A Perfect Marriage

Designer Ana Donohue merges a couple’s divergent styles to create a vibrant, multilayered decor scheme that feels both sophisticated and fun. 

Just inside the front door, the living room is relatively small and accesses the dining room, so smaller barrel chairs are placed with other curved pieces to create winding routes through the space.

A print of falling bird feathers found at High Point Market hangs above a Roche Bobois credenza painted turquoise, the homeowner’s favorite color.

Donohue opted for mirrors to reflect the mix of bold colors, shapes and textures in the dining room.  

Located off of the garage, the mudroom has new wood built-ins that offer storage under the bench, on hooks and in bins above. The striped Roman shade is made of Duralee fabric. 

The powder room features vibrant-hued Thibaut grass cloth wallpaper; the vanity is painted in high gloss car paint for dramatic impact. 

In the family room, a vertical red-brick fireplace was replaced by a firebox with a horizontal surround of handpainted terra-cotta tile. Donahue liked the unexpectedness of the assymetrical placement of the firebox and she complicated the room’s neutral palette with pattern on pattern, as with the chaise fabric next to the tile pattern. 

There was no question that Corey and Dina Saltin were going to ask interior designer Ana Donohue to renovate the interior of their Southborough home. Donohue had helped with their previous home, and they both found her a pleasure. This was a decided plus for a couple who share a profession—she’s an OB-GYN, and he’s in pulmonary and critical care—but not always a design sensibility. Dina inclines to modern, while Corey veers toward traditional, though they both wanted a stylish house with family-friendly rooms for their two young children.

Rather than be challenged by her clients’ differences, Donohue found it advantageous. The couple was “open to merging styles,” she says. Even though Dina’s favorite color is turquoise—as evidenced in picks she made for a powder room vanity, foyer credenza and select bathroom tile—she thinks of herself as favoring neutrals. Sensing a possibility in this conflict, Donohue persuaded her to try bold color, pattern and texture, allowing for rooms that are sophisticated yet playful. 

Donohue also made decisions to improve the flow of the expanded Cape Cod-style home and open up spaces. Southborough-based builder Jim Marrazzo replaced a full wall between the kitchen and family room with a half-wall that became a bar. He also removed bookcases that defined the space between the living room and dining room, and added iron-framed windows and doors that provide views of the wooded backyard from the family room and kitchen.

Molding and wall paneling were added to the stairway, and living and dining rooms to create a more formal appeal. Additionally, the dining room received a cove ceiling and Roche Bobois furniture with French-inspired curves. “We still wanted to make the rooms fun and inviting, and not too fussy,” says Donohue, who had two of the dining room chairs upholstered in fuchsia and eight in pistachio green—hues that were inspired by the multicolored cut velvet S. Harris fabric on living room barrel chairs. Textural elements include animal hide rugs, and the stacked stone fireplace hearth and fireplace surround that replaced the old, traditional brick.

A grid of circular mirrors hangs on the dining room wall and an antiqued floor mirror rests against a living room wall. “The mirrors expand the room,” Donohue says, “while keeping the focus on the forms and colors within the interior.” For that same focus, Donohue kept the living room walls and silk taffeta drapes white and picked abstract art with just a touch of color for the dining room walls. In other rooms, though, she went bold with the art colors, as with a red and black chicken in the kitchen, which is otherwise neutral with two kinds of custom cabinetry (stained red birch and gray maple).

In the black-and-white family room, Donohue played with textures and patterns rather than hue, though the shag rug has a purple tinge and the two golden Barcelona chairs (from the Saltins’ previous house) offer contrast to the prevailing palette. Donohue chose Robert Allen cocktail tables because with their tops removed, they can become ottomans, and one of her “go-to pieces,” a Lee Industries black chaise with a white pattern. In lieu of a “bulky ottoman and chair,” she says, “the chaise is incredibly comfortable and can easily tuck into corners.” The room’s fireplace box sits asymmetrically in a horizontal fireplace wall of handpainted terra-cotta tile. The patterned tile with its old-world, almost Moroccan feel, references the floor tile in the powder room and children’s bathroom, and is part of “the European sensibility” Donohue says she wanted to introduce into the house.

The Saltins lived in the home for three years before they started the renovation, and they redid the basement before the ground floor, sectioning off areas for a workout room, playroom, media room, sitting area, game room and kitchenette, and then adding a full bath. When they tackled the main level, the basement became the family’s temporary quarters.

The upcoming plan is to reconfigure the Saltins’ bedroom into a master suite and bath with an office. Donohue says the process has been entirely organic, with one idea leading to the next: “We started with one room and took off that room, and parlayed that into another.” Even so, she says, “I always think about how a room is going to translate and connect visually, even if I am doing only one or two rooms for a client. I am always thinking about the home as a whole.”

Single-family home


Ana Donohue Interiors

Metropolitan Cabinets and Countertops

Living room barrel chairs

Currey & Company
Kitchen chandelier

Family room fireplace surround

Living room chaise

Lee Industries
Family room chaise

Osborne & Little
Piano bench and living room pillow fabric, mudroom wallpaper

Robert Allen
Living room chaise fabric

Roche Bobois
Dining room table, chairs and buffet

Powder room vanity, children’s bathroom sconces