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Abstract art, a leather Eames chair, and a seriously impressive collection of minimalist ceramics are just some of the treasures you’ll find inside this eclectic Washington, D.C., home. The reason they coexist so effortlessly? Designer Kerra Michele, the creative force behind the historic Victorian. Anyone familiar with Michele’s playful aesthetic will see hints of it scattered throughout the 2,500-square-foot townhouse, but according to the designer, her inspiration came from an external source: her equally fun-loving client. “She is certainly a risk-taker,” says Michele. “As soon as I saw my window of opportunity, I went straight for some buffalo plaid.”

The chief challenge Michele faced when designing the home: The open-plan living/dining area was just too big. She pulled off a cohesive floor plan with aplomb, so we tapped her for her top tips on how to deal with a hard-to-style layout.

Spruce Up the Backdrop

Fall back on paint and light fixtures to add architectural details without doing any demolition. The designer suggests coating doors, trim, and stair rails in contrasting colors for instant character or using lighting in specific places to help separate one area from another visually when there are no walls to help.

Use Materials to Layer in Charm

One problem with bigger spaces is that they can often feel intimidating and cold. To combat that vibe, sprinkle in as many natural textures as possible. Michele loves warm woods, brassy hardware, and leather, even in small accents. 

Divide Your Space With Rugs

The open first floor is broken up into separate spaces—living room, play area, entry, etc.—by way of rugs and lights, which are used to define them. Carve out a similar vignette by way of a circular floor covering and use it to anchor the decorations you’ll place in it. Just be sure to stick with your general color scheme—when you’re working with more square footage, continuity is key.

See other homes we love: This Is How an NYC Landscape Designer Decorates Indoors Peek Inside This Textile Company’s Colorful L.A. Studio  The Founder of Edie Parker Invites Us Inside Her Technicolor Upper East Side Apartment