Richmond interior designer Jennifer Stoner had barely completed the finishing touches on her clients’ house two years ago when they announced they were buying a 1906 home on Monument Avenue in the city’s historic Fan District. “It was the fulfillment of a dream for them,” Stoner explains. So she got to work on the new project.
Gus and Eileen Remppies had enjoyed living in “the Fan” on Hanover Street for several years, but were continually looking for a home on Monument Avenue. “They’re very active in Richmond civic events, and love to entertain,” says Stoner about Gus Remppies, a chief investment officer, and Eileen, a former kindergarten teacher. “They wanted a home that is a bit more centrally located.” In 2008 they found just what they wanted. Since a lot of their furniture was recently purchased, the couple decided to repurpose as much of it as possible, but wanted to make some changes too. Among them was to infuse this home with color.
“Eileen wanted a departure from the true red and navy blue of the ‘old’ décor to something more contemporary and subdued,” says Stoner, who suggested introducing a soft gray-blue palette. And since the home would serve not only as a gathering place for friends and family (their daughter Daphne lives nearby) but also as a refuge for these two busy empty-nesters, the design plan necessitated separate approaches to the public and private rooms.
The main floor is the most dramatic of the three. Stoner painted the walls of the front hall black, partially to balance the high-contrast stencil on the stairwell that travels up all three stories. “I asked them to just go with me on this. They did—and they love it,” the designer says about the leap-of-faith color choice.
The architectural details are the most compelling elements of the house. High ceilings, deep crown moldings and coffered ceilings are all too grand to be ignored, so Stoner directed color choices and other decorative elements to embrace these assets. In the reception salon, Cowtan & Tout embroidered silk draperies hang inside the window frame, constructed at triple-width for extra fullness. The soft blue wall color offers a contemporary backdrop to the traditional furnishings.
The triple tête-à-tête settee is a conversation piece. “Everyone has to try it out,” Stoner says. In the adjacent dining room, Kravet red silk draperies hung over a Jab woven paisley shade help tie in furnishings from the previous house and impart warmth to the room.
In the music room, Stoner again blended the old with the new while focusing on the architecture. Pale yellow walls echo the more intense Lee Jofa gold draperies. A red club chair and an Oriental rug from the previous house have found a comfortable spot near the fireplace. Of special note is the intricate stencil work on the ceiling—an interpretation of a motif on the crystal-embellished chandelier.
Rather than completely renovate the kitchen, which actually worked well for the homeowners, Stoner simply redecorated, adding a few details to make it theirs. The “antiqued” cabinets and crackle-finish paint on the arch and island display the talents of Richmond decorative painters Jennifer Ludvik and Patti Ryan. The new, quilted stainless-steel hood over the stove adds visual interest, and handcrafted iron “ants” marching above the French doors are there for fun.
One of Stoner’s challenges was to create a sense of coziness in the spacious master bedroom, which boasts high ceilings. She painted the walls a muted blue, then grandly draped the wall behind the bed with silk gathered on crystal knobs just below the crown molding. She embellished the drapery with pearl swags to create a dramatic and romantic effect. The fireplace on the opposite wall is flanked by shuttered windows with balloon shades in matching blue silk with a sheer silk overlay. The master bedroom and its adjacent sitting room both reflect the theme of old and new. The lyrical wall sculpture and lounge chair in the sitting room came from the previous home, while the window treatments and custom ottoman were just purchased. All blend comfortably into a beautiful design.
Jeanne Blackburn is a writer based in Montgomery Village, Maryland. John Magor is a photographer in Richmond, Virginia.
INTERIOR DESIGN: Jennifer Stoner, IFDA, Mosaic Interiors, Richmond, Virginia.
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