People say the third time’s a charm. But for designer Sallie Finney Kjos, her second go-round designing the interiors of a Great Falls home proved to be the winning ticket. Pops of lucky green woven throughout also didn’t hurt.
“I’d originally done the house a decade ago. The previous palette was all warm tones—olives, oranges, golds and browns—and the style was Tuscan with lots of layers and knickknacks,” recalls the designer. She embraced the opportunity to rework the five-bedroom, 5,600-square-foot abode for her clients, Kenny and Sejin Kim, owners of the hair-care products company, Bonfi Natural.
The Kims, who have three college-age children, had been living elsewhere and renting out their Great Falls home. When they decided to return, they asked Kjos to give its traditional interiors a new lease on life. “They wanted to reclaim the house and make it theirs again,” says Kjos. “But more importantly, they wanted it to be a reflection of who they are now.”
Sejin Kim likes to keep up with design trends and over the years, her tastes have evolved. This time, she was looking for a more streamlined, minimalist vibe. “My wish was to make a traditional colonial house into a contemporary one,” she explains. “I used to live in Seoul and have always loved city life. I wanted Sallie to create that modern look in our home.”
Inspiration for the design direction and color palette originated with an Instagram post by Kjos spotlighting her own foyer, which boasts a graphic, black-and-white feature wall stenciled by Virginia-based decorative painter Lynn Whiteley.
“Sejin called me right away and said, ‘I want that,’” recounts Kjos. “So black and white became our base palette. I’d been dying to work with emerald green, and Sejin, who already had a beautiful Valentino silk clutch in that color, was up for it too.”
Though the home’s footprint remained unchanged, Kjos repainted; redid finishes, materials and surfaces; and refurnished the interiors from scratch. “I wanted to create a cohesive flow throughout the home,” reflects the designer on the color palette. “But I also wanted to use the colors in different ways in each room. That way, every space has a distinct personality.”
A version of the inspirational black-and-white stencil appears as a creative kitchen backsplash in the redesign, with custom-cut plexiglass added to protect the range wall. Distressed-cream lower cabinets were lacquered black and the upper cabinets white, with new, polished-nickel hardware. But it’s the stencil—a version of it in a custom green hue embellishes the powder room—that gives the room pizzazz. “We could’ve used wallpaper, but that has a more manufactured feel,” Kjos notes. “The stencil feels like art. It has texture and interest as well as natural imperfections.”
Adjacent to the kitchen, the former home office has been repurposed as a casual breakfast room, with reclaimed-timber shelves and vinyl café chairs in graphic black and white. Opening onto a courtyard, this room full of natural light is painted a striking black. “There was a typical eat-in nook in the kitchen,” Kjos observes. “But we decided to do something different and created a lounge area in the bay window with a couple of chaises. The homeowner loves to have coffee there, and the kids put their feet up and work on their laptops when they’re home, while Sejin is cooking.”
The family room is also a popular hangout, with its comfortable sectional, existing stone fireplace and ceiling coffers that Kjos lacquered black for dramatic effect. A rug from Varick Gallery and black-and-white drapes add further contrast.
The formal living and dining rooms are reached via cased openings off the central foyer hall. Like the breakfast room, the dining room is cloaked in black, which imbues it with a sense of intimacy.
By contrast, the two-story living room is crisp white, with a green accent wall above the fireplace. Wide-plank oak floors stained driftwood gray run throughout the house and luxurious silk curtains in vibrant emerald connect the two spaces.
When it came to furniture, Kjos selected pieces in clean-lined, mid-century style, then added touches of glamour via lighting—the dramatic Rainfall crystal chandelier by James R. Moder in the living room, for example. In her lighting selections, Kjos played with a simple theme—combinations of crystal or glass, and black-metal or silver finishes—but varied it room by room.
Light fixtures also define the spaces. A drum chandelier with crystal teardrops sets the tone in the green-walled master bedroom, where—between the tribal-inspired ikat curtains and marble-patterned carpet—Kjos particularly showed off her deft designer’s eye. “It’s important to layer textures and vary patterns, making it all more interesting,” she advises. “Especially when you’re working with a high-contrast, black-and-white palette.”
Her measured approach, coupled with the choice of fresh emerald green for the accents, lend this house the distinction of a true gem.
Dining Table, Sideboard, wayfair.com. Sunburst Mirror: zgallerie.com. Art: Naomi McCavitt through worldartgroup.com. Frame: hallofframes.com. Chandelier & Curtain Rod: westelm.com. Dining Chairs: eugadesign.it. Leather Side Chairs: cb2.com. Lamps on Sideboard: Mercer41.com. Drapes: ZylstraArtandDesign through etsy.com. Rug: Surya.com.
KITCHEN & BREAKFAST ROOM
Stools, Chaises, Bench, Throw: wayfair.com. Fixture above Chaises: shadesoflight.com. Table & Chairs: cb2.com. Drapes: westelm.com. Bench Fabric: katespade.com. Pendants: ballarddesigns.com. Backsplash Stencil: whiteleydesignstudio.com. Kitchen Cabinet Paint: sherwinwilliams.com. Counters: quartz.
Dining Table, Chairs & Umbrella: cb2.com
Headboard & Vanity: zgallerie.com. Nightstands: madegoods.com. Art over Headboard: theworldartgroup.com. Frame: hallofframes.com. Bedding: serenaandlily.com. Drapes: westelm.com. Vanity chair: arhaus.com. Rug: Surya.com.