Bringing Warmth to a Modern House

As a home décor enthusiast and shop owner I am always looking for new and exciting challenges. It is truly amazing how much décor can change an entire home! I got my wish this October (which feels like just yesterday – how is it already almost 2020?!) when Nell Hill’s had the opportunity to work with local realtor Kristen Malfer to stage an ultra-modern home located in Leawood, Kansas.  At first, I was hesitant – we are New Traditional all the way!  How could we bring the warmth and fun of our design aesthetic into stark modern home and achieve Kristen’s goal of “warming it up”?! Luckily, I had our designer Zakk Hoyt by my side and we were able to pull off quite a transformation using a combination of our favorite upholstered pieces, plenty of cozy accessories and a dash of Christmas cheer.

The first thing I noticed when I walked through the stainless-steel front doors was the abundance of open space! With an open floor plan, it’s important to create separate spaces that still flow together for a cohesive look, so I knew we were about to have some fun! The home was designed in a modern industrial style and features plenty of metal accents and dark features that gave the house a sharp edge I knew we would need to soften to achieve our goal.  What also caught my eye was the lovely light wood ceiling that brought an unexpected natural element into the space. This was an important feature since I knew we would be able to pull out the warmth of the wood tones and spread them throughout the home with the addition of wood and leather mirrors, tables and chairs added to the space.  A lot of the mirrors, tables and chairs we brought in had wooden or light leather elements to enhance the reach of the natural elements.

To not overwhelm the minimalist space, we decided to keep the big pieces we brought in a neutral palette with whites, grays and browns.  The Christmas décor was subtle as well, featuring muted gold, taupe and cream woven through lush greenery.  That’s not to say we didn’t have some fun with color – I can’t resist a pop of brightness!  We had so many beautiful orange accents in the shop I knew we had to work them in! From the rust colored blankets to the bright persimmon touches in the kitchen, the color truly breathed a fresh life into the house! We especially had a good time with color in the extra bedroom we converted into a sweet and cheery nursery.  This was the one room where we didn’t hold back with the color palette! We used some orange to stay cohesive with the overall look of the house and added a rainbow of pastels (and a few neon hues for balance) for a fun and creative space.

Now, it wouldn’t be a Nell Hill’s home without some textile magic! Alongside our amazing bedding team, we brought in some of my favorite patterns (I’m looking at you plaid and animal print).  Mixing in a fun print like leopard throughout the living spaces and adding zebra chairs to the master bedroom (I know it sounds like we went safari crazy, but it worked!) helped create a space with personality.  Bringing in a classic pattern like plaid to the group brought out the feeling of “home” that we want when we walk into a space. 

Our last step was bringing in plenty of art to help soften the tall and intimidating walls.  We went with a variety of pieces that ranged from black and white abstract to whimsical illustrations depending on the room.  We didn’t need to take art selection too seriously, we had so many fun pieces to mix and match and play with! A gallery wall can truly give a room its own personality, can’t it?

I had such a fun time not only transforming this home, but also at their “Christmas in October Open House” we hosted there with Kristen and her team.  This was a great project that showed me again just how versatile new traditional elements can be! I can’t wait to see what challenges and homes are in store for us in the coming year! Until next time – happy decorating!

For more information on this property contact Malfer & Associates or visit