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At Home with Interior Designer Traci Connell

The 2022 Best Designer's “neutrals and natural” abode expertly blends custom pieces with practical, ready-made items from big-box retailers like Crate & Barrel and Ikea.
By Sarah Bennett | |Photography by Elizabeth Lavin
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Traci Connell's Entry Way
Elizabeth Lavin

At Home with Interior Designer Traci Connell

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It’s no surprise that a string of architects lived in designer Traci Connell’s home before she and husband Michael McDonald took residence. From the C-shaped floorplan to the triangular windows and angled ceilings, interesting architectural details abound. Perhaps that’s one reason why she stuck with a “neutrals and natural” approach. “I feel like I’m surrounded by color every day at work, and the creative side of that can put you in overwhelm,” she explains. “[My home] breathes a sigh of relief. I have neutrals in my spaces–blacks, whites, creams, hints of greens, and camel.” 

Q&A with Traci Connell

What is your design philosophy when it comes to mixing high-dollar pieces with more accessible ones?

“We are very strategic when it comes to mixing high and low pieces. For example, if a piece from a big box design retailer is all over Instagram, that is the first thing we remove from our design presentation. Our clients come to us for custom design, therefore those swipe-and-buy decor items have to go. That being said, some staples and room filling items can be found at a great deal and no one would know it was from a catalog!”

But what really makes Connell’s home feel unique is the way she expertly blends custom pieces with the ready-made for a mixed aesthetic that’s not only visually appealing but practical and durable. More accessible items from Crate & Barrel, CB2, and even Ikea get a boost beside one-of-a-kind custom works and other high-end acquisitions. “It takes the stuffiness out and makes it real,” she says. “Everything is so curated.” 

She and Michael moved in four years ago, just before their wedding, and had just completed the first phase of a multiphase renovation when a housefire struck. “It was in pretty rough shape,” she says. With that tragedy came the chance to create anew. Connell kept the original brick floors, mixed custom pieces with ones that could ship quickly, and kept to her overall neutral palette, while opting for pops of color throughout—deep, rich tones of green or aubergine in unexpected places. “We wanted the interiors to be relatively quiet,” she says. “A lot of times when we entertain, people bring the color! What they’re wearing, their personalities—that was my driving direction.” 


Sarah Bennett

Sarah Bennett