House Tours: A Colorful Cottage

HGTV Magazine gives a surprising room-by-room look inside designer Karen Bow's colorful home, jam-packed with personality.

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Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Color-Packed Inspiration

Karen Bow, an interior designer who worked for Jonathan Adler during her home renovation, says, \"When people first come into our house, it's like 'bam!' I just love that feeling of surprise.\" Her daring decorating style is catching. Even friends with mostly monochromatic homes get inspired to perk up their own place after visiting. \"Color makes everybody happy,\" she says. \"I think people get infected by it.\"

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Classic Exterior

Luckily the whole family was on board with her gutsy vision. Drive down the Darien, Conn., street where Karen lives with her husband Tom, and their 16-year-old daughter, Melanie, and you probably wouldn't think twice about the lovely Dutch barn Colonial. Outside, it's a classic white charmer.

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Snazzy Family Room

But once you step inside? Whoa! Fuchsia! Orange! Flowers! Everywhere! The Bow's home wasn't always so bold. In fact, the family lived there for 12 years before taking the color plunge. \"I wanted my home to make me smile,\" says Karen. She upholstered the sofas with a fuchsia wool-blend fabric, then ran with a hot pink theme throughout the house. In the family room, Karen balanced the bright shade with brown — in the rug; the pillows; and the curtains, which, if you look closely, are actually made of a large-scale bird-and-floral print.

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Dramatic Dining Room

The ceiling molding pattern was inspired by Karen's past work in theater and set design. \"Only later did I realize why it was so familiar,\" she says. \"The design is in almost every theater I've ever been in!\" She chose the wood and leather low-back chairs to add some masculinity to the room.

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Pretty Eating Area

A vintage settee and traditional chairs sit around the table, a walnut and glass midcentury number. Karen covered one wall with the same print that's on the family-room curtains. \"I like that the colors are quieter in this nook,\" she says. \"It's the perfect spot to drink coffee and read the paper.\"

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Jazzy Bar

Karen keeps the super-glossy lacquer bar stocked with glasses and drink fixings so she's always ready for pop-in guests.

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Poppy Kitchen

Neutrals dominate in the kitchen with white Caesarstone countertops, earthy cabinets, and a stainless steel tile backsplash. But you didn't think she'd forget her fuchsia, did you? Glass pendants and a Tootsie Pop print by Todd Lim help tie the kitchen to the open family room.

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Zippy Mud Room

Karen put her own stamp on the wallpaper in this mud/laundry/back door area, creating the pattern with her friend Given Campbell, a wallpaper designer. They hand-stamped the flowers, but Karen didn't like how they turned out, so she changed course and cut out more than 200 daisies, which she appliquéd to the paper instead. She had the baskets sprayed orange at an auto paint shop.

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Playful Powder Room

The shimmery floor-to-ceiling mosaic glass tiles tend to mesmerize kids, especially little girls. \"It's not unusual for them to disappear in there for a while. Kids just seem to really get the joy in this room,\" says Karen.

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Spunky Bedroom

Daughter Melanie helped design her own bedroom. The headboard is medium-density fiberboard (MDF) wainscoting painted orange, and the giraffe sconces were mounted directly on it for easy reading in bed. The silhouette of Lola, the family's Pekingese, is by artist Carter Kustera.

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Sparkly Guest Room

An extra bedroom has orange and gold Mylar wallpaper, which Karen's guests get a real kick out of. A silhouette of Melanie by Carter Kustera hangs in the hallway. Carter always includes a handwritten line about his subject; Melanie's says, \"laughs at her own jokes.\"

Photography by Max Kim-Bee; styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Funky Music Corner

Melanie (who has played the guitar since she was 6) picked out the chartreuse egg chair when she was 12, and she still loves it. \"I'm definitely taking it with me when I get my own place one day,\" she says. The dotty rug, a customized Jonathan Adler design, has hues that jibe with Melanie's color scheme. While it did take longer than buying the in-stock version, customizing the colors personalizes the room even more.

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Get the Look: Magenta Seating

Handy Living Nate slipper chair in magenta, $200, wayfair.com

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Get the Look: Pillow That Pops

Rizzy Home throw pillow, $38, bedding.com

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Get the Look: Floral Curtains

Aviary in Earth by Thomas Paul, $37 per yard, calicocorners.com

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Get the Look: Spotted Rug

Polka-dot 5' x 8' rug, $360, safaviehhome.com

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Get the Look: Graphic Bench

X bench, 20 1/4\"W x 20 1/2\"D x 21\"H, upholstered in Camargo Lattice, $275, ballarddesigns.com

From left: Greg Marino/Studio D; Alison Gootee/Studio D

Get the Look: Bold Silhouettes

Carter Kustera Pop 9\" x 7\" portraits, from $110, carterkustera.com

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Get the Look: Fun Lighting

Jonathan Adler Giraffe sconce, $185, lampsplus.com

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Get the Look: Pink Pendant

Pahu 8-cable pendant in amethyst, $405, ylighting.com

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