This 1939 Colonial Makeover Showcases Black Artists and Bold Design

Designer Angela Belt shares the renovating secrets of her first house, which showcases BIPOC artists and small businesses.

An appetite for bold patterns and quirky architecture had interior designer Angela Belt wanting more from her home than an apartment could provide. So when this 1939 Colonial in West Hartford, CT, went on the market, she scooped it up. "I could finally invest like I never had before," she says.

angela belt family portrait in living room
David A. Land

Light renovation and decorating room by room created comfortable, personal spaces that reflect her family and their creative backgrounds. (She isn't the only artist in the family; her husband, Leon, is an art director at ESPN.)

The result is a home that champions Angela's mission to elevate others. "Black people make up less than 5% of the interior designer demographic," she says. "In my work and home I want to make sure those people are seen."

cozy artistic living room with art decor
David A. Land

Textural, handcrafted pieces give built-ins an artist's touch. Angela shopped Reflektion Design for woven fans made by artisans in Ghana and Effortless Composition for the minimalist head sculpture. On the wall, Angela proudly displays the jumping broom from her wedding. An Anthropologie rug and throw pillows from Lulu and Georgia and Modish Decor Pillows add pattern to the living room.

"I was most excited about all the custom millwork we got to do," Angela says. Wanting a console that would hide the radiators and corral tech, Angela worked with her carpenter to design built-ins with movable interior shelves and holes for wires. The structure is radiator safe, with breathable caned doors.

"Adding this banquette, with its storage drawers and performance velvet, makes the space feel like a restaurant," Angela says. "It makes a typical meal feel special, but nothing is too precious." A tulip-base table gives everyone more legroom. Nubby throw pillows and a linen pendant from Room & Board soften the room even further. Desert color combos of pink, orange, rust, and navy—including new paint on the hutch—lend warmth.

Society6 features a vast selection of artwork by Black artists, like the framed piece from ThingDesign featured in the dining room. Assata plates and silverware from Kultured Kitchens dress the table; pillows from Leilon Home complete the banquette seating.

"When we first moved in, I had the urge to gut the kitchen area," Angela says. "But everyone who visited loved the kitchen, and I started to see the problem was in my head." The island already comfortably fit the whole family, and appliances had been updated by the previous owner. But details—hardware, recessed lighting, and a lack of window treatments—did need fixing.

She swapped can lights for matte gray Lumens pendants over the island, updated the back door with a coat of Meet Cute from Clare Paint, and brought in hits of color with Smeg countertop appliances. The pattern on the panel, designed by Sheila Bridges for The Shade Store, continues the soft tile color.

bedroom bedspread faux grass ceiling
David A. Land

The bedroom, bath, and office were perfectly functional, but blank gray walls and uninspiring decor were zapping more energy than they were giving. "I wanted each room to nurture the people spending time in them," Angela says. She set out to create "me spaces" that would creatively inspire Angela and Leon. "It's important to me to have space to decompress," she says.

Bold contrasting colors, personal collections, and smart storage blend in rooms that both soothe and energize. "I built the [bedroom] decor around this energetic Lulu and Georgia headboard," Angela says. Contrasting the coral with blue Orange Grove wallpaper from Anthropologie makes each color look more saturated. She added nubby texture with the same hues in bedding from Jungalow.

A big part of Angela's mission as a designer is to intentionally source pieces from underrepresented Black artists and makers. If there's an opportunity to use work by a person of color in her home, she says, she makes a point to do so.

The credenza, which has moved with Angela for more than 10 years, became an anchor point for a gallery of prints by Black artists (sold through Society6) and keepsakes, including a blue dish she found during her honeymoon in Paris.

She turned a petite window nook into a meditation area "to ground myself and clear my mind." A faux-grass ceiling and hanging plants bring natural elements into the meditation zone.

Angela used Deep Dive by Clare Paint to add color to the walls. "This deep teal continues the color from the bedroom wallpaper but in a simpler way. I wanted to make the room feel like a hotel suite, and the color glows bright in the daylight but calms at night."

small bathroom medicine cabinet
David A. Land

As the only working bath in the house, this space needed to be reconfigured with enough storage for the family of four. Angela replaced a flush-mount mirror and pedestal sink with a medicine cabinet mirror from the BHG Collection at Walmart and a vanity sink with drawers in the same footprint. A basket tucks underneath, and a shelf adds a towel bar and room for SampleHAUS bowls to hold cosmetics.

The walls are coated in a shade of green called OMGreen by Clare Paint. "This green is rich in color and doesn't make the little bath feel small. I originally picked a lighter shade that felt too kiddie for the space, but this shade is the perfect pick-me-up to energize me in the morning," says Angela.

living room open wall shelving
David A. Land

"I found this sofa from one of my favorite Black-owned businesses, called Albany Park," Angela says. "I loved the pattern and used it as a base to pull other colors out in the room." Dark walls make the decor—including a hip-hop heads framed print by graphic artist Dale Edwin Murray and a green retro side table—the focus. Wall shelves free up floor space and showcase Leon's work—as well as his Emmy award.

The office walls feature Soot 2129-20 by Benjamin Moore. "My husband wanted dark walls, like in an edit studio, that wouldn't distract while he's working on animation and video projects. Charcoal isn't as deep as black, so it allows light to reflect in the room," Angela says.

Angela's Favorite Decorating Sources

"Promoting Black artists and designers is top of mind for me," Angela says. "If there's an opportunity to use work by a person of color in my projects, I try to integrate it." Here are a few of her favorites.

Forbes + Masters Shop this design firm's wallpaper collection—including the Kazi in Peach paper in Angela's dining room—through Mitchell Black.

AphroChic Angela's sister, Jeanine Hays, created this shop with husband Bryan Mason. Browse pillows, wallpaper, fabric, and Juju hats that introduce bold color and global style.

Reflektion Design One of Angela's go-to sources for accessories, this brand works with artisans in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda to create one-of-a-kind items like baskets, fans, and pillow covers.

Modish Decor Pillows Find uniquely patterned pillows, like those on Angela's sofa.

Updated by
Raina Kattelson

Raina Kattelson is a prop, interior, and lifestyle stylist. In her spare time, she loves to collect cool things and create pottery for Otto Ceramics. Raina is the founder of Hudson Valley Image Makers. She studied fashion and display design at Parsons School of Design.

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