After working for several designers, Helen Bergin decided it was time to strike out on her own, in pursuit of her idea of “New England Eclectic” style. She used her own cottage and studio as the prototype, saying “We wanted to have fun with the space and play into the bones of the architecture.” The mid-century home, built in 1949, was turned up just a notch with sharp lines and saturated colors. We spoke with Helen to learn more.
How did you first become interested in interior design?
My mother used to have me cut out images from Architectural Digest and reconfigure them as new settings to fill my idle time when I was a little girl. I pretty much had the bug after that. When I started considering that I could actually do this as a career, my first step was getting an apprenticeship with the great Robert Passal in NYC. From there I worked for a few different acclaimed designers before going off on my own.
What is “New England Eclectic?”
New England design tends to have a lot of colonial influences and a very collected look. I love to use antiques with a classical silhouette and pair them with unexpected shapes, forms and hues. The word eclectic by nature means to derive ideas from a diverse range of sources. I do a lot of my sourcing at estate sales and antique shops in the local area but I also love quirky finds from eBay, Etsy, and 1stDibs (when the budget allows). Much of the time, people bucket themselves into one aesthetic category. I love traditional influences but I’m also not afraid to meld modern influences from any era.
Were there any particular challenges for this project?
Lots. The first being that everything had to be temporary. The woman who owns the house resides there in the summer, I’m not sure that the decor had been changed since being built in 1949. It almost looked like a time capsule and had to be put back that way. Paint is generally a great short term fix but we were not allowed to do that so I took to temporary wallpaper and lots of art and then layered all of the furniture, area rugs, and lighting.
We were working with a white color palette on the walls and wooden beams on the ceilings. It was a blank canvas when we walked in so adding color was our first step. New England winters can be gray and we wanted this to be a happy and colorful home. The hues, for the most part, are saturated. This helps bring in the energy we were looking for. Each space has it’s own dose of bold outrageousness thanks to the combination of colors.
See more in the slideshow!