Q&A with Carol Freedman of Carol Freedman Design
By Beth Herman
Celebrated for the abundant colors that define her work, interior designer Carol Freedman of Carol Freedman Design spoke with DCMud about an unusual commission: designing a house around the colors in a tote bag.
DCMud: So much of your world is about the unabashed use of color, accordingly what made the redesign of this residence different?
Freedman: The inspiration for this 8,000 s.f. Bethesda house was a tote bag that the client really loved. It had geometric patterns of leaves: a rust leaf; turquoise leaf; an olive leaf; a caramel leaf; a black leaf. And her color preferences were also deeper than many I’ve used before, as exemplified in the tote which was our canvas.
DCMud: So how did the tote manifest itself in the home?
Freedman: To begin with, there are three floors, and the back of the house faces dense forest with a beautiful woodland view. We started in the great room with a large custom round patterned Odegard rug from Nepal. I then found this geometric fabric that picked up all of her colors and decided it would be great to use a fair amount of it, but not too much to overpower the room. So we used solids for the base of the couch and the chairs, applying the fabric for all the sofa’s throw pillows and back pillows. A complementary floral fabric from the same company is on some chairs, which pick up all those beautiful colors.
DCMud: In a previous story we did together, the inspiration for a home came from a painting. Though this home’s design was predicated on a tote bag, what about the spirited artwork in so many of the rooms—particularly the diptych in the living room?
Freedman: We wanted some really dynamic art on the walls, and my client and I fell in love with Susan Finsen who does exquisite work at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria. This was a custom commission we did, based on one of her previous designs, where she employed our colors with her artistic sense.
DCMud: The home’s master bedroom also appears to reflect the tote’s theme.
Freedman: I found the rug first, which picked up a lot of the same colors I used in the great room. The client already had the custom wood furniture, so I wanted a color on the walls that would make the furniture sing. We used turquoise from the tote, and then found this wonderful Duralee geometric pattern with turquoise and orange in it. Though many clients would be afraid to use such a bold pattern, this client was daring enough to use it on the window treatments. My favorite kind of person! The fabric on the bed is Donghia—more subtle with intricate designs that complemented the bold area rug.
DCMud: What about the art which, in the best sense, appears almost indistinguishable from the space—as if it was born there.
Freedman: It’s another piece by Susan Finsen—a spectacular artist in our region.
DCMud: How did you design spaces for family fun in this residence?
Freedman: Because the game room is adjacent to the great room, we used a deeper caramel color (seen in the tote bag) which flatters the rich-looking pool table. The client already had a suspended art deco light fixture. She and her family are avid baseball fans, and coincidentally Susan Finsen had designed these silkscreens of baseball fields around the country, so she custom colorized them for this space.
DCMud: Embracing your color addiction, it seems you might be drawn to D.C. spaces that speak to this.
Freedman: One of my favorite parts of D.C. is the area of 14th and U Streets. I absolutely love jazz, both of my sons are jazz musicians, and the area is riddled with jazz clubs. We also love the great restaurants there, particularly Masa 14 and Estadio. What I love about Masa 14 is the juxtaposition of natural wood finishes, brick and metal, and the use of black, with a pop of red in the simple pendant light fixtures. It’s got that urban modern aesthetic going on with exposed metal ductwork. It feels hip, modern and earthy all at the same time.
photos courtesy of Anice Hoachlander
photos courtesy of Anice Hoachlander