Lisa Sherry gave her clients’ family heirlooms fresh life while infusing some big city style throughout this Charlotte home.
interior design by lisa sherry interieurs
interview by alice welsh doyle
photographs by ron royals
When you visit the home of lisa and scott yarbrough, you instantly want to go exploring like a little child. It is hard to maintain decorum because you see glimpses into other rooms as you are greeted in the foyer. And just like a child, you feel yourself jumping up and down albeit internally. “Is that a mirrored wall in the powder bath that I see down the hall? Where did that cool collection of plates grouped on the staircase wall come from? I need that lamp!” And you will want to steal ideas left and right because when interior design is done right, it should create some envy-inducing spaces. And doing it right means understanding your client. The Yarbroughs moved to Charlotte after living in New York and London. “Lisa was a city girl, so she needed a look that was collected, layered, and urban with eclectic touches, and color. The Yarbroughs have two school-age boys, so that was a consideration as well. She had a whole file of things she loved and a lot of family heirlooms,” says designer Lisa Sherry.
Family heirlooms can be a mixed blessing, but in Yarbrough’s case, she inherited outstanding pieces from both grandparents – many in coveted Lucite just begging to be put to use in a fresh way. “My grandmother Verna had great taste, and everything she did was stylish. I even have her Lucite silverware,” says Yarbrough. The Yarbroughs also had some French furniture and accessories, which Scott loves because it reminds him of his native New Orleans. And Yarbrough wasn’t just open to reupholstering her heirlooms; she was open to totally transforming them. “Lisa took a dark walnut hutch, and sent it out to be lacquered in white. It looks like a totally different piece,” says Yarbrough. “It takes some bravado to totally change an old piece like that, but she was up for it, so we were able to incorporate more of her family collection,” says Sherry.
Both designer and client also appreciate the transforming nature of a “just right” fabric, which in this case turned out to be a cut velvet zebra print in a vibrant coral pink hue. “I absolutely love this fabric,” says Yarbrough. “It totally transformed the room in a way I did not think possible and made it my favorite spot in the house.” Yarbrough also appreciates the arrangement and placement of the furniture and accessories in her revamped living room. “This is a long and narrow room, so you have to carefully consider each piece to ensure that the look is cohesive and flows well,” says Sherry. “Before it felt like three rooms, but now everything works together, and we totally use the whole space,” adds Yarbrough. Sherry unified the spaces with a single rug instead of separate ones as before. She also anchored the room with a custom sofa on a custom mirrored wall and a tête-a-tête chaise placed at an angle towards the back of the room, all united under a metallic silver-painted ceiling.
The smart and stylish ideas continue in the dining room with the oval, more contemporary table set at an angle and a custom, generous banquette and French chairs upholstered in a stripe with the chair backs hand-stamped by Kathryn, one of Sherry’s designers. Sherry discovered the stamp during a trip to France while working on the project. Existing curtains were given a fresh look, and cool details abound as a black lacquered ceiling is set off with a white glass chandelier.
The kitchen was an exercise in patience at times, but well worth the wait. “We had to go through a lot of samples when it came to the custom cabinets with black and gold trim,” says Sherry. The kitchen really has a glamorous feel with the mirrored backsplash, hardware that looks like jewelry, lamps on the counter, Carrera marble, lemon yellow bar stools (one of Sherry’s paint transformations), and a lavender chandelier.
While Sherry works closely with her clients, the finale is when she sends them away to perform her ultimate magic. “It’s like a big reveal,” says Yarbrough. “You leave, and every last detail is put together—all the lighting is installed, the art is hung, and the accessories arranged just so. When we returned home, the children’s reaction was like we had just won the lottery! They were running around touching everything and exclaiming over each piece. It’s like they got it— everything looked authentic.” Which is exactly as it should be.
Lisa Sherry Style
1. Don’t be too precious; you want your rooms to be comfortable above all.
2. Your interiors should look layered and collected – not like you went out and bought everything in one day.
3. In awkward spaces, carefully consider your furniture placement; you may have to be a little more creative like setting pieces on an angle or floating them in the room.
4. A mirrored wall can really open up a room, and the reflected light is lovely as well.
5. If you fall in love with a piece, go ahead and buy it because it is likely that you will find the perfect place for it.
This interview was conducted early 2013.