Peppering her design discourse with words like "fun," "vigor," "whimsy," "syzygy," and definitely "comfort," above all interior designer Carol Freedman of Carol Freedman Design lives for color.
"I use it in abundance and have the courage to use it a variety of ways,” Freedman said, referencing her own Bethesda, Md. living room with its lush blue and purple color palette (think sky; sapphire; peacock; blueberry; robin’s egg; lavender; lilac; morning glory; grape).
A former environmental lobbyist, Freedman traded issues of the great outdoors for items found in great interiors, having come to design almost by birthright. Daughter of a professional interior designer, she achieved her first total room redesign (her bedroom) at age 13, and went on to reinterpret college friends’ dorm rooms with generous color, bedding and accessories. Both a quilter and artist, Freedman also studied drafting and drawing in landscape architecture classes, providing for a confluence of influences in her current—since 1994—career.
Of the residences she has transitioned from boring to beaming, Freedman said, “I think ensconcing yourself in a colorful, vibrant environment is a great way to live.” Citing everything from the color CPR and redesign of a home an architect had saddled with incongruent tones, to a client’s favorite teal, olive, caramel and rust-hued tote bag that was brought to her as the basis for a home’s redesign and color challenge, Freedman said her greatest joy comes from creating rooms from a single object or idea. “I really live for that,” she said.
Notes on a nude
In Chevy Chase, a quiet but spectacular heirloom painting of a nude in a 3,500 s.f. bungalow-style home was the catalyst for a redesign of the residence’s living and dining spaces—and family room. Rubenesque in physique with decidedly gold, bronze and copious olive tones, the painting was “incredibly evocative,” Freedman recalled. While she’d not worked with those colors before, the designer said she was nevertheless thrilled to use the artwork as the inspiration for the redesign of the home.
Accordingly, Freedman upholstered a loveseat and sofa, respectively, in olive and sage. Referencing the robust nude and desiring “sexy, shapely, interesting furniture,” the vintage loveseat is by enduring New York modernist Vladimir Kagan, and like the model in the painting, is broad and curvy. It’s also truly comfortable. “When you sit in these spaces, though they may not be huge, they’re very cozy and comfortable, which is something for which I always aim,” the designer affirmed. Accent pillows in sage, olive and rust, and a rust-colored plush chair from France, augment the space. To add texture, both the chair and especially an ottoman coffee table are made from woven, organic materials, and a cream-colored shag rug turns up the wow on warp and weft. A Donghia side table beneath the painting has shapely legs, a curved top with a ruffled quality and a gilt edge, reflecting the artwork’s anatomy, tones and also its gilt frame.
In the dining room, accessed through pocket doors emblematic of the home’s prodigious wood detail, deep rust walls provide a sense of depth and intimacy – the color teased through from the living room where it is found in the pillows and plush chair. Gold ultrasuede dining table chairs, both durable and functional in light of the household’s growing children, complement a heavy, pale pickled oak dining table by Birdman. An intricately-grained Berman Rosetti wood buffet flanks a wildly colorful patterned rug from Nepal.
With a vital, active young family, the residence’s family room became a hub for fun and color. Butter yellow walls provided a canvas for a bright, vintage flapper-era poster that the homeowner, whom the designer said has a “keen eye for art,” found at an antique poster store in Georgetown. In this room, though the art was not the driver (actually, the sofa came first), its colors are redolent both of the living and dining spaces and the poster. A soft, cozy, durable sectional sofa, which Freedman describes as “somewhere between periwinkle and violet,” is accompanied by a yellow gold leather Ligne Roset chair— sleek with clean lines but “very sit-able and comfortable,” the designer said. A whimsical gold, rust, black and blue rug picks up the colors of the room – including circular black tables—in its presentation of stripes and dots.
“When I saw all the dots in the rug, that’s when I decided to do all the fun, round pillows, so they sort of jump off the carpet and onto the sectional,” Freedman explained. Banks of three-quarter length windows across the room bathe the room in light, and a ceiling painted a pale sky blue helps open the space.
Another client, who was extremely color-shy, ultimately told the designer that her bold use of hues was “a revelation”—one that prompted a visceral reaction and changed his entire experience of a long, dark winter. It’s a message she continues to carry to clients about the joy of color. And though that infectious feeling caused her to fail a middle school project on design because she and a friend couldn’t stop laughing during the orals, clearly Freedman has persevered nevertheless.