Name: Jen & Rob French, Hank & Dexter French (twin 2-year-old boys)
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Size: 2,200 square feet | 3 bedrooms
Years lived in: 1½
They may have dark-colored walls and a few dead things displayed here and there, but Jen & Rob French’s 1920s bungalow is still bright and full of life — thanks to a carefully curated art collection, a whimsical sense of humor, and the happy squeals of their twin two-year-old boys, Hank and Dexter, echoing through the house.
The couple finds inspiration in seemingly incongruous places — from Victorian Gothic interiors to Jen’s family ranch in Montana — while creating a cohesive and livable space where every room is filled with thoughtful personal details. Rob’s guitars are artfully displayed on a wall in the living room and a collection of antique and contemporary blue plates looks absolutely amazing mounted on the gray kitchen wall.
Jen, an artist, originally came to Providence to study at RISD, then left for Boston once she had finished school, and later moved back to settle down with her family a few years ago. Her gorgeous wall paintings, created freehand and with custom designed stencils, are one of the most impressive elements in their home. Jen works on her wonderfully rich, fairy tale-like artwork in a small studio at the back of the house (check out her Etsy shop and website).
Some parts of the house may be dark, but they are balanced by the playful details that make the space a toddler heaven: a secret hideout and mini-kitchen in the kitchen (which is surely invaluable for keeping a couple of two-year-olds busy while dinner is being prepared), a cowboy-themed reading room, a nautical bathroom, and a fort built of tree branches in the backyard — not to mention the alphabet menagerie mural in the twins’ bedroom.
They've created a fantastical and utterly unique grown-up and kid-friendly home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our style: We try to respect the age and character of our 1928 bungalow while making a creative & memorable home where our boys will grow up.
Inspiration: Gothic, 70's Mediterranean, Victorian, and vintage western
Favorite Element: The working fireplace and the outdoor space — two things we never had as condo dwellers
Biggest Challenge: Because of the wide doorway, fireplace, and piano, there is no logical layout for the living room. We have tried many configurations but it still seems a little awkward.
What Friends Say: People are always surprised at how big the house feels on the inside compared to how it looks from the outside.
Biggest Embarrassment: The dingy aluminum siding outside the house. Our goal is to replace it with cedar shingles someday and in the meantime Jen is trying to encourage ivy to grow and cover it.
Proudest DIY: The mural in the boys' room. Jen continued it all the way to the floor so that when they convert to toddler beds in the near future, she won't have to add to it. We also love the secret cubbyhole in the kitchen that we painted with chalkboard paint. Jen found the Twister rug at Building 19 and attached it to the floor.
Biggest Indulgence: The soapstone counters in the kitchen.
Best advice: Follow your instincts. Collect things you love whether or not you have a place or a use for them right away.
Dream source: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Furniture: eBay, thrift & antique stores, yard sales, our families, Overstock, Jordan's, traded or bought from friends. The dining room table is a custom laminate counter top that we ordered from Home Depot and attached to antique claw foot legs.
Accessories: thrift & antique stores, eBay, from travels & childhood
Rugs: Building 19, West Elm, Home Decorator's Collection
Lighting: hallway sconce, dining room chandelier, amber hallway pendant, studio, mudroom, and entryway fixtures: all from eBay; hitchen: Fado pendant from IKEA; everything else: antiques stores, Target, or Home Depot
Tiles and Stone: kitchen back splash tiles: Home Depot, soapstone counter tops from a local supplier
Window Treatments: West Elm, Target, IKEA, Penney's, and handmade
Artwork: paintings in dining room, cutout in living room and collage in master bedroom: Mara O'Day; porcelain tiles, plate and votives in the dining room: Asya Palatova; Sewn translucent pieces in the dining room: Marissa Nadler; Mask in hallway: Geralyn Giarmo; Medieval Icon and collage in living room: Jennifer French
Thanks, Jen & Rob!
(Images: Sarah Rainwater)