A bright and joyful American country house with interiors by Elizabeth Hay

Called to bring personality to a new-build house in Connecticut, Elizabeth Hay applied her clever blend of bright colours and patterned fabrics to enliven the blank canvas and make it suitable for every season

“The owners wanted every room to have its own character,” she continues, so that some are light and cool while others make use of richer, deeper colours. The owners were keen, for example, that the main bedroom be a place of soft colours and gentle pattern, so Elizabeth devised a scheme of blues and green-greys, with an elegant half-tester bed that brings the right scale for the high, pitched ceilings of the room. The spare room, on the other hand, is a vision in deep sage greens with red and mustard accents in the textiles. The Le Manach fabric on the curtains and the upholstery of the sofa in that room is a particular favourite. “I love fabrics that have their own border within the pattern,” she enthuses. Each bedroom has a neatly matching bathroom that echoes the colours and designs in the bedroom, making it a truly jewel-box-like series of spaces.

Elizabeth's team designed the joinery, which has Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler's ‘Squiggle’ wallpaper as a backdrop.

Matthew Kissiday

The owners shared with Elizabeth an interest in the vibrant colours and imagery of Asia; the husband had lived in Hong Kong and travelled extensively around the continent, especially in India. It was the latter country that particularly sparked their imagination, so that India has become a thread running through the decoration of the house. Tigers and palms, peacocks and block-printed flowers bustle through the textiles and art in each room. An antique Indian textile has been stretched and framed to form the centrepiece in the nursery (now about to welcome the couple’s second child), while a vintage batik tiger seems to guard the sofa in the family room, prowling on a backdrop of grasscloth wallcovering.

If the idea of putting together a scheme with all this pattern and colour seems daunting to the everyman, for Elizabeth it is breezily instinctive. “I tend to start with a hero fabric, and then once that’s in place I avoid anything else on the same scale. I find it’s possible to judge the balance of it all in my mind before we’ve even started ordering the fabrics. You can tweak it, of course, once all the main elements are in, but most of it is there from the start.” It’s a skill that comes through long experience, practice and plenty of hard work, but the results are a joyful breath of fresh air.

elizabethhaydesign.com | Styling by Frances Bailey