Name: Colin & Nicole and their 3 young children
Occupation: him: school administrator, her: artist
Location: Silver Spring, MD
Size: 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths
Lived in: 3.5 years
Nicole and Colin prove that furnishing a starter home out of family hand-me-downs and flea market finds doesn't mean resigning yourself to tattered brown recliners and yellowing venetian blinds. Taking advantage of DC's abundant estate sales and harmonizing a variety of recycled furniture with a few coats of paint, they've created the kind of cohesive, sophisticated space that you don't normally expect from a couple in their 20s.
Rather than costly renovations, Nicole and Colin's design success comes from knowing how to play up the good and soften the undesirable features of their 40s colonial (i.e.-bringing the dated mustard and onyx tiled bathroom up to speed with black accessories and a shower curtain that ties the tile in with their wall color of choice). They're also pros at giving passé pieces a good face-lift, like the brass chandelier that came to life with black spray paint and a Blue Willow inspired scene in white oil paint. Although there are relatively few pieces of Nicole's artwork in their home, her artistic influence is apparent everywhere — even in the playroom where she arranged her old painting palettes as wall decor and tacked picture mats on the walls for an easy rotating gallery for her sons' weekly masterpieces. Without being fussy, every furniture arrangement and art grouping has purposefulness and balance which enhance the harmony resonating throughout their delightful home. You can see more of Nicole's paintings on her website.
Style: Stream-lined salvage with a traditional bent
Inspiration: By room: Living room: nests and old-school libraries; Kitchen: 1950s pie counters; Dining room: Blue Willow dishes and heirloom silver, avocados, and raw linen; baby Georgia's room: March tea-party after a storm; our bedroom: the lovebirds resting on the cherry branch in the Asian painting above our bed
Favorite Element: Finding an affordable house close to the city is difficult for a young family. We are grateful for the quality construction and thoughtful maximizing of space that our small, standard-issue colonial offers. These houses (built as simple starter-homes in the 40s for soldiers returning from the war) may be small and a dime-a-dozen in design, but they are sturdy and humanly proportioned.
Biggest challenge:Having tastes that often exceed our budget, and working with the hideous bathroom tiles. Also, creating a space that's kid-friendly and beautiful
What friends say: Cozy and grown-up
Biggest embarrassment: The kitchen counters and floor, which we are still saving to replace with quality materials.
Proudest DIY: Ebonizing an inherited dining table and recovering the chairs with canvas painters' drop cloth, turning a fireplace mantel into a shelf in Georgia's room, and hanging an old glass pantry door above the stairs to visually open up the cramped space
Biggest Indulgence: Most of our furniture is from flea markets and estate sales, but we splurged on the Persian wool rug in our dining room and the mirror above our fireplace (from Random Harvest) which we eyed for over a year.
Best Advice: "Do not allow financial constraints to necessitate ugly living" & "Live only with what you find entirely beautiful or useful (and ideally both)."
Dream Source: Olde Good Things in Chelsea
Hardware: Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, antique shops
Furniture: Georgetown flea market (and others), local estate sales, junk shops, family
Lighting: Pottery Barn, IKEA, Target, eBay, Land of Nod, flea markets (nice lighting=good atmosphere)
Rugs and Carpets: Carpet Palace in Bethesda
Window Treatments: West Elm, IKEA
Beds: beds were past down from family, linens are from the Pottery Barn Outlet, Georgia's were made by our friend, Celina, using Warmbiscuit.com fabric
Artwork: of few of my (Nicole's) paintings and sketches mixed in with junk shop and yard sale finds
Paint: Benjamin Moore and Restoration Hardware
Thanks Nicole and Colin!
(Images: Leah Moss)
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