Even for Lillian August—the belle of gracious living—it came down to being practical (without giving up on the pretty). The furniture and textile designer had one month to furnish her newly purchased second home in North Carolina before family and business associates came knocking. The results are pretty, practical, and uniquely charming.
“Every house has a function, and that’s where I start,” says designer Lillian August. This house’s major role would be as a haven for Lillian and her guests to unwind after long days on their feet at the International Furniture Market held twice a year in the Greensboro-High Point area. With the spring market just weeks away, Lillian went into overdrive, filling the 1923 house with guest beds, comfy seating, and plenty of quiet spaces to enjoy Southern breezes.
One of Lillian’s first practical decorating decisions was to keep the existing wall coverings that adorned nearly every room. Even though she generally prefers a white backdrop, removing them would cost money and time. “The wall coverings are all hand-blocked English papers and are so nostalgic, as is the house,” Lillian explains. “It just made sense to work with what was there.”
To complement the traditional wall coverings and introduce a fresh, clean palette, Lillian brought in furniture with whitewashed and aged-looking finishes from her Antiquaire collection, which references archival Belgian and Swedish antiques.
Knowing that the North Carolina house would function as a family hub during furniture industry events, Lillian chose sink-in-soft chairs, sofas covered in simple white linens, and plenty of ottomans for propping up feet and extra seating. “It’s relaxed decorating—relaxed and romantic,” she says. “I like creating pretty and somewhat feminine atmospheres where people can sit back and enjoy themselves.”
Large sisal rugs define the main living areas and keep the mood warm and casual. “I wasn’t crazy about the color of the floors, but I didn’t want to refinish them,” says Lillian, tapping into her practical side. “The sisal rugs really ground the home in a new traditional point of view,” she adds. In the living room, an antique Oushak rug peppered with peachy-pink accents is casually angled over the sisal. “I like to throw a patterned rug over the sisal, like a scarf.”
Lillian furnished the space with a Swedish-inspired dining table and sideboard. The rustic tabletop and the sideboard’s hand-rubbed finish downplay formality. The room’s one dressy note is a crystal chandelier Lillian designed, with inspiration from a Russian antique.
The Aga cooker and beadboard walls give the kitchen a cozy feel. A console table Lillian designed serves as an island.
“I love opening all the doors and that wonderful sense of light and air flowing through the house,” says Lillian.
Sweet country details plus a cozy fireplace look as if they came right out of an English cottage, so Lillian accessorized with English china, potted herbs and topiaries, a framed botanical, and a petite English antique chair by the fireplace.
Graceful arched windows scallop across one wall of the breakfast room, offering views of the terrace and back gardens. An antique Oushak rug leads the way from the living room into the sunny dining spot.
Lillian screened the existing side porch and opens doors that connect it to the living room. “I suggest everyone find a way to have a porch. It really changes your lifestyle,” she says. Floral pillows and Lillian’s “Theodora” chair with a pink upholstered back contribute to the garden feel.
An urn-style lamp sits on Lillian’s “New Thora” bedside table. Glass candlesticks on the mantel were gifts from her son, John Weiss.