A young couple with three children under the age of seven fell in love with a new, six-bedroom house in McLean after targeting its specific neighborhood in their search for a larger home. “We liked that McLean has a little downtown area, but it’s still close to DC,” says the wife. “The schools are really good and there are a lot of families with young kids.”
They bought the home, but faced a common quandary: how to create chic, grown-up interiors that would withstand the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of active little ones?
Luckily, they hired designer Celia Welch, who captured her clients’ sense of style while keeping a practical eye on durability. “The house was an empty shell and didn’t say anything about who they are,” Welch recalls. “It was a matter of carefully working with existing architecture to bring in their personalities.”
Another priority was minimizing clutter. “Initially, toys were everywhere,” the designer continues. “We needed to integrate the children into space but hide their things so it wouldn’t feel like a kids’ space all the time.”
As Welch and her clients worked on a furniture plan, they blended retail finds with custom pieces—including an office credenza, a breakfast table and sideboard and a family-room storage unit, all designed by Welch and fabricated by a local woodworker. By sketching out the details and proportions and specifying the exact wood grain and finish for these pieces, she gave her clients lasting, one-of-a-kind furnishings that perfectly fit their needs.
Dark-stained floors and pale gray walls set the tone for rooms on the ground level, while blue accents add just the right measure of color. Artwork sourced at Kaller Fine Arts in DC also makes a bold statement, from the abstract piece that greets guests in the main entrance to the bright photographs printed on aluminum that hang in the wife’s home office. With paneled walls painted in glossy charcoal, this study is more sexy than sedate. Marble tops the desk and custom blue-velvet upholstery adds a touch of glam to a Restoration Hardware chair.
A serene vibe prevails in the living room, where pale blue Romo upholstery on the A. Rudin sofa and a painting called “Winter” add soft hints of blue.
The center hall leads to the facing dining and family rooms. In the former, blue Cowtan & Tout grass cloth provides texture above crisp white wainscoting; an Arteriors chandelier adds industrial flair. Tight-backed sofas, leather chairs and a leather-topped ottoman in the family room withstand marauding youngsters, who store their belongings in the corner unit that Welch carefully designed to hold every last little car and truck. “Keeping things in their place creates a sense of order,” says Welch. “Once people know there’s a space for everything, they’re more relaxed.”
The wife agrees, “The family room is sleek and clean, but it’s functional. The kids climb all over the place. When they go to bed, I put all their toys away and it looks really nice.”
“Once people know there’s a space for everything, they’re more relaxed.” —Celia Welch
The adjacent breakfast nook serves as another kid-friendly yet stylish hangout. A blue accent wall offsets family photos displayed on narrow metal shelves. Welch designed the wooden table and matching bench to be comfortable for all ages. To guarantee easy cleanup, she selected simple metal chairs from Design Within Reach. And the sideboard, also designed by Welch, neatly stores books and toys along with serving pieces.
The family loves to cozy up on the screened porch, complete with a fireplace and flat-screen TV. Restoration Hardware furniture and a rug from Crate & Barrel make it a fun gathering spot well into fall.
Now that they’ve settled into their new home, the owners enjoy every space, whether they are reading with the children or throwing an elegant dinner party. “This project shows my core philosophy,” reflects Welch. “Things look beautiful and refined but are still very comfortable and easy. I truly believe that if there’s simplicity in the design, it creates an ease in the way you live.”
Interior Design: Celia Welch, Celia Welch Interiors, Bethesda, Maryland.