Thankfully—finally!—color has been cropping up on lists of the latest trends in home decor. Pantone’s heart-bursting Color of the Year, Viva Magenta, may have helped usher that in, and maybe the pink-laden hit movie Barbie had something to do with it, too. Or maybe the subdued whisper of gray and beige just got boring, and we want to look at something a little bolder and brighter.
For homeowner Terri Milikin, dramatic interiors have long been her baseline. With the help of local interior designer Quentin MacDonald, who works with Clive Daniel in Sarasota, her new Siesta Key home sings with patterns, stripes, colors, textiles and a touch of vintage warmth.
“So many people want to follow others, but Terri is willing to take risks to the point of seeing something doesn’t work and starting over,” MacDonald says.
Milikin and her husband bought their home in 2016 for $1.75 million. It was one of those original ranch-style types, probably built in the 1950s—the ones with a block exterior and low ceilings.
“It was super cute, and we bought it for the location and the water view, but the home would never be what we wanted,” Milikin says. They attempted to renovate and update it, but ultimately, it just didn’t work. So they tore it down and started from scratch. “It was such a privilege because we got to work on it from the structural level,” says MacDonald.
It’s also a departure from what he’s more accustomed to seeing in the local industry.
Located at 899 Freeling Drive, the home—which took about two years to complete—is now a romantic Mediterranean with arches, balconies and lush ivy hugging the walls. But inside is where the drama starts.
Originally from Savannah, Georgia, Milikin, 60, credits her unique sense of style, in part, to a good dose of travel. She and her family lived in Richmond, Virginia, and Winter Park, Florida. They spent a couple of years in Brussels, where she fell in love with antiques and the ease of grabbing a train to visit nearby countries, where she covered lots of ground and style. She’s also a fan of the Palm Beach aesthetic, which is crazy about tropical touches and bold shades of green, one of her favorite colors.
Due to her husband’s job, which demanded lots of moving around, the Milikens have built 12 homes over the years, so she’s had some practice. While some people view the process as work, Milikin sees it as fun.
“She enjoys putting things together and she’s playful,” MacDonald says. “She would plop down, criss-cross applesauce, and we’d pore over textiles and patterns.”
To wit: You’ll see leopard print and blue tiger stripes, wallpaper that outshines any hanging art, and a green lacquered room that looks like the walls are finished in glass. Bed skirts, previously considered dated, are updated here in chic patterns.
Milikin is unsure of what the whole project ultimately cost, but the Sarasota County appraiser’s website has seen the home more than double its assessed value in just one year.
Get the Look
Want to get this colorful look, but not sure where to start? Here are some takeaway tips from Quentin MacDonald.
Counter the Color Wheel
“The color wheel is limiting because it doesn’t include white, black or brown, or take texture into account,” MacDonald says. “A green velvet versus a green sateen treats the color differently. The color wheel oversimplifies things; you need to get more tactile. To go bold, you can’t just think color on color.”
Patterns Can Co-habitate
Remember how we’ve been told not to mix plaid and stripes? Well, maybe we were wrong. The trick is looking at scale. “Larger patterns can sing with a tighter pattern,” MacDonald explains.
Take a Risk
Paint isn’t forever. If you hate it, you can change it. “We have a lot of people moving here from up north to start a new chapter, and it’s time to let loose,” MacDonald says. “Buy the convertible if you want it! If you want something crazy in your house, do it.”
Milikin’s vintage wood pieces act as anchors throughout the home, and tell a story about a place and the journey that brought her to find it. “Natural things always look good, so choose cotton over polyester, for example, and bring in woods with trays or furniture,” MacDonald says.
Hang photos you took, or a painting by an old friend. If you love music, frame and hang band posters. If you like motorcycles, get a poster of one. If you’re proud of the sports car in the garage, include it somewhere in your home.
Trust in Textiles
“We have [performance-grade] everything right now that allows you to spill wine on your sofa and cleans up well, but I miss linen, sateen, velvet, and leather,” MacDonald says. “Bringing in those fabrics can add a lot of depth to a room that feels flat when everything is the same single textile.”
“I avoid trends,” MacDonald says. “Saying, ‘White cabinets are out’ isn’t fair after you’ve spent a bunch of money on a new kitchen. I would love it if more people followed their hearts. There’s interior design for resale value, then there’s interior design for you. I would rather do the ‘you’ thing. What makes him sad, he says, is seeing a house someone paid a lot for, but “you get no sense of who they are” when you go inside.