When this Brookline Village client with three young children invited me to work on their gorgeous Victorian style home, I knew it was going to be a special project. In a stellar location and with custom quarter sawn oak cabinets decking the kitchen, the home was an absolute gem, albeit in serious need of a cohesive style. But beyond an upgraded look, this client was seeking greater functionality: their vibrant family of five imagined a home that could serve their many needs, including space for friends, family dinners, toy storage, and plenty of ageless whimsy.
My approach to this redesign centered around the kids - both inspiring the spirit of youth and creating avenues for organization and productivity. The home can form habits, and a home in which the kids learn that everything has its place is certainly a peaceful home.
Initially, the island was too small to comfortably fit all five family members and storage space was limited. A distinctive brick chimney with a wood stove ran through the center of the kitchen and adjacent living room, which limited the size of the island. Our solution was to create a custom storage toy cabinet to replace the wood stove, while increasing the island size.
The result was not only a bright, central dining space, featuring brilliant Ceasarstone countertops, but an organically disguised storage unit for the kids. Now, the custom cabinet is a natural extension of the island which wraps around the chimney (more details here). The new kitchen features more functional seating and counter space to replace the unused stove, as well as an organizational opportunity for the kids, which opens up into the adjacent living room.
The client wanted to retain the oak cabinets, both to save on the budget and to keep some of the original essence of the house. To add a bit of modern intrigue and flair, I was able to splurge on a stunning backsplash of handmade Kelly Wearstler tiles. This choice added to my goal of a sophisticated and elegant space with some room for whimsical details. Check out how unique and absolutely breathtaking these tiles are, and how they add and element of surprise to the kitchen.
I also added a new, spacious sink and modern faucet, along with a stunning LZF pendant handmade in Spain that is the new focal point of the kitchen.
We added details like these all over the three spaces - bathroom, kitchen, and living room. In the kitchen, the tiles tied together the old and the new elements, and in the bathroom next to the kitchen, I picked a dreamy nautical wallpaper. The bathroom underwent a complete transformation, from old-school to modern and filled with fantastical details - classic penny round tiles, a budget friendly vanity with plenty of storage for the family, an ornate mirror, Kate Spade Scones, a whimsical overhead light fixture, and this "Melville" style wallpaper with turtles riding whales taking central stage. These details not only mixed high and low priced items for a unique and elegant result, but they also give the space a kid and adult friendly sense of peace and joy.
The kids' imaginations were sparked by these adorable, joyful additions to the rooms, but I actually wanted to involve them directly. In the adjacent living room hangs a large painting which I specially commissioned the kids to create. Sentimental art means a living space that shares memories and invites new ones. Actually, the entire living room was imagined with the kids in mind. The turquoise sectional is performance fabric for the kids, and it gorgeously complements the newly painted walls and vintage Turkish rug.
And here is the before!
To give the room a little more space to breathe, I removed the TV and scones, allowing the windows to really shine. An Eames style rocker and leather ottoman add extra seating for hosting but are sturdy enough for some rough housing too. This living space can serve all the functions of this family - relaxing, hosting, and playing. And, when all of the excitement is over, the kids know to retain the peaceful cohesion of the home by putting their toys away in the new custom cabinet nearby.
This design transformation is a perfect example of how you can mix high and low items to your benefit, creating a space that is both elegant and personal. My philosophy of holistic design, in which design serves a greater purpose in the balance of a client's life, helped me create a space that really complemented this client's family and lifestyle. A kid-friendly place does not have to be at the sacrifice of elegance, and now, this home is a functional, beautiful space which teaches organization but also inspires creativity and imagination. It is a space that they have used for the everyday chaos and joys of family life, and now it can work for them, helping to inspire peace, order, and togetherness.