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.”
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.”
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.’”