Chris & Julie's Sunny Dixie Abode

Chris & Julie's Sunny Dixie Abode

Natalie Grasso
Jun 14, 2013

Name: Julie and Chris Peel, and Elliott, 20 months
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Size: 1,640 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; owned

A morning rainstorm has given way to a warm and sunny afternoon in Richmond, and dappled sunlight shines through each one of Chris and Julie Peel's windows. Julie leads me on a quiet tour of their home while their 20-month-old son, Elliott, finishes his nap. 

Their mild-mannered B (a 12-year-old Shar Pei/pit bull mix, named for Julie's native Baltimore) keeps watch in the backyard. The place brims with domestic serenity: nothing seems forced or too perfect, everything feels real and right.

Chris and Julie met and were married in southern California, and their new home in Richmond is infused with an easy sense of Californiacool. Chris, a British graphic designer and associate creative director at The Martin Agency, has run point on artwork in the house (much of it his own), and his spare, minimalist aesthetic makes a perfect canvas for Julie, who favors a more collected look, combining found furniture and DIY pieces to make the place feel like home. The showstopping painting on the dining room wall was a team effort — Chris found the old billboard in an alley in California, and together they sketched and painted the portrait of B.

Rounding it all out are the things 20-month-old dreams are made of: a circus tent, a big backyard, and lots of Brio. The letters on Elliott's nursery wall were shower gifts to Julie: each guest decorated a different letter so that he might have the entire alphabet above his crib. Julie's proudest DIY is the reading nook at the top of the steps, which doubles as extra storage space for toys. The nook is an example of the smart balance the Peels have managed to maintain throughout the house: kid-friendly, without compromising style.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic/Mid-Century modern. 

Inspiration: Most of our inspiration comes from our time spent living in Southern California.

Favorite Element: Our favorite element has to be our dining room table set since it was our first real Mid-Century modern piece. It was a lucky find at such a low price. Also, we love our dog billboard sign we made together. It brings back fun memories of living in our small Long Beach apartment painting into the early a.m. 

Biggest Challenge: Not having enough storage or space to bring in more furniture. We have a few pieces we would love to incorporate into the house, but we just don't have the room. They live in the basement for now.

What Friends Say: It's cozy yet minimal. And that they are amazed how well our stuff fits into the house.

Biggest Embarrassment: We have a few. The scratched, chipped and peeling paint in various parts of the house, but mainly in our entryway. Also, the old tile grout in the upstairs bathroom. Plus, the smell of old dog that surrounds B's most frequented sleeping locations.

Proudest DIY: Julie: I've really taken to the DIY movement since buying our house. I enjoy creating new things out of stuff I already own or grabbing hardware, wood, and paint from the store and building my own creation. My proudest DIY is probably the reading nook/storage bench. I wanted to create a space to store toys upstairs and have it function as a place to relax while Elliott plays. My original vision was a bit more polished. Unfortunately, my carpentry skills are limited. My hope is to use the space to cuddle, read stories, and take in the scenery.

Biggest Indulgence: I believe it was our sectional sofa.

Best Advice: If your partner has just as much creative input into the design of your home as you, learn to compromise aspects of your opposing styles. This has been a struggle for us in the past but now flows very well. Other advice is that a new coat of paint and fun hardware will transform any dull or odd piece into something you'll love, and satiate your desire to go buy something new. 

Dream Sources: Our dream sources go far beyond these few but definitely Room & Board, Design within Reach, Jonathan Adler, Restoration Hardware, Ruth & Ollie, Just Modern in Palm Springs. 

Resources of Note:


  • Living Room – Valspar, Cement Gray

  • Kitchen – Valspar, Cement Gray

  • Dining Room – Behr, Stone

  • Master Bedroom – Valspar, Cement Gray

  • Elliott's room – Valspar, Rocky Bluffs


  • Sofas – La Difference, Richmond VA

  • Pillows – Etsy, ClassicByNature

  • Coffee table –

  • Rug – West Elm

  • Curtains – West Elm

  • Shelving – Custom made by Daniel Rickey

  • Orange side table – Garden Ridge, leg base painted by Julie

  • Candlesticks on mantel – Home Goods, painted by Julie

  • TV stand/chest – Great Finds & Designs, Timonium Maryland

  • Artwork behind TV – Thrift store in Long Beach, CA

  • Chair with orange pillows in corner – Julie's mom's house, cushions from Pier One, Pillow is Ralph Lauren found at Home Goods

  • Tent in playroom – Ikea

  • Firetruck in playroom – yard sale

  • Sofa in playroom – Ikea

  • Pillows in playroom – Tropical Palm Leaves-Etsy, Loubella1 

  • Curtains – Ikea


  • Table & Chairs – Thrift Store in San Clemente, CA

  • "Billboard" artwork – Designed and hand drawn by Chris; painted by Julie

  • White chest with assorted knobs – Great Finds & Designs, Timonium Maryland, assorted knobs from Anthropologie

  • Chandelier – left by previous owners and Julie painted white

  • Console between windows – Great Finds & Designs, Timonium Maryland

  • Big lamp on console – Home Goods  

  • Rug – purchased from previous house owners


  • Dishwasher – Frigidaire Gallery

  • Oven – Frigidaire Gallery

  • Microwave – Frigidaire Gallery

  • Refrigerator – Bosch

  • Pendant light – Lowe's

  • Track lighting – Lowe's


  • Bed – Ikea

  • Bedding – West Elm

  • Pillows – ClassicByNature

  • Bedside tables – Half moon antique table was a free find and repainted by Julie, round side table is from Home Goods

  • Bedside lamps – Home Goods

  • Track lighting – Lowe's

  • Artwork over bed – Original design by Chris Peel

  • Chest of drawers – Julie's father's antique dresser, knobs from Cost Plus and World Market

  • Ceiling light fixture – Joss & Main

  • Vanity – Antique store in Jacksonville, Maryland. Julie's childhood vanity.

  • Wardrobe – Ikea, knobs from Anthropologie

  • Curtains – Ikea

  • Elliott's crib – Posh Tots, Ouef Sparrow Crib

  • Letters over crib – Each letter was purchased and hand decorated by a friend for Julie's baby shower

  • Pouf – CB2

  • Tree stump pouf – Esty, bebemoon

  • Stag Pillow – Original design by Chris Peel

Thanks, Julie and Chris!

(Images: Natalie Grasso)

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