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How Photographer Kara Mercer Brought Her Airy Aesthetic to a Historic Home

how-photographer-kara-mercer-brought-her-airy-aesthetic-to-a-historic-home

When Kara Mercer and her husband first moved into their home, they loved all the historic detailing, but they also wanted to keep things fresh and modern. With her love of natural light (she’s a photographer after all) and more modern, minimalist design, Kara decided to keep things simple. The effect? Every space has a pared-down and airy feel to it, but with depth and details that keep things feeling welcoming and cozy for their small family.

In the living room, basic modern furnishings are combined with pieces that Kara has brought back from travel. She showcases them on her bookshelf, where they really shine.

“We love to have pieces that matter and not just bought at a store. Little reminders of travels to Morocco, Portugal, Scotland, Jordan, and more. We like to surround ourselves with memories of experiences and places, which is why its been important to carry home little knick knacks!”

To compliment them, she’s layered in touches of Moroccan rugs and pillows, creating a quietly eclectic space. My personal favorite element in here might be the coffee table whose smokey glass top combined with brass really elevates the room.

While some might be tempted to squeeze a large table into the formal dining room, Kara quickly discovered that smaller was better.

“We had a big table in here and it just didn’t work. When we added this piece from Sundays, the room just opened up more, and I love the statement it makes! The stools are so great too. They’re so different.”

Adding this statement piece surprisingly helped the flow of the space too –  making it a practical as well as beautiful choice for the room. The petite chandelier is a fun play on scale, and keeps the table as the focal point.

The house was built in 1910, with many prior owners, but the only space they personally renovated in their three and a half years here was the kitchen, again opting for a more minimalist style. The dark cabinets ground the space, while the only storage above remains open shelves for displaying favorite items. In a small nook, Kara added a floor to ceiling cupboard for a pantry. No uppers helps the space feel super light – a reoccurring theme, if you haven’t noticed! 

The low window made this spot an obvious choice for a little bench seat. While they can’t fit a full size table here, Kara calls it her ‘coffee nook’.  The perfect space for a morning in the sunshine, or a spot for guests to hang out while cooking, since there’s no kitchen island.

The small bedroom downstairs is her daughter, Marlowe’s, playroom where – Kara admits – she’s gone overboard in sourcing toys to match her own preferred aesthetic. You’ll find no pink plastic or overflowing toy chests here! Just the cutest mini kitchenette and tented nook you’ve ever seen.

The daybed headboard was custom made and provides the perfect backdrop for cozying up to read books.

Upstairs, the spacious master bedroom offers plenty of room for the family to hang out. While the space feels quite bright, the windows are actually very small – only two of these little window nooks offer natural light. So, Kara painted it all white – in theme with the rest of the house – and kept the palette minimal while layering lots of textiles. I love the woven shades that she’s used here and in Marlowe’s room, and the rattan chair! They add a much needed touch of natural texture to the room. And how fun is that dresser? Another great example of more sculptural or whimsical shapes bringing so much to a space.

Having recently listed their home, Kara reminisced: “We loved the coziness of the master room and dome shape. Winter mornings were the best there! Marlowe was brought home to this house, and it’s where she learned to crawl and walk, which will always make this home so special.”

Personally, I can’t wait to see what they do with their next home! The bonus of minimalist, neutral furnishings? They – for the most part – will pop right into their new space with ease.

What do you think?

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