Open the door to this town home, and you’ll think you’ve stepped into a beach house. The blue, cream and silvery gray color scheme is light, airy and refreshing — and immediately transports you to a sunny coastal retreat.

On a gray winter’s day in Iowa, the contrast is a welcome one.

“The furnishings have a modern feel, but they are actually very timeless and traditional — not a lot of funky shapes. It’s the choice of fabrics and the nearly monochromatic color scheme that makes it seem very ‘today,’” says Emily Hughes, IIDA, an interior designer with The Mansion in Iowa City.

Owners of the newly built townhouse gave Hughes a great deal of latitude in furnishing the space. But they were clear that they didn’t want a lot of visual distractions.

“The home is calm and serene, and we chose not to do a lot of busy upholstery patterns,” the designer notes. The selection of artist-enhanced, gallery-wrapped canvas and limited edition framed print chosen by Hughes echoes the color scheme.

In the living room, the comfortable conversation grouping — Century Furniture sofa, comfy recliners, drink tables and an end table in walnut with Shagreen drawer fronts by Lexington — is settled on a textured wool rug around the fireplace.

But focal point is the unusual alabaster gypsum finish cocktail table by Bernhardt. An ancient mineral that appears in Egyptian pyramids, gypsum also is very durable. Alabaster gypsum, used for the cocktail table, has a distinctive ivory brilliance. Each piece of gypsum is adhered by hand to the table frame that includes a steel plinth base in pewter finish. A protective topcoat protects the gypsum from drink spills.

Throughout the home, including the lower level, Sherwin Williams’ “Agreeable Gray” is the perfect backdrop for the home’s soothing hues, while brown grain subtly shows through gray-stained maple floors in public spaces, punctuated by subtly colored and textured area rugs.

“The combination keeps everything from feeling too cold,” Hughes explains.

The kitchen is an easy fit with its white Bertch Cabinets and quartz LB Minuet counter tops. The sable-finished island anchors the space, providing a contrast to crisp white finishes. A marble mosaic backsplash adds a touch of fashion.

A monochromatic color scheme makes each layer and texture even more important, Hughes points out. “That’s how you introduce contrast. The mix of materials prevents the spaces from taking on a sameness. And you choose one or two things to be a counterpoint and balance out your focal point.”

Perhaps the most dramatic use of color in the entire home is in the main-level office. The vivid jewel-toned and nature-inspired rug by designer Tracy Porter for Feizy Rugs is perfect in the transitional space.

“That was our starting point and because it is such a strong, visual element, the other layers are more neutral,” Hughes adds, including linen tub chairs from Curations Limited with blue velvet pillows and a dark sable desk with steel base from Bernhardt.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

Staff Photographer

Staff Photographer for The Courier

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