Local Color

A Waltham decorator calls on a vibrant palette to reenergize—and personalize—her 89-year-old Colonial.

Interior designer Kathie Chrisicos had no problem leaving her skylit Chelsea condo for the butler’s pantry and French doors of a century-old house in Waltham. In a way, it was like coming home. She had, after all, grown up in a rambling old house in southern New Hampshire, and was familiar with the groaning floorboards and rattling windows that come with a vintage property. Her 2,250-square-foot Colonial Revival, just 9 miles outside Boston, was hardly derelict, but, true to her trade, Chrisicos was eager to start remodeling. She and her partner, writer Robert Cardarelli, then faced a not-so-uncommon New England challenge: how to modernize their spread without stripping away decades of accumulated character.

[sidebar]Their solution was two-part, literally: The first floor remains mostly traditional, with the foyer’s original gumwood molding and 1960s-era bathrooms, while the second story plays with edgier décor and contemporary design (witness the gold-on-blue painted ceiling in the master bedroom). “My goal,” says Chrisicos, “was to experiment with different styles but still maintain flow.” Both levels, though, showcase her love affair with color, something that pops up often in all her projects. “Color is a theme in my work,” she affirms. “It should be used in a creative way, but not always be a dominant feature.”

Nowhere is her signature style more evident than in her second-floor extra bedroom turned media room. Its centerpiece is a custom-made Emma Gardner rug. The black, green, and off-white carpet was stitched together in Nepal; its palette inspired Chrisicos to paint an abstract artwork that now hangs on a far wall. “It was such an in-your-face, rich, bold look,” she says of the rug. “It was a joy to work with the various green shades.” The latter can be found all over, from the pastel wall paint to a pair of polka-dotted olive Cox chairs. She also added a handful of contemporary accent tables and glass and silver home accessories. Because the room has a row of windows on two facing walls, Chrisicos installed Roman wood shades under pleated beige and green Pindler & Pindler silk curtains. Now, she says, “When I watch a Sunday football game, I can completely block out the light.”