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Rasheeda Gray Transforms Influencer Zakia Blain's Home With Color

Jan 15, 2024

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A cheerful designer gives a white-box new build a surge of life.

Pink, green, purple, blue: Pennsylvania designer Rasheeda Gray's new client, lifestyle influencer Zakia Blain, checked off a lot of favorite colors on their initial call. "It's like she was listing the entire rainbow," recalls the founder of Gray Space Interior Design. "I was thinking, Okay, but how do we find a way to translate that to something you can live with every day?"

Blain described the suburban Philadelphia new build, where she resides with her teenage daughter and their dog, Chance, as "a big white box." Gray was tasked with reimagining the living, dining, and kitchen spaces, as well as an entryway and powder room. To start, she went searching for a pattern that connected all those seemingly disparate favorite colors in order to unify the rooms.

She stopped when she saw a floral dining chair that Blain already owned: "I always look around for what can serve as inspiration," says Gray. "Sometimes it's a rug or an artwork. In this case, she already had these chairs. They were elegant, beautiful, and they became the starting point for the whole downstairs."

Gray had four of the six reupholstered in pink velvet and alternated them around a long dining table. Pulling from the original chair upholstery, she devised a scheme that's full of color and pattern but still feels cohesive—a must for the open-concept space. A leafy wallcovering stretches from the dining room into the connected kitchen, where blue is the star of the show on jewel-toned counter stools and a uniform tiled backsplash. (Her trick was matching the grout to the tile color so the pattern wasn't too prominent.)

In the living room, facing the kitchen, Gray continued this tonal thread with a custom fireplace surround and built-in IKEA cabinetry, which she had professionally painted in a dark blue tone that serves as a palate cleanser to the patterns throughout. Inside are board games the homeowner keeps for when her adult son comes over with his family.

Naturally, the designer set up plenty of vignettes for Instagram shoots. "Knowing who Zakia was, I wanted to create pops of the unexpected for moments on social media," Gray explains. The boldest of these is a colorful powder room, where a painting by Natalie Osborne and Milton & King wallpaper collide in a visual feast. "Each space has its own personality," says the designer, "yet they all work harmoniously together."

The media cabinets are IKEA units Gray had repainted and fitted with Rejuvenation hardware and quartz countertops. The matching grout creates a subtle tile pattern.

Tile: TileBar. Carpet: Jonathan Adler. Sofa: CB2. Armchairs and candlesticks: Uttermost. Coffee table: Arteriors. Side table: Sunpan. Curtains: Etsy. Pillows: Ardmore Design from Ngala Trading.

Gray used the client's existing dining chairs as a jumping-off point for the whole color palette.

"Zakia specified that she loves plants, but not real plants since they’re too much work," says Gray, who offered an alternative with a leafy Phillip Jeffries wallpaper. A credenza from CB2 recalls the dark flooring and grounds the space. Mirrors: Uttermost. Vase: West Elm. B oxes: Jonathan Adler.

Gray installed pulls by Top Knobs to upgrade the builder-installed cabinets and added a backsplash of Canvas tile set in matching grout for a statement wall. Stool: Rove Concepts. Planter: Houzz.

A Natalie Osborne painting atop Milton & King wallpaper with a door in Sherwin-Williams Naval embodies the homeowner's bold, joyous style. Mirror: Anthropologie. Faucet: Delta.

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"Each space has its own personality," says the designer, "yet they all work harmoniously together." media cabinets hardware Tile: Carpet: Sofa: Armchairs candlesticks: Coffee table: Side table: Curtains: Pillows: wallpaper. credenza Mirrors: Vase: B oxes: pulls tile Stool: Planter: painting wallpaper door Mirror: Faucet: Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.