Every designer working on homes where children live faces a similar dilemma: how to protect fine and expensive things from the attentions of active kids, in this case, four rambunctious boys ages 1 to 9. Oliver has a simple strategy: "Go with the flow," she says.
That meant that in the family room the patterned fabrics fulfill a role beyond color and scale; simply put, prints camouflage dirt. The coffee table was purchased with a "distressed" finish—it came into the house looking banged-up already, so no harm, no foul when it gets a kid-created scratch. Doors were put on a set of bookcases to cover up the easily breakable sound equipment inside. Accessories were kept above reach, and Oliver uses inexpensive objects to dress a room.
From the beginning Sandi and Jeff had two things working for them: They asked themselves smart questions and they took the long view. By wondering whether this house could meet their needs in both the short and long term, they minimized stress and maximized design as they transformed from a couple into family, and created a home to grow with them.
Patrick Soran is a frequent contributor to 5280's home and architecture coverage.