Alexandra Champalimaud's Favorite Shade of Red

Alexandra Champalimaud's Favorite Shade of Red | LonnyPh. © Angelica Domingo/Lonny
In the decade since interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud and her husband Bruce Schnitzer moved to Litchfield, Connecticut, the couple has made it their mission to preserve the original architecture and history of the community. In fact, it was their own home that spurred their involvement: built in 1753 by Oliver Wolcott Sr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the residence is the oldest standing property in the town and has been listed as a National Historic Landmark. So when it came to refurbishing and decorating the interiors, Champalimaud restored the faded walls of every room with a color palette true to the region's 18th-century traditions. Her favorite space of all? The red library.

Alexandra Champalimaud's Favorite Shade of Red | Lonny
Ph. © Angelica Domingo/Lonny
"The red of the library stands out in particular to me because there are many examples throughout history of indigenous cultures and places other than New England that use this same red," says Champalimaud. "It has to do with the original pigments and minerals of the landscape that were available to the people." Historically, red ochre was abundant along river banks of the U.S., Canada, and Northern Mexico. Vegetables and roots such as beets and bloodwort were also used by native residents of these regions for decorative, religious, and ceremonial painting. (Source: The Materiality of Color, Ashgate Pub Co).

While on holiday in Bhutan, Champalimaud discovered that an almost identical red hue originated in this Himalayan country. Enamored by the artwork she saw during her trip, Bhutanese culture became Champalimaud's primary inspiration for the decor of her guest pool house.

Alexandra Champalimaud's Favorite Shade of Red | LonnyPh. © Tim Street Porter/Lonny"I wanted to bring a more fantastical, fun, yet sophisticated element to the pool house," Champalimaud says. "I was enchanted to see the similarities of the colors in Bhutan and the colors in New England, while noticing the differences in pattern and usage."  

Alexandra Champalimaud's Favorite Shade of Red | LonnyPh. © Tim Street Porter/LonnyInstead of painting the walls as she did in the library, Champalimaud injected the warm brick hue throughout the space with clever accents. Color-blocked curtains replace doors and lend an energizing plane of saturation to the pantry and bathroom area; hand-painted motifs that border the north wall are based on ancient Bhutanese artwork. Modern additions, like the framed triptych and the designer's favorite books, blend seamlessly into the color scheme. 

While both the main building and guest house have a unique layout, both feel cohesive thanks to the common palette; they're also grounded with historic references and outfitted with traditional American and antique furniture. Champalimaud adds, "This color makes me feel like I'm in a much larger space than I truly am. It’s very nurturing."

Alexandra Champalimaud's Favorite Shade of Red | Lonny
Ph. © Tim Street Porter/Lonny
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