Forest Park Gem

Designer Mark Kennamer concocts the perfect cocktail of antiques, little luxuries, and soft hues in his classic 1920s Colonial home in Forest Park.

Living room
The living room exudes stylish comfort and warmth. A sofa from MCJ Company upholstered in performance velvet makes for easy cleanup of spills and protects against the antics of the couple’s three cats. Drapery is Schumacher. A reproduction Oushak from 18th Street Orientals keeps things cozy underfoot. Photography by Jean Allsopp

After 12 years in a condo in Highland Park, interior designer Mark Kennamer was more than ready for a grownup house, and he knew exactly where he wanted it to be. “I have always loved this particular street in Forest Park and had actually looked at another house here before I bought my condo, but it would have been a huge project,” says Mark. “However, this house checked all the boxes. I love colonial architecture, and I’m a huge fan of symmetry.” 

Exterior of house
The home’s compelling symmetry includes a charming eyelash dormer and welcoming portico. The front door is painted a historic shade of blue (Fine Paints of Europe #GC656).
Original architectural features include a pair of alcoves where Mark placed Swedish demilune tables and an early 19th-century English armchair covered in a Scalamandré tiger print.

As expected in a home almost 100 years old, the inside had been tinkered with over the years and needed some attention to live and look like the designer desired. Blessed with compelling architectural details such as arches, niches, and high ceilings, the interiors were primed for Mark’s design prowess. His first decision was to paint everything Natural Cream by Benjamin Moore throughout, then fill it with his mix of collections and antiques. “While the home is formal in some spaces, it really presents a welcoming ‘come on in’ feeling,” says the designer.

Dining room
The British-influenced dining room features a custom table created by Ed Greer of The Nest. With the addition of leaves, the table can seat up to 14 guests. The silk grass cloth wallcovering from Thibaut has a shimmery finish that glows by candlelight.

In the dining room, Mark set a scene for entertaining with a custom round table and curved antique demilune sideboard. “I like a fancy dining room. It’s the perfect space to go big!” he says. A luxurious Holly Hunt silk fabric covers the window panels. With the basics in place, the layering commenced. The walls shimmer with silk grass cloth wallpaper, while antiques fill the room imparting a British allure. An antique china cabinet from Scott Antiques Market, filled with antique blue-and-white china, was purchased primarily for scale and storage. A reproduction chandelier with crystal facets feels right at home. Ceramic lamps, a custom shell-encrusted mirror, and a settee topped with Fortuny pillows add glamorous notes. 

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The living room opposite the foyer sings with more layered prettiness in blues, greens, and neutrals. Mark confesses to a love of many styles, so this space is rife with studied pairings, including antique Swedish demilune tables, a contemporary iron-based coffee table with white cowhide top from Circa Interiors & Antiques, and a vintage landscape oil painting from Henhouse Antiques. “I can never commit to a certain look; I am an equal opportunity designer,” laughs Mark.

Powder room
In the powder room, a Zoffany fern wallcovering extends to the ceiling, while a brass-legged marble vanity (Triton Stone Group) is outfitted with brass fixtures (Fixtures & Finishes). Mark relocated the original dining room chandelier to this space. “It’s the perfect scale for this room,” he says.

When it comes to holiday decorating, Mark and husband John Paul lean traditional. “We love magnolia garlands and swags, red velvet ribbons, and boxwood wreaths,” says Mark. And the finishing touch is their tree—an amalgamation of ornaments and decorative accents that reflect the compelling mélange exhibited in every inch of the house.

Mark Kennamer and husband John Paul Bruno

Holiday Traditions

Mark Kennamer and husband John Paul Bruno enjoy all the traditional trappings of Christmas by blending high style and pop culture fun. Here, Mark shares a few of the fun ways they celebrate.

Sentiments: We like to include pieces from our families. The gold reindeer in the living room were on my great aunt’s mantel. The “flocked forever” Frazer fir tree from Balsam Hill includes a melding of collections. We recently added spun-glass globes for a unifying look. And we are not fans of orchestrated Christmas trees. We like to pile on everything we love.

For the Furballs: All of our pets have their own monogrammed stockings. We give them their holiday treats on Christmas Eve.

Treats: We like all the “bad” stuff—especially the sweets. My mother still makes the classic Chex mix from my childhood. John Paul goes to his mother’s house and helps her make Italian Christmas cookies. We also like to drink Barber’s eggnog from the Piggly Wiggly. We keep it real.

Easy Listening: One of John Paul’s favorites is “Carol of the Bells”, and I love Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

Movie Night: We like the same movies as most of the country! Home Alone and Christmas Vacation are our two favorites.

Hearth and Home: We love a roaring fire during the season, and so do our three cats who relax in front of the flames every time it’s lit.

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