Design Master Class Tips and Tricks from N&O Design Team ProsDesign Master Class Carole Marcotte and Mary Leigh McDonald

Stylish but child-friendly

February 21, 2014 

  • About the designers

    Carole Marcotte, owner of Form & Function, holds an Honors B.A. in communications from York University, Toronto. She moved to Raleigh in 1987, working in marketing and officially beginning her life as a serial renovator. Marcotte launched her design firm eight years ago.

    Mary Leigh McDonald, a Richmond, Va., native and a 2013 graduate of the interior design program at Meredith College in Raleigh, joined Form & Function for the launch of the retail store in June.

  • Design Master Class

    N&O Design Team members who will share their expertise twice a month in Home & Garden are all members of the Alliance of Interior Designers, a group of Triangle-area professionals. Learn more at

The challenge

This newly built home in Chapel Hill is a modern play on Craftsman design with an open layout and distinctive architectural features. Two busy doctors requested a comfortable family room that reflected a stylish decor but also welcomed the antics of two active boys and a dog. Here’s the inviting result.

Super space

The room was already painted in a pleasing gray color that acted as a neutral backdrop. While the owner also had wonderful foundation pieces, including furniture and a sisal rug, they left the room in a sea of beige. Our goal was to inject color, texture and interest with custom pillows, custom drapes, an area rug and lamps.

We first scheduled a redesign day when we experimented with the layout, tightening the furniture grouping for better flow and conversation. We positioned the homeowners’ books and accessories high upon shelves, making the room child-friendly and adding color.

We then picked a rug to create the basis for our new color palette. The rug has a thin line of tan, referencing the couches, but also injects a jolt of blue and an interesting geometric fret pattern. The fabrics for the pillows add two more patterns, an ikat and a floral, also repeating the colors. The linen drapes provide neutral relief and a small band of tape that has a subtle swirl pattern in a lighter shade of blue and cream. The layering effect of color and pattern bring the room to life.

Our final task was to address the lighting. Lamps were placed to form a triangle of ambient and task lighting around the room, complementing the overhead recessed lighting. The three lamps also add more color and shape (blue-gray gourd table lamp, shapely white floor lamp and silver stacked ball floor lamp) and differing scale to the room.

The result is a space that’s both child-friendly and stylish, satisfying all the needs of this modern, vibrant family.

Terrific trick

When styling a bookshelf, remember the books! We incorporated some, leaving room for future books, along with carefully chosen accessories. Books were grouped according to color – some standing and some stacked horizontally. We pulled color from the design scheme, repeating the blue in the Foo Dogs and the book spines. Mercury glass accents repeat the silver in the floor lamp. The resulting cohesive bookshelf still leaves room for a young couple to add to their collection in future years.

Not by the book

To layer or not to layer? Instead of getting rid of a perfectly good sisal rug, we opted to layer our new, colorful patterned rug over it. It provides the basis for our design scheme and a softer landing for little feet.

Form & Function

1914 Bernard St., Raleigh

919-831-2838 or

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