Charmaine & Mark’s Lovely, Lively Family Home

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Mark, Charmaine, Alexandra (8), Mateo (5) and Sabrina (19 months)
Location: New Berlin, Wisconsin
Size: 2,600 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; owned

Three years ago, Charmaine and Mark wrote Apartment Therapy to ask readers’ advice about painting the oak trim in their recently purchased home.The home had beautiful bones, but with all that wood, it was looking a bit too dated for their tastes. With their confidence boosted by the responses, Charmaine and Mark painted… and painted… and painted, turning it into the fresh, bright, and modern home that it is today.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

If you were to just look at photos of Mark and Charmaine’s space, you would probably use descriptors like glamorous, sophisticated, and stylish, thanks to the glittering chandeliers, luxurious tufted furniture, and lucite and brass accents scattered throughout the home. White, lilac, turquoise, and pale pink hues give the home an airy, peaceful feeling, and Charmaine has a fantastic eye for classic pieces that she puts together in bold yet tasteful combinations. Every inch of the house feels well-considered and thoughtfully composed.

But to leave the assessment there would not begin to do the space justice. While stylish and refined, this family home is also very clearly lived in and loved. Charmaine and Mark have three sweet, precocious children, and the weekend that I visited, they were also hosting several visiting family members. The house was lively, bustling, and filled with glee, and as I moved from room to room, it became clear to me that Charmaine has decorated with utility first and foremost in her mind. The family loves to entertain, and the house is perfectly engineered to provide ample seating for visitors and numerous spaces where the kids can play. Pops of bright color, the use of durable materials, and plenty of storage solutions keep the space kid-friendly, while a variety of soft colors and lighting options make it a space suitable for a bit of relaxation once the kids have gone to bed.

What’s more, they have created this thoughtful and stylish home frugally. Charmaine’s blog My Best Friend Craig chronicles her budget-friendly home projects and affordable finds, and as you’ll see in the source list below, most of the home’s furnishings have been patiently and skillfully collected from thrift stores, consignment shops, and Craigslist. With a keen eye, some elbow grease, and some serious search string talent, Charmaine has managed to fill the house with charming, unique items that truly showcase the art of resourceful living.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We like vintage mixed with new, traditional mixed with mid-century modern, and some Asian touches as well.

Inspiration: Design blogs, books, magazines and our travels. I am also inspired by Jonathan Adler, Tamara Kaye-Honey and Jamie Meares.

Favorite Element: Charmaine’s favorite are the bathrooms (the kids’ bath and the master bath were recently remodeled). Since we entertain a lot, Mark’s favorite is the backyard. We have a decent size deck, a play set area for the kids, and a basketball court that he converts to an ice rink in the winter.

Biggest Challenge: Painting the 80s oak trim and kitchen cabinets white.

What Friends Say: “Your house is so comfortable; I feel right at home,” and “I love what you did with your house. When can you help me with mine?”

Biggest Embarrassment: The upstairs hallway carpet needs to be replaced, and the hardwood floors need to be refinished.

Proudest DIY: The upholstered headboard in the master bedroom.

Biggest Indulgence: Remodeling our bathrooms.

Best Advice: Good design doesn’t always equal expensive. It’s all about balance. Try to mix high and low, new and old — although I prefer vintage over new. It adds instant character and it’s usually inexpensive, making it more kid-friendly. I’ve found so many great deals on Craigslist!

Dream Sources: eBay, Flea Markets, Antique stores, Craigslist, ABC Home, Jonathan Adler, and Furbish

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


    • Living room and dining Room: Iced Cube Silver by Benjamin Moore
    • Kitchen: Half Moon Crest by Benjamin Moore
    • Family room, office, and all white paint (including trim and cabinets): Atrium White by Benjamin Moore
    • Alexandra’s room: Tidewater by Sherwin Williams
    • Mateo’s room: Van Deusen Blue by Benjamin Moore
    • Master bedroom and bath: Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore


    • Gray tufted sofas: Southern Furniture through a local shop
    • Marble coffee table: Craigslist
    • Gold Shelving: Craigslist
    • X benches: Home Goods
    • Cowhide rug: The Cowhide Store
    • Floor lamps: IKEA


    • Panton chairs: Design Public
    • Dining Table: thrift store
    • Lucite and chrome chairs: Craigslist
    • Crystal chandelier: Craigslist
    • Curtains: IKEA
    • Beveled mirrors: Lowe’s


    • Vintage tulip table: Craigslist
    • Chairs and settee: Craigslist
    • Chandelier: eBay
    • Chinese credenza: eBay
    • Barstools: Overstock
    • Turquoise knobs: Anthropologie
    • Cup pulls:


    • Tufted sofa: Crate and Barrel
    • Sofa: JC Penney with custom white slipcover
    • Coffee table: Craigslist
    • Dresser: Craigslist
    • Club chairs: Safavieh via Gilt
    • Lucite floor lamp: Craigslist
    • Jute rug: Natural Area Rug
    • Lucite nesting tables:
    • Tulip side table: Antiques on Second
    • Brass sofa table: Craigslist
    • Green mirror: Craigslist
    • Abstract art above fireplace: local Milwaukee artist, Gary John Gresl


    • Sink and lighting: Home Goods
    • Mirror: Craigslist
    • Stencil: Zamira Allover Stencil from Cutting Edge


    • Lounge chair: Craigslist
    • Daybed:
    • Wallpaper: DIY using contact paper and Sharpie pen


    • Floor tiles: Tile Shop
    • Stools: Home Goods, spraypainted in green
    • Medicine cabinets: Restoration Hardware outlet
    • Roller shade: DIY using “Swaying Palms” fabric
    • Shower curtain: Home Goods
    • Giraffe Hooks: World Market


    • Upholstered headboard: DIY
    • Settee: Craigslist
    • Chandelier: Antiques on Second
    • Nightstands: Consignment store
    • Table lamps: Thomas O’Brien for Target
    • Tripod lamp: Craigslist


    • Medicine cabinet, lighting, and towel rack: Restoration Hardware outlet
    • Floor tiles:
    • Shower screen: Ark Showers
    • Lucite tray: Antiques on Second

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Charmaine and Mark!

(Images: Carolyn Purnell)

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