Home: Color Theory

Minimalist design has a reputation for being cold and untouchable, but Paula Hian breaks every hard-edged rule in her warm and welcoming town home. She keeps her spaces clean, but layers rich colors and textures to put her own spin on modern essentials.

White walls and blonde maple floors are a creamy backdrop to pale lavender chairs and a turquoise leather loveseat with flared arms by Italian designer Poltrona Frau. “These hues of lavender and turquoise just spoke to me,” says Hian.

The pastels are heightened by a dramatic absence of embellishment, although Hian strayed from this palette in the master bedroom, which is brightened by an unexpected shock of orange — “Orange is such a vibrant and happy color,” she says — and the black and stainless-steel kitchen. “I really wanted a harder contrast in the kitchen,” she says. “It’s a nice change from the soft tones of the other spaces.”

The no-frills room has gleaming granite countertops under Shaker-inspired pale maple cabinets — bare, gleaming countertops that seem rarely used because they aren’t. “I’ve only used the oven once,” says Hian. “I don’t really cook, so just a microwave and coffee-
maker are fine. Clutter in the office can be messy, but not at home. You have to be able to sleep at night.”

Hian often borrows colors and patterns from her clothing line, notably a curvi-linear shape present in her latest spring collection, which debuted on Paris runways this year. The line repeats through the house, in the curve of a Philippe Stark mirror, the geometric area rugs she made with rug designer Christine Vonderheide, the rounded headboard of her bed, and the sinuous aluminum and glass light fixture in the kitchen.

Sometimes the crossover is more transparent. A striking pair of abstract drawings in the dining room are, on closer inspection, patterns from one of Hian’s earlier collections. “Edwin Jesberger, one of my pattern cutters for years, made the most beautiful patterns,” she says. “They’re artwork. Perfect and precise down to the writing.”

The same could be said of Hian’s streamlined spaces, from the dressmaker details of a Ligne Roset pleated-leather sofa to crisply tailored Roman shades. “I love clean lines without many details,” she says. “You don’t need a lot of extras. Just keep it simple by adding interest with color, texture or shape.”

In the master bath, iridescent glass tile from Devon Tile & Design Studio, who also supplied the black tumbled marble for the bathroom floor, shimmers like water. “I loved going shopping for the tiles because it was so much like my fabric buying trips for the clothing line,” says Hian. “When I see something I like, I get it. If it works in your mind, it will probably come together beautifully
at home.”