Interiors designed by Anne Dutcher are inviting residential spaces representing a thoughtful collaboration with clients.
Using her discerning eye for color, texture, and scale, Anne considers the personalities, family lives, and entertaining styles to achieve a graceful flow of spaces, whether they be new construction or renovations.
Anne has honed her sophisticated design sense for more than two decades with projects in Nantucket, Virginia, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, and Indiana. Anne’s work has been featured in Southern Home, Cape Cod & Islands Home, and The Scout Guide DC.
1. Your signature style has been described as warm, elegant with an understated luxury. How do you approach projects that create those qualities?
Client conversations and my first look at a home’s rooms and spaces gives me an understanding of key elements needed that will bring life and intimacy to a residence. It’s important that my clients love their spaces, and feel a sense of ownership with the design aesthetic.
By seeing how clients live, and understanding their likes, dislikes, and their lifestyle before any work commences, I get a sense of my client’s personality, passions, living habits, and sensibilities, and how I can deliver that warmth and elegance to their home. I find a thoughtful, well curated collection of books, antiques, interesting case pieces, richly textured fabrics, and unique accessories can always deliver an interesting, elegant, and well loved home.
2. What is your favorite stage of a project?
Of course, everyone loves the happy ending, when the client’s house looks simply smashing, and you and the client are all smiles, no matter what stressful events occurred along the way. But my favorite part of a project is when I feel that the client and I are finally on the same page, and we have a reasonably shared vision of where the project is going. At that point, it becomes exciting for everyone, and it’s the point when the client-decorator relationship becomes most productive. You understand what the client likes, and the limits of his or her tolerance for new or unconventional ideas. At the same time, the client has gained confidence that the designer is going to make the project something the client will be proud to live in, and show off to friends and neighbors.
3. What makes a good client?
Having a client with great taste and willingness to afford doing things right really helps, but it is usually up to the designer to make the client a good client. Many people just don’t understand what a designer does, how the design business works, or what value the designer brings. The client usually doesn’t focus on anything but how things will look in the end. It’s up to the designer to lead the client on that journey, establish a vision that both the designer and the client embrace, and build a relationship that works for both of them. And a good sense of humor is always appreciated! Nothing is perfect, and there will be bumps in the journey. A good client will understand these things and roll with them.
4. What is one of your favorite possessions in your own home and why?
Collections have always been a passion for me. Over the past five years, I’ve collected photos of weddings we have attended. The couples are family members, children of dear friends, and our son’s college friends. We are honored to attend these celebrations, and they’re also great fun. The photos are all in silver frames, engraved with the wedding date and occasionally the couple’s initials. This collection is particularly near and dear to my heart!
5. Many of your projects are wonderful historic properties. How do you ensure that the integrity of the structure is maintained, and sense of past is incorporated into your work?
Historic properties require close coordination between architecture and interior design. Historic preservation usually concentrates on preserving the appearance and the structural integrity of the house, while the interior design is often brought up to date with modern conveniences. I have been privileged to work on a project with a well-known and highly experienced architect who specializes in historic preservation and restorations. I learned a great deal about preservation from this experience, specifically that bringing an historic structure back to life is not just a remodeling job. It is a carefully planned venture that understands and respects the historic elements of a structure without masking them in modernity.
6. We love how you transformed a two-car garage into a party room. What were the challenges of this small-scale project?
This is a project that is near and dear to my heart. My son went to the University of Notre Dame, so I knew the themes and colors that would be essential for this pre-game football party room. The space was big enough, but it was a garage, and the garage door would be open during parties. Two of the biggest challenges were creating clever ways to conceal heating – it can be chilly in Indiana in the fall – and designing seating and serving spaces that could easily be moved aside so that the room could still be used as a garage.
I worked with a very skilled HVAC firm in South Bend that tied the forced air system in the house into vents hidden in crown molding and baseboard trim. Two gas-fired wall sconce torches provided some additional heat, but they were essentially design elements that flanked an iconic Notre Dame mural.
The room was designed to look like a locker room, so the light fixtures, cabinets, and islands are painted metal. The islands are on wheels, so they can be moved out of the way against the walls. A custom-made leather banquette folds up against the wall to clear space when the parties are over and the room returns to being a garage.
7. How do you decide on a color palette when designing a room or home?
I love color, and I’m not shy about applying it in my design work. Although I’m particularly fond of oranges and yellows, I encourage my clients to express their own preferences. I usually ask clients what colors they like, why they like those colors, and how those colors make them feel. Their responses help me shape a color palette that is pleasing to them, and that helps me construct a cohesive paint schedule. My rule of thumb for designing the “public spaces” in a home is to use only three colors that coordinate well together. To achieve variation and interest, I will dilute or intensify the selected colors.
8. What is one of your favorite projects and why?
A few years ago I had the great pleasure of working on the restoration of a late 1800’s Victorian home in the village of Sconset on Nantucket Island. The home, sited on a bluff overlooking the ocean, had some historical significance that my clients wanted to preserve. At the same time, they also wanted a livable vacation home for their young, modern family. They engaged architect John Milner, who has an extensive background in historic preservation. The renovation was conducted in stages over five years, with John overseeing the architectural details and preservation decisions. He and his team brought remarkable talent and skills to the project. While they were restoring the exterior to its original design, I set my focus on creating more modern-day interiors that complemented the home’s historical roots.
9. What do you think makes a Southern Style home?
A Southern style home has a huge wraparound veranda, a Gone with the Wind staircase, and… well, not really! I think of a Southern home as having a purposeful connection between the interior of the home and the outdoors. It is rooted in the design of those magnificent city and plantation homes in New Orleans, Charleston, and Savannah. The deep, sweeping porches are a wonderful place to be outdoors, yet under the shelter of its roof, you’re not completely exposed to the intense heat of the sun. The tall windows, sometimes reaching from floor to ceiling, bring in the light of the day, yet they can be opened to bring in the cool, scented air of a spring morning. I grew up in New England, where there are certainly grand houses, but they must be designed primarily as shelters from the long, cold winters. New England summers are glorious, but unlike houses in the South, houses in New England can welcome the outdoors for only so long.
10. How has your design aesthetic evolved over the years?
I’ve always had a passion for classic English style – beautiful antiques, richly textured fabrics, and eclectic collections of furnishings and accessories. While there are clients who still love that style, tastes have moved on from a formal look to more relaxed styles. Just as open floor plans have captured the imaginations of home renovators eager for space and light, I too have found my design style changing to bring that same sense of space and light into my clients’ homes. Mixing contemporary ideas with traditional pieces has become a more common design theme for my current projects.