9 Decorating Tips We’re Stealing from Celerie Kemble’s Redesign of Mayflower Inn

Marigold yellow walls? Yes, please.

April 29, 2021
When the beloved Mayflower Inn & Spa in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills wanted to freshen its look, interior designer maestra Celerie Kemble lavished it with her signature sunny-chic care. Her redesign evokes a stroll in a garden, albeit one filled with bold colors, richly patterned textiles and a slightly bohemian flair. Here are nine great ideas that are ripe for the picking.

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1. Add a Hint of Glint

Kemble used mirrors for their optical effects throughout the inn. Here, she overlaid lattice on mirrored panels to add a touch of sparkle and capped it all off with exuberant, larger-than-life papier-mâché flowers and bows from Casa Gusto.

2. More is More!

A mismatched collection of plates and bowls from France’s Alsace region found a new home in the Mayflower’s breakfast room. Kemble embraced their singularity, using different kinds of charming ribbon to hang each one.

3. Faux Flowers Offer Year-Round Joy

Artist Livia Cetti‘s one-of-a-kind paper floral creations flank a pair of 1960s abstract art pieces atop the mantel in the parlor. Kemble says Cetti’s work, which she calls “sturdy, sweet and unpretentious,” was the guiding light for her redesign of the inn.

4. Embrace Transparency

To hide unattractive overhead lighting in the inn’s restaurant, Kemble painted the ceiling a cerulean blue and then installed a dropped ceiling with a pierced quatrefoil design that showcases the color and lets in the light, but masks the fixtures.

5. Don't Forget the Fifth Wall

In a hallway, Kemble covered the ceiling in a striking wallpaper that recalls the marbled endpapers of vintage books. “Paint only has one note,” Kemble says. “Wallpaper has many. I think of it as the decorator’s greatest tool.”

6. Bold Colors Make For Cozy Spaces

Kemble saturated the inn’s parlor in a marigold lifted from the chairs’ ikat fabric and used the aubergine accents as inspiration for the room’s trim.

7. Cast a Soft Glow with Decorative Lampshades

“Fabric lampshades are beautiful finishing elements, and at night they instantly create a mood,” Kemble says. “Plus, they’re friendlier than white shades.” For more fabric lampshades, click here.

8. Abstract Patterns Hide Wear and Tear

The custom carpet is a stunner but was also “built to take abuse,” Kemble says—a practical reality of decorating for an inn. Its multicolor mix of teal, persimmon, ochre and grey-blue hides stains and brings the “floral-and-sky palette of the lobby down to earth.”

9. Consider Variations on a Theme

Kemble spent nearly two years collecting floral tinsel paintings— a reverse-glass painting technique especially popular in the 19th century. The works she gathered range from museum-quality pieces to ones by amateurs found on eBay. Kemble describes them as “silly and pretty and bright.”

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To learn more from Kemble about her redesign of Mayflower Inn & Spa, click here.

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Frederic magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Styled by Carolyn Englefield