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Kristin says she was wary of a jarring makeover, since she'd seen "all those crazy shows where people do over a room and it's so out of touch with the character of the person who lives there." But after Tippin, a master of subtle upgrades with serious impact, made just two opening moves—hanging linen shades and swapping oriental rugs for space-anchoring sisals that "give the rooms a sexy, relaxed feeling"—the click between client and designer was palpable. "The gates opened and Kristin trusted me," Tippin says.

Along with the Smith+Noble window shades and New York Carpet sisal rug, Tippin added an assortment of accessories—including a linen table runner from Pottery Barn, a resin clamshell from Oly and cast-iron urns from Lillian August to bring the room to life.

"It was a breath of fresh of air," Kristin says. She admits that, on her own, she would have chosen heavy silk drapes that would have looked more conventional than the window shades Tippin selected but wouldn't have added as much life to the room.

The fun of playing with dimension—for instance, topping their intimidatingly long dining table with an oversize centerpiece that makes the room feel intimate, "less like a banquet hall," Brad says—is just one of many lessons Tippin taught them.


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