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Trick the eye. “Everything you see here is an illusion,” Mounce says of the great room. The massive wood ceiling beam is really hollow framing clad with reclaimed-wood planks. The Heat & Glo fireplace vents straight out the back, but Mounce designed a faux chimney to create a sense of dimension, emphasize the room’s 20-foot-tall peaked ceiling, and camouflage the television. And the chimney appears to be metal, but is actually clad with gray tile. Photography by David Lauer. Styling by Natalie Warady

Cool, Calm, & Collected

Boulder designer Linda Mounce knows the tricks to creating comfortable rooms that look perfectly put together, and they're all on display in her new modern farmhouse.

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What’s the difference between just-ok interiors and spaces that sing? Interior designer Linda Mounce says it’s all about flow: a simple and consistent palette of colors and materials that’s carefully “sprinkled” throughout every room.

To achieve that flow in her family’s new home, a modern farmhouse in Boulder’s Newlands neighborhood, she began by painting every wall the same shade of white. “I like a quiet house, where I can hear the things I put in it speak,” she says. “White makes everything pop.” Though she had hundreds of shades to choose from, Mounce didn’t obsess over swatches. “I asked my painter to paint the walls whatever color he had used on the trim,” she says. “Later, I looked at the can and discovered it was an un-tinted base. It just proves that you don’t need to try 10 samples to get it right.” To complement the white walls, she opted for a custom stain—“the color of dirt,” she laughs—in an ultra-matte finish for the home’s white-oak floors. “I tell everyone to go as matte as possible on floors,” she says. “I’ve had shiny floors before, and they show the dirt like you can’t believe.”

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With her simple palette established, Mounce set about filling the rooms with old and new, expensive and inexpensive, and modern and traditional furnishings. “I don’t ever recommend matching furniture, like a sofa and loveseat, or dining table and chairs,” she says. “A mix of pieces creates a more authentic, collected look; it’s just more interesting.”

To create that mix, she relied on a wide range of sources, from artisans to big-box retailers. “Every brand has a distinctive style, so if you only buy from one store, it creates a one-dimensional, flat look,” she says. In the master bedroom, she flanked her old upholstered headboard from Target with mirrors from West Elm and nightstands from Noir; a handcrafted feathery African headdress hangs on the wall above them. In the dining room, a hefty wooden table from Restoration Hardware rests atop an inexpensive rug from HomeGoods.

Mounce used a strategy any one of us can employ: Keep the big and pricey furnishings and finishes neutral, saving the design flourishes for less-expensive pillows, artwork, rugs, and other accessories that are easy to change when a room needs a refresh. Those flourishes exhibit her signature “organic modern” style—“with a heavy focus on organic,” she says. “That’s what I see missing from a lot of modern spaces. People forget the warm part of it.”

Here, that warmth comes from texture rather than color: rustic wood, natural stone, plush sheepskins, wool rugs, and a bit of greenery in every room. “Plants bring amazing texture to rooms,” says Mounce, who favors sculptural fiddle-leaf fig trees. “And if you don’t have a green thumb, a faux plant is perfectly acceptable.”

One word of caution: There’s a danger in mixing materials, Mounce points out. It’s easy to use too many—or too much. “I like to choose a few elements to sprinkle throughout, whether it’s plants or sheepskins or a metal finish like brushed brass,” she says. “Don’t pour anything on—you don’t need brass faucets and lighting in every room—but if you use a material in one place, sprinkle a little of it in other rooms, too.”

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Developing this ability to edit takes practice, but it’s the key to creating that elusive sense of flow—and, when you’re tackling the decor on your own, the illusion that your rooms were designed by an expert. “It’s one of the most important elements of good design,” Mounce says. “It’s what says, ‘Someone with a good design sense lives here.’”

Create a Landing Space.

Mounce-Desk
“Every entryway needs a table with drawers where you can put your keys, gloves, and dog leash,” says homeowner and interior designer Linda Mounce. “Otherwise, stuff piles up on top.” The designer found her antique Chinese butcher’s table at a shop in California. Two more must-haves: “A round mirror, which softens the lines of the typically rectangular space,” Mounce says, and lighting—like this pair of lamps from Blackband Design—that automatically turns on at dusk, with help from a programmable timer. “It makes the space feel welcoming, and it’s an added safety measure,” she says.

Opt for an all-occasion dining room.

mounce-dining
This home has just one dining area, which means the space has to be nice enough for company but practical enough for casual family meals. To make it multitask, Mounce placed kid-friendly leather Ansel chairs from AllModern at the long sides of the table (“where a family typically sits for daily meals,” she says). When guests arrive, she adds pretty upholstered seats at the ends. The Machinto dining table is by Restoration Hardware, the Colonial hutch is from Noir, and the bronze-finished Fulton chandelier is by Hinkley.

Design with use in mind.

mounce-entry
In the mudroom, pantry-sized cabinets from Ultracraft hold bulk purchases (like extra paper towels) so they don’t take up space in the kitchen. The custom bench, designed by Mounce, is topped with reclaimed barn wood “because it’s already so naturally distressed that wear and tear from daily life is unnoticeable,” she says. Plus, it mimics the organic elements in other parts of the home. Easy-to-reach baskets (from Target) make it a snap for kids to put away their own gloves, hats, and other necessities. And the rear wall is covered in shiplap for its “quiet texture,” Mounce says. “It’s authentic to farmhouses, so it feels right in this home.”

Invest in outdoor spaces.

mounce-patio
“I feel that every backyard, no matter the size, should have dedicated space for lounging and dining al fresco,” Mounce says. Here, the Arcalis five-piece sectional from Overstock maximizes the patio’s function, and the Malay cast-concrete coffee table, from Restoration Hardware, softens the area’s hard lines. “I love the table’s undulating form that mimics a giant piece of weathered wood,” Mounce says. The teak dining table, from Kingsley Bate, is surrounded by handsome woven chairs that can be easily moved closer to the lounging area when dinner is done. Bonus: Mounce put the globe string lights on a timer so that each night, they turn on and beckon the family outside.

Choose neutral fixed finishes.

“The most expensive design elements—countertops, flooring, cabinets, tile—should be the simplest,” Mounce advises. “For the kitchen, I recommend white cabinets (they go with everything), simple hardware, and quiet countertops.” Here, she chose PentalQuartz countertops in two subdued colors, white Shaker-style cabinetry from Ultracraft, and a lantern mosaic backsplash tile in soft gray marble. Organic shapes and materials—graceful wooden barstools, glass French Magnum pendants from Restoration Hardware, and floating wood shelves—warm the cool palette. Tip: Items stored on open shelves like these will gather dust quickly, so use the space to display dishes and glassware you use—and wash—daily.

Cozy up to rich textures.

mounce-bedroom
Want to add warmth to a modern environment without using warm colors? The key is texture, Mounce says. In her master bedroom, she accented an upholstered headboard from Target with layers of pillows and a patterned blanket from HomeGoods. An African juju hat hangs just above. “It’s made of real feathers and the texture is amazing,” she says. A pair of West Elm mirrors—the designer gave the frames a coat of gold spray paint—emphasizes the tall ceiling and bounces light into the often-dim room.

Make it genuine.

mounce-outside
Subtle details give this modern farmhouse a sense of authenticity. Standard white siding, cut in half horizontally so each board is just two inches tall, mimics the look of old wood siding. One exterior wall is clad with gray wood boards on top and pale stone at the bottom. “The stone creates a sense of permanence and a sense of place,” Mounce says.

Go big (sparingly).

mounce-bath
The master bathroom’s accent wall, tiled with Cementine Posa 3 from Arizona Tile, is bold—and everyone’s favorite thing in the house, Mounce says. The key to this look is to choose just one wall: “Either behind a tub or behind the sinks is great. A whole shower is just too much.”

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