How to Personalize Your Space With Pattern and Color

With a few key investment pieces, punchy prints, and personal touches, designer Angela Belt turned her rental home into a hub for family fun.
By Danielle Blundell ,

Angela and her daughter, Brooklyn, goof around in their living room in West Hartford, Connecticut. “Darker grays are a good choice for sofas and chairs because they’re kid- and stain-proof,” says Angela.

Photography by David A. Land/Otto

Angela Belt makes design decisions fast. It’s an occupational hazard when you’re a pro decorator working with tight client deadlines. So right after signing the lease on a 1940s row house in West Hartford, Connecticut, she already had paint colors picked out and a furniture layout in mind.

Her plan? Highlight the old house’s charm—original wood floors and crown moldings—with a quiet blue-gray palette and neutral furniture, much of which Angela and her husband, Leon, already owned. A charcoal Room & Board sectional, purchased at a discount during Angela’s stint as a stylist for the company, anchors the main living area, while a prized Paul McCobb desk bought on eBay turns a corner of the dining room into a makeshift home office. Just a few feet away, a farmhouse table, snagged secondhand for only $300, is a hub for homework and family dinners.

Angela retrofit an old ikat rug to the new space by layering it over a larger nubby style. Printed pillows riff off the colors underfoot.

Photography by David A. Land/Otto

But the real magic lies in Angela’s mash-up of styles, textures, and patterns. Although she gravitates toward a tranquil base, she adds a riot of color with throw pillows, linens, rugs, and artwork, which can be changed easily. “Decorating is a balancing act,” says Angela. “Our home is part mid-century modern with a pinch of industrial chic and African infusion. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Photography by David A. Land/Otto

"This place reflects all of us,” says Angela. “Brooklyn picked out photos for framing. and Leon helped with DIY projects. that Chewbacca head on our desk is all him.”

Photography by David A. Land/Otto

Dance parties start at this gold bar cart–turned–music station. A custom pennant sports the family motto, The Belt Way, which means “getting things done while keeping it classy,” says Angela.

Photography by David A. Land/Otto

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