black lacquered secretary opens to become a surface for work as well as a stylish drinks station ready with barware for cocktail hours on the fly.
Oversize cement alligators make for cheeky additions in the dining room and keep watch underneath a chandelier by AERIN. “You want people to smile when they walk into your home,” says Debbie, “and everybody who walks in and sees those alligators think they’re totally weird, but they’ve all smiled… and that’s the point.” Just beyond, a vintage screen reiterates the colors used throughout the home.
It’s important to remember not to take yourself too seriously. You want people to smile when they walk into your home.
Featuring slate floors and original casework, the butler’s pantry was transformed into an intimate space for party prep with the addition of grass-cloth wallpaper on the ceiling. Shelves lined with Farmhouse Pottery and vintage glassware keep everything within reach.
An original piece of Flemish tapestry framed in acrylic, colorful Dutch plates, and a rustic vintage bench play up an old-meets-new mix on the way to the kitchen.
Working with kitchen specialist Sarah Blanks, Debbie and Nicole were careful to maintain the room’s original character, preserving details such as the cabinetry’s ironwork and beamed ceiling. Above, O&G counter stools in a shade similar to robin’s-egg blue bring a touch of classic American style to the room.
A collection of imported silver, beautifully tarnished, reflects Debbie’s love of all things English.
Nicole skipped built-ins in favor of a freestanding island. “We wanted it to feel more like a piece of furniture than an extension of the cabinetry,” she says. A flat-weave rug grounds the space, adding texture and warmth underfoot.
The dining area off the kitchen is symmetrically arranged with antique chests, lighting by AERIN, and mirrors by Noir. The spacious table, by Ave Home, is where Debbie and her family gather for most meals.
One of the antique chests holds a Tom Dixon tea set, one of Debbie’s favorite collections. “It’s important to have a mix of old and new,” says Nicole. “That’s when a house starts to truly feel like a home.”
I wanted my home to be representative of the way I grew up... an authentic farm-style way of life.
In the family room, a burl-wood coffee table by Kara Mann for Milling Road has disguised drawers that store toys; skirted tables flank a sumptuous brown velvet sofa that accommodates the whole family. A lover of prints, Debbie worked with Nicole to choose a range of textiles—from the pillows to the ottoman to the rug—that are lively yet easy on the eyes.
Graphic art by David Grey, a favorite rising star at One Kings Lane, is one of the family room’s most eye-catching contemporary features. It works because “it goes with the color palette we established at the beginning of the project,” says Nicole.
Don’t limit yourself to one specific style. Choose pieces from a variety of periods to create a look that’s full of life and character.
Among the prints that Debbie and Nicole brought into the family room are floral medallions, block-printed leaf motifs, and elaborate embroidered patterns that bring the outdoors inside.
In a passageway in the rear of the house, a dhurrie rug left slightly askew “helps guide the eye around the room and prevents things from feeling too precious,” says Nicole. Atop the rug, the round table topped with a sculptural basket becomes an instant focal point.