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Colorful Christmas



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STORY BY GAY LYONS | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BEN FINCH

Todd Richesin and Bobby Brown’s approach to decorating for the holidays exemplifies the same principles they apply when decorating their home and those of clients: layering, texturing and collecting meaningful objects over time.

“If you look at my work, I don’t think it looks the same,” said Richesin. “Design should be about the person who lives there.”

Their west Knoxville home has been transformed since they purchased it in 2004 from the original owners, who built it in 1969.

“We’ve changed everything,” said Brown. “It’s still French Norman, and the floor plan worked, but we’ve improved on all the finishes.”

The couple, who have been together 22 years, moved to the home from a 1600 square foot condo downtown. With the addition of the sunroom last year, the home has 5500 square feet and is perfect for entertaining.

“We lived downtown for seven years and started both of our businesses [Todd Richesin Interiors and Bobby Todd Antiques] from there,” said Richesin. “We used to have a really big Christmas party with over 100 people in our loft. The house gave us a lot more room to entertain.”

“We’ve approached it like we approach jobs for clients,” said Richesin. “We’ve done a little bit at a time as we could afford it. It’s become something on its own that neither of us expected it to be. It’s far beyond what we envisioned originally.”

“Last year was our biggest project ever,” said Brown. “We added the sunroom. It gave us a better flow for parties.”

“When we started this room, I knew it was going to be green,” Brown continued. “I love green. The floor is wood with a faux marble finish. We were going to do a glass ceiling, but we kept seeing pictures of a tented ceiling. The leopard draperies were Todd’s idea.”

“The leopard tames it down,” said Richesin. “It’s counter-intuitive, but more pattern actually dialed it back.”

Richesin and Brown don’t always use rooms for their intended purposes.

The dining room is an extension of the foyer.

“We typically use it as more of an entry,” said Brown. “When we have parties, it’s the buffet table.”

“It’s not a huge dining room,” said Richesin. “We don’t entertain that way. When we have seated parties, we have tables for eight throughout the house.”

We wanted a carpet in here that was more playful,” he continued. “The antelope pattern added an energy to that room. Having light at both ends of the house--the living room and the sunroom--keeps the light moving. I like spaces where you move through the light. The dining room in the middle is cozy.”

The foyer was a big project.

“The foyer walls were 4 x 8 sheets of painted plywood,” said Richesin. “I drew the paneling around the seams in the plywood. It’s the interior architecture the house needed.”

In the master bedroom, Richesin and Brown turned a problem into a solution.

“We realized the room didn’t have great light,” said Richesin, “and it was never going to have great light. The dark color--navy blue instead of the original khaki--made it cozy. We turned the flaw into an advantage.”

Richesin and Brown like color.

“We’ve watched neutral trends come and go,” said Richesin. “Color never grows old. I feel like the things we did when we moved in here still seem current. The color, the pattern, the texture make a house feel friendly.”

“You need physical comfort and the feeling of comfort,” he continued. “We wanted it to be like anyone could sit down on anything.”

Holiday decorations are a work in progress--like everything else.

“A lot of the ornaments are things we’ve sold in the store over the years,” Brown said. “And we’ve collected ornaments over the years as we travel. The grooms on the tree are from our wedding.”

The result is personal, unique and fluid, something both Richesin and Brown think is important.

“When we did the sunroom addition, it gave us a chance to move things around,” said Brown. “When you move things, you see them differently.”

“After the Christmas decorations come down, we look at everything,” said Richesin.

“Sometimes it doesn’t make the cut, and we sell it. We have people tell us, ‘Whenever you bring something [to the shop] from your house, let us know.’”

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