When Heather Chadduck Hillegas was invited to take part in Colonial Williamsburg’s “Designer in Residence” program—an initiative created several years ago wherein a house in the centuries-old town is re-envisioned by a top interior decorator—she jumped at the opportunity: Hillegas not only grew visiting the living history museum, but credits it as one of her greatest sources of inspiration. “It was a once-in-a-career homecoming,” she says.
Her assignment? Reviving the Nelson-Galt House. Built in 1695, the historic gem was once home to a signer of the Declaration of Independence and governor of Virginia and is believed to be the oldest residential dwelling in Colonial Williamsburg. Hillegas set to work imagining and planning her vision for the home, working with partners like Benjamin Moore and Schumacher (both of which have their own Colonial Williamsburg collections) and Paul Montgomery, who specializes in hand-painted mural wallcoverings.
While the Hillegas says there was “no need to reinvent the wheel” because of the classic color schemes and notable architectural details, the rules she was required to follow during the project were daunting, involving countless hours of research. The finished result, though, gave the Nelson-Galt House a new lease on life, with interiors that are tailored, clean, and livable while still maintaining an air of historical appropriateness. “It truly feels like my home,” Hillegas adds.