IN THE FAST LANE

It’s been hopelessly dreary in Raleigh these past two days. It was perfect for a lazy Sunday spent curled up on the couch indulging in a Suits marathon (speculating about whether Rachel aka Meghan Markle might be the next addition to the royal family, naturally) but now it’s time to be productive and I’m ready for brighter days ahead.

To resist the urge to crawl back into bed with a good book (I’m in need of recs, btw), let’s jump start the week with a colorful home recently featured in Garden & Gun and designed by the wildly talented–and fellow North CarolinianBarrie Benson.

If, like me, you’re uninitiated into the world of stock-car racing, it may surprise you to learn that this stunning residence is home to NASCAR superstar, Jimmie Johnson and his model, turned gallery owner wife, Chandra. Not exactly, Talladega Nights, right?

The project proved to be the perfect collaboration between designer and client. Chandra’s collector’s eye paired with Barrie’s design knowledge and talent resulted in a completely original home studded with pieces from some of biggest names in midcentury design.

The dining room might be my favorite room in the home, and I find myself returning to this photo often for inspiration. Sorbet colored walls, silk drapes, and a stylized brass dogwood sconce add notes of levity to the more formal cognac leather chairs, dining table, and crystal chandelier.

The real standout, however, is the ceiling installation painted by Durham, North Carolina artist, Damien Stamer. It’d be hard for me to keep my eyes on my plate as a dinner guest!

Moving into the living room, a peach velvet sofa mixes with Gio Ponti wingbacks and a Serge Mouille light fixture. The carved stone mantle against the antiqued mirrored fireplace breast is also an inspiring moment.

Can’t we all agree (and hopefully convince our husbands) that a fantastic piece of art above the mantle is such a better choice than a flat screen? I’m curious if they might have a TV hidden in the wardrobe at left.

The bar is another bright spot in the home. The turquoise slab front drawers with their brushed brass pulls offset the traditional de Gournay hand painted paper perfectly. Personally, I find that mixing styles–traditional/modern, masculine/feminine–enhances my appreciation of the individual components. The contrast allows each to shine without blending in or falling flat.

Be sure to visit Chandra’s gallery, SOCO Gallery. I haven’t made it out to Charlotte yet, but a visit is definitely on my to-do list!

BARRIE BENSON

Barrie Benson

Barrie Benson

Barrie Benson

Barrie Benson

Barrie Benson

Charlotte based interior designer, Barrie Benson, is the newest addition to my ever growing list of design idols. I admire her effortless ability to inject color and pattern into her spaces in a way that is still elegant and sophisticated.

These are just a few of my favorite shots from her portfolio. Aren’t they lovely? One day I’d like to bring the same vibrancy to an old row home here on Capitol Hill. Until then, I’ll just keep taking notes from Barrie.