An Ode to Bold in Linherr Hollingsworth's Darien Home
Linherr Hollingsworth follows patterns. She does so not just in how she runs her Norwalk–based interior design business, but also in actual patterns she finds in the world and adopts for her work and furnishings. Upon entering her Fairfield County home, for instance, a visitor is immediately presented with a Greek key–patterned wallcovering motif so vibrant and expansive it seems scaled up by an electron microscope.
“The entry foyer to your home is exactly where you should make a bold statement,” Hollingsworth insists. “I love big-scale patterns. It’s one of my signatures, and I use my own home as the canvas to see what works. I love Greek keys, but do we really need another Greek key,” the designer asks rhetorically. “I’m a lover of classic patterns, but I like to re-create them in new, fresh ways.”
Although Hollingsworth, her husband and three children have lived in the house for more than 25 years, it’s only recently that she has begun to alter the palette. “Now that the children have grown and moved on, I’ve been creating more artworks of my own, more patterns, and I’ve wanted an even more neutral background to showcase everything,” she explains. “But the most important dynamic over all the years has remained making everyone comfortable in this house.”
She has continued to add to her carefully curated collection of abstract art, with notable examples, in particular, by Jean-Marc Louis, the French–Belgian painter, with whom Hollingsworth admits to sharing similar sensibilities. She first encountered his works in Paris, and then came upon a large group of canvases at the antiques center in Stamford that she quickly purchased. “He likes to mix styles, and I like to mix styles,” notes the designer. “He also loves browns and ochres, and I’m a huge fan of burnished metals with their warm burnt umbers. He’s also unpretentious, very human.”
Throughout the four-bedroom home, which began as a simple Sears & Roebuck catalogue-ordered, four-square farmhouse more than 100 years ago, Hollingsworth’s penchant for pattern and motifs decidedly of the now is evident. Her own designs can be found conspicuously in a powder room and in her dressing room. The walls of the diminutive downstairs powder room feature an abstract pattern in a custom finish with each element seemingly as big as the sink itself.
“Powder rooms are the perfect place in the home to indulge with pattern,” she says. “I think of them as little gem boxes. Once you put in the sink and toilet, you’ve done what you’ve had to do. It’s time then to experiment with patterns.” As for her capacious dressing room, she chose her own pattern called La Pointe. “I have a love for oxidized metals, and the colors of that wallcovering reflect that,” she notes. “Also, because I like to make a strong point in every room, the pattern’s name reflects who I am as a designer.”
Not only has Hollingsworth fully accommodated the needs of her children and husband over the years, she has also referenced earlier generations of her family. Of a framed Asian tapestry that hangs above a sectional in the family room, she remarks, “That came from my grandmother, who always said to my mother that it’s important to have one Asian piece in every room of a home to create serenity. I’ve carried that idea with me.”
Lacquered neutral surfaces—walls, floors and ceilings—allow the designer to make strong statements in every room. Decorative, exuberantly sculpted corbels, made of distressed wood, anchor the family room fireplace. A round dining table designed by architect Kenneth Hobgood is as much an eating surface as it is a work of contemporary sculpture, with its “legs” of custom tires mounted on gleaming spokes and armatures. Gio Ponti living room chairs and others are upholstered in fabrics whose patterns replicate abstract artworks Hollingsworth has commissioned from artists or that figure on her own painted canvases.
“As a designer, I take my work very seriously,” she emphasizes, “but I don’t take myself seriously, which means that when you are in the service of others, making their homes, you have to take that role seriously. In my own home, I’m allowed to have more fun.”
A version of this article appeared in the October 2018 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: On a Grand Scale.