All good interior designers customize their projects according to their client’s vision. But Australian-born Blair Moore takes bespoke creativity to a new level. For example, for a couple with two young children who brought her in to design their main residence in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, she created what she called the Disco Library Lounge. She transformed the previously dark and unappreciated space into a popular gathering spot lined with her vinyl albums. The reason is: “Our clients love old records. Music is their love language and they dance the night away with their kids as a family almost every night. It is one of the most fascinating sights.”
The Disco Library Lounge doubles as a family room on the ground floor of a three-bedroom house built in the 1980s. “The client originally approached our design team to renovate his first floor of the space,” says Moore. “They loved the process so much that they added exterior walls, an upstairs bedroom, and a staircase to the scope of the project while we were in the middle of it.”
The floors look a little different, the first floor is bright and cozy, the second floor is dark and a little stuffy. They are connected by what Moore describes as the MHD aesthetic: a specific look specifically requested by the client. “Our Moore House design aesthetic is layered with vintage and custom pieces combined with a European mid-century modern look, while allowing for client personalization,” explains Moore. “Think of us as refreshing yet comfortable.”
Because the home is located in a waterfront coastal landscape, Moore made sure to incorporate subtle New England elements throughout the soft, mostly neutral decor. This palette complemented numerous mid-century moments. “I personally love European mid-century silhouettes and always looked to the lines and perspective of Vincent Van Duysen and the materiality of Karin Dreijer, both great Belgian designers.” says Moore. “Then I combined my love of vintage textiles and materials.”
While he has a large collection of vintage furniture, Moore did not want to design a home that felt too precious, especially one that would house young children. She wanted her pieces to be soft to the touch so that her family and guests would feel truly at home.
Ultimately, “Creating connections to artifacts both past and present gave this 1980s New England home a new purpose. I really believed in that idea,” she says.
“Our client has a vibrant life with a vibrant young family. We wanted the space to remain quiet and peaceful, yet still feel rooted and earthy. We wanted to do that,” Moore explains. “We chose a slightly Belgian-ish palette that was reminiscent of 1960s color schemes.” The mid-century vibe is complemented by a mushroom stool from Roweam (Moore’s soon-to-be-launched furniture brand), a Bromley sofa, a woven rug, and vintage Metal coffee served on his table.
Moore and her design team worked with Roweam to custom-make the credenza. “We created a kitchen lounge because we wanted the space to not only be an extension of the living room and kitchen, but also feel practical,” she says. The charming vignette includes an Aledolce-style Italian brass floor lamp (sourced from 1stDibs), two Somerset House upholstered chairs, and a custom limestone coffee table.
“The kitchen needed to be a spacious space where guests could work and play,” explains Moore. “This client, a mother of two and a private chef, loves cooking and making crafts with her family.” Inspired by her 1950s pigeonhole desk. Moore used Tadelakt plaster on the walls and backsplash, hand-cast concrete counters from Livingston Concrete Studio, plain sawn and stained oak cabinetry from Troy City Woodwork, and vintage Murray rugs. “The final touch was a collection of curiosities from France and other European cities that my team and I found during our travels,” she says.
This coffee station’s custom cabinetry is worthy of a professional chef.
This lovely dining corner is located to the left of the kitchen at the back of the house. “Our client frequently hosts casual dinner parties with friends and family, so the banquette needed to be a central hub for guests to gather while still being able to withstand their growing family. There was,” Moore explains. She outfitted the space with a custom table by Roweam and a banquette designed by her team at Moore House. The vintage Calimate chair by Vico Magistretti has been reupholstered to complete the look.
The master bedroom goes in a darker direction than the design Moore chose downstairs. “We wanted to capture the mood here, add a bit of juxtaposition to the light-filled first floor, and create a space for our guests to rest and relax,” explains Moore. “We wanted the ceiling to blend into the night sky.” Of course, the existing skylight was fine. As Moore asks, “Who doesn’t want to stare at the stars all night?” She has a point.
Two charming, old-world corners complete the master bedroom suite. “The client wanted their own private retreat, a space where they could read a book or take a call,” says Moore. “The art is a collection of vintage finds. They love boat paintings, and since their home is on the water, I wanted to find an earth-toned painting that would fit into the room’s palette.”
“This is a very small, simple space right off the living room. The goal was to create an indoor-outdoor feel and expand the living room during the warmer months,” explains Moore. Masu. To complete the look, she used a vintage Russell Woodward banquette and new cushions.
beautiful house: What was your previous house like?
Blair Moore: Before the renovation, the house had a classic quarter-colonial exterior and an interior with small, boxy rooms that let in little light. The home was built in the 1980s and was packed with builder-grade finishes, but unfortunately fell victim to the one-room renovations completed over the past few decades. At the back of the house was a small galley kitchen that could accommodate no more than two people at a time. The entrance was narrow and opened directly onto the stairs, which did not allow for generous hospitality.
HB: Did you encounter any memorable problems, challenges, or surprises during the project? How did you pivot?
BM: There was significant water damage to the front door, which was discovered after new windows were installed. We were able to pivot by introducing a pitched roof veranda that matches the exterior structure of other homes on this coastal street. From a customer’s perspective, a balcony significantly increases the appeal and value of your home.
HB: What is the reason/inspiration for the new design? How will you achieve your vision?
BM: The inspiration for the renovation came from an effort to incorporate more modern European elements into a classic colonial home. This was achieved by using materials such as slaked lime plaster on 75% of the ground floor walls. Additionally, hand-carved oak beams adorn the first-floor ceiling, adding a touch of colonial architectural history and adding dimension to the fully open floor plan.
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