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Sometimes it’s a bit touchy for an interior designer to mix family and design, especially if the client is your mom. Even when you’re a seasoned professional, arguing with your mom over paint colors, light fixtures and upholstery patterns can be intimidating. Mom is always right, right?

But Alex Von Ahsen has been here before. Phelans’ senior designer has guided his mom, Karen, through several remodeling and redecorating projects in his career. So when Karen decided her home of 18 years needed another “freshening up,” who else would she turn to?

“I was gearing up for retirement. I was preparing for a new chapter in my life and wanted my home to reflect that, and Alex knew that. I knew he would do a wonderful job,” says Karen.

Alex smiles. “She made it easy for me. She trusts me to do what is right for her, what fits her lifestyle and her personality. Mostly these were updates – a more neutral color palette, a little more drama, new fabrics and artwork. Every project doesn’t have to be a complete tearing down and starting over for rooms to be transformed,” he explains.

An open-concept floor plan puts the living and dining room on full display, while the kitchen is open to the dining room. Originally the kitchen felt small and dark. New skylights visually opened up the space, shedding light on quartz countertops and stone-and-glass backsplash that was runs vertically to heighten the illusion.

High-fashion and modern, the “Andromeda” chandelier from Revelation adds drama to the dining room. Although the space is compact, there’s plenty of space for a Cynthia Rowley-designed credenza in deep, rich teal for Hooker Furniture. A pair of buffet lamps and stylish mirror are finishing touches.

“I wasn’t sure about the color for the buffet — a big step for me, and I’m surprised how much I love it. The color is so unexpected,” Karen says.

Sherwin Williams’ “Agreeable Gray” creates the perfect backdrop for pops of color in the living room. The Norwalk sofa, slipper chairs and pouf ottoman have been reupholstered in elegant, subtly textured gray fabrics. “When your palette is this neutral, fabrics and textures become important choices. Art needs to be a focal point,” Alex explains. A large canvas titled “Deep Ocean Blue” provides that focus, hanging above the sofa. Custom draperies in pewter from Carole Fabrics complete the room.

The master bedroom is relatively small, with just enough space for the tall, arched and tufted headboard from Thomasville. Soft, slate blue walls are complemented by dark paisley custom draperies.

“It’s interesting how quickly you forget what the house looked like when it was all dark colors and heavy fabrics. Now the colors unify all the spaces, it feels more open, and I love it. Alex says it’s ‘fresh,’ and he’s right,” Karen adds.

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