HOUSE TOUR: Portraits and Plaids

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For interior designer Kevin Billings, plaid isn’t just a trend, it’s a way of life.




“It’s a shoebox,” laughs Kevin Billings, founder of Dexter and Plaid Interior Design Co.

His 1,000-square-foot home may be small, but it packs a mighty dose of design. The home might best be considered transitional—a mix of modern and traditional—with a healthy dose of vintage mixed in. The rich color palette and warm textures evoke a cabin-like feel, drenched in character.

For Billings, in his home and in clients’ homes, it is imperative that each room he designs feels cohesive with the rest of the house. By establishing an overall mood, perspective, and color palette, the pieces fall into place.

Art is paramount, and he unabashedly adds pieces to each and every open wall space. Oil portraits are a signature element in his own home, each with a cheeky name and backstory that he’s devised.

Portraits from the mid-1900s welcome you as you enter the main floor, which includes the living room, dining area, and kitchen. Billings focused on designing these rooms first, as they are the spaces he spends the most time and where his guests gather. The color scheme leans heavily into greens, beige, and black. The textures are comprised of natural, well-worn materials like leather, linen, and warm woods. Pattern play in plaid brings a cabin-like feel to the rooms.

To delineate the adjoining spaces, an oversized, aged brass pendant is hung low above the dining table, and the sofa is positioned to create an intimate seating area in the living room zone. The space lacked architectural interest, so Billings built the brick fireplace himself, complete with a gas insert for cozy winter nights.

In the powder room, Wild Truffle by Behr dances on the walls. The effect is a jewel box of a room, an unexpected surprise. “By placing the art in a somewhat random spot, it feels elevated and different. It brings dignity to the room,” shares Billings.

Upstairs in the primary bedroom, Billings wanted to create a restful cave-like space. The walls are coated in a deep green, Night Safari by Valspar, which is his chosen focal point in the room. “If you have a space that’s already dark, embrace it. Go all out with dark, moody colors,” he says. In the adjacent guest room, art once again commands attention, with prints in varying sizes playfully wrapping around the walls.

The home feels unique, curated, and collected. “Everything is personal and tells my story,” Billings says. When it comes to design rules, Billings rejects the notion: “There are no rules! Go for the pieces that speak to you, not what’s being told to you. Forget Instagram!”

While it’s nice to look at trends for inspiration, there’s so much to wade through that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Billings advises that you stay true to your own preferences. “Your home and the pieces in it are something that you’ll see every day,” he explains, “so be sure that you are going to love them forever, or at least for years to come.”

–We shared this article with you in the Winter 2022 issue of NEST Magazine. Photography courtesy of Angela Newton Roy. To subscribe to Nest magazine, click here  — and be sure to follow us on Instagram @NestRealty.

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Posted in Asheville, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana, Greensboro, Greenville, Jackson, Lake Norman, Morganton, NEST Magazine, New River Valley, News, Overall Nest News, Raleigh-Durham, Richmond, Roanoke, Shenandoah Valley, Wilmington, Winter 2022
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