Connie LaMont believes the best design incorporates what makes her clients happy—
and she follows this advice in her own home
By Tammy Adamson-McMullen
Interior designer Connie LaMont believes there is one rule that supersedes all others in good home design: Surround yourself with the things you love.
As owner of LaMont Design Inc. in Poulsbo, Wash., and one of the top-rated interior designers in the area, Connie is familiar with the other rules of good design—those pertaining to flow, balance, scale and proportion. But these are secondary, she says, to helping clients define what makes them happy.
“Creating a beautiful space is fun and easy, but creating happiness at the end of a project is crucial,” Connie says. “My goal is to create interiors for my clients that they didn’t know they could have.”
IN HER OWN HOME
Connie and her architect husband, Wayne, have followed this “happy design” philosophy in their own home.
Wayne designed the three-story, 2,300-square-foot home nearly 25 years ago on several acres of wooded land. Wayne created an open-floor concept with a great room as its centerpiece. The great room features vaulted ceilings, an abundance of windows that allow an impressive view of the woods beyond and a large attached kitchen—perfect for entertaining. Wayne says he felt comfortable in creating the great room, which was a fairly new concept back in the 1990s when he designed it, because, “I knew Connie could decorate it.”
Connie notes that the home is a continual work in progress and has undergone several remodels and redesigns. Her goal with each one? To create an ambiance of acceptance and comfort. “I give 100 percent of my energy to clients on a daily basis,” she states, “and what I want to come home to is exactly that: acceptance and complete comfort.”
In achieving this goal, Connie leans toward both nature-inspired elements and “luxe” furnishings. “I’m drawn to earthy, organic colors and materials," Connie says. "And I love to pair that with things that glimmer and cast off light."
On the earthy side, the home features warm colors of maize and charcoal; carbonized bamboo flooring; dark granite counter tops; silk flower arrangements; and house plants. On the luxe side are collections of art glass; floor and table lamps with shell shades; a collection of glass and crystal candle holders; a sectional that Connie reupholstered in five vintage velvet fabrics; and LED twinkle lights she has woven through the houseplants.
Additionally, “I love to create vignettes—not from shopped items but from reclaimed, loved items,” Connie says, noting that she encourages clients to create these vignettes, too. Connie’s vignettes are made up of items—both nature-inspired and luxe—that have special meaning for her. Examples include:
One of the couple’s favorite spaces is the kitchen, which has always been focal point of family activity and entertaining. The room has undergone several transformations over the years. In the most recent, Connie painted the cabinets a deep black shade. Then she took paintings on canvas—which she had purchased in multiples on her shopping travels—and stretched them across the glass panels in the front of each one.
The paintings, which feature broad strokes of blue and turquoise, have a watery appearance, so Connie was careful to install them in a way that enhances their flow and movement. Connie also was careful to choose paintings that were specified as indoor/outdoor, so that they would stand up to the rigors of an active kitchen.
The cabinet fronts work well with the wall color in the kitchen nook—a blue-green that Connie says is her current favorite (although she admits that her favorite colors change all the time). The color is “Galapagos Turquoise” from Benjamin Moore, which Connie describes as “a deep, wet turquoise.”
Elsewhere, Connie has experimented with colors that highlight favorite art pieces. In the sitting area, for example, she painted an accent wall in a deep charcoal to showcase an original abstract. On a wall in the dining room, she worked with a painter to create a multi-color acid-etched finish, which brings out the colors of an oil painting on the wall as well as the textiles in the bench and basket below.
Connie notes that she constantly reinvents the wheel with her redesigns. Decorating, she says, is a lot like composing music. “Music is just that—it’s music, but the sound of each song can be always new and alive,” she says. “This is how I view what I do. Design should always be personal, but most importantly, alive…”
HELPING CLIENTS DO THE SAME
In helping clients find their own design nirvana, Connie encourages them to do as she has done: Bring into view the elements that bring the most pleasure. Family heirlooms, vacation souvenirs, photos, children’s artwork, odd collectibles, bits and pieces found in nature, favorite paint colors, luxurious fabrics—all of these and more are possibilities for happy design.
Sometimes, however, clients have trouble understanding what will make them happy. As an example, Connie tells the story of a client who had trouble choosing a color scheme and balked when Connie suggested incorporating a blue-green color.
“Why would you suggest that color?” the client demanded. “Because you’ll love it,” Connie replied, unfazed. “How do you know?” the customer demanded again. In response, Connie pointed to framed artwork in the home—all of which was matted in the same blue-green. The client was amazed at Connie’s observation and realized she had selected the blue-green color time and time again without thinking. On reflection, though, the client conceded that she loved the color and ultimately was thrilled with the paint scheme Connie provided for her.
Connie has similar stories that point to the importance of customers finding the “sweet spot” in their décor choices. The lesson in all of them? “Surround yourself with colors and objects that give back to you,” she says. “Don’t worry about making others happy. If you’re happy, then the joy will spread.”