Architecture & Design

A Portland Designer’s Living Room Will Make You Rethink an Overlooked Wall Color

Marianne Lesko had been trying to persuade clients to use the non-traditional shade for years.

living room with purple walls, emerald-green velvet sofa, and ceiling with elaborate white woodwork

From our Spring 2023 issue

Designer Marianne Lesko has a simple strategy for renovating historic homes: “Keep whatever is original, and if something has been added, I’m fine replacing it with something modern.” In the 1857 Portland home she and her husband, Bob Hubert, purchased in 2016, she painted the grand living room’s “muddy red” walls Farrow & Ball’s Brassica — a decidedly non-traditional shade she’d been trying to persuade clients to use for years. “It really pops the plaster moldings,” she says. An emerald-green velvet sofa — rich jewel tones hold their own with elaborate woodwork, Lesko says — replaced a low, later-addition shelving unit. For Hubert’s collection of 19th-century English and French novels, and to balance a pair of opposing floor-to-ceiling windows, Biddeford’s Gabriel Keith Sutton designed lofty bookcases with trim to match the original. A painting by Portland’s Rachel Gloria Adams that conjures the city’s Eastern Promenade and photographs of antique gowns by Jean-Philippe Pernot play up the Old World grandeur, while a brass chandelier centered on a gilt mirror mimics (and multiplies) the coffee-table’s shape. “A friend pointed that out,” Lesko says. “Sometimes I don’t even realize what I do, but, somehow, it works.”