April 12, 2024
Sophisticated decor in a family-friendly house

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The evocative cloud mural by Schumacher in the sitting room reads as a neutral wash with a graffiti-like quality and the Visual Comfort & Co. chandelier lends an industrial, vintage vibe.Joyelle West Photography

Stacey Martin’s clients, a growing family soon to number four, wanted a balancing act in their Melrose home: a family-friendly environment that felt sophisticated, but didn’t require starting from scratch. “My approach is to not throw everything away,” says Martin, the founder of Stoneham-based The Freshmaker. “The beautiful things you collected are what makes your home sing.”

The couple also asked that the decor nod to the home’s provenance. The rehabilitated 1870 Victorian’s most charming features — original stained glass windows and a marble mantelpiece — felt like afterthoughts in the design. “The home has great bones that weren’t being highlighted,” Martin says.

The designer transformed the sitting room off the entry into a fashion-forward, but very cozy, nest where the couple curl up at the end of the day. A moody mural of billowing clouds aligns with the home’s era. “Nature murals are very Victorian,” Martin says, “so this feels historically accurate, but with a modern twist.”

The designer played off the mural’s base tones, which remind her of the layered patina of paint often found under years of wallpaper, by applying a decorative, clay-based brown plaster by Portola Paints to the chimney. The mottled Old World treatment emphasizes the tall ceilings and complements the purple-tinged marble mantelpiece, making it the room’s focal point.

A sturdy cocktail table with a hammered metal base and brown marble top bring the fireplace color and material to the center of the room, while a vintage side table from Mills 58 in Peabody adds age. “Mixing styles created an elevated and approachable feel that speaks to the home and the family,” says Martin.

The sitting room flows into the formal dining room turned playroom. Martin pulled the couple’s leather sofa out from the bay window to establish a play space behind it. “There is all kinds of colorful chaos happening back there — bins of toys, a fort, a play kitchen — and none of it is visible from the sitting room or the breakfast area,” the designer says.

Kids can color at the coffee table, which Martin saw no need to replace. She did, however, find a pre-owned blue console for storing craft supplies. The color ties to the stained glass window, so it no longer feels like an outlier. Artwork on the new gallery wall also helps weave its hues into the home.

The finishing touch is wallpaper picturing cranes with shimmery wings flying through a subtle landscape. “This unexpected detail feels intentional and fun but not babyish, and will look chic later when the space reverts to a dining room,” Martin says. “We made the spaces feel welcoming and in keeping with the elegant architecture without doing anything too drastic.”


Interior designer: The Freshmaker, thefreshmaker.net


In the sitting room, walnut shelves replaced family-unfriendly glass ones in the niche behind the fireplace. The painting by Wakefield artist Elizabeth Noble echoes the gentle colors of the stained glass in the playroom.Joyelle West Photography
The Laura Ashley paper on the playroom ceiling and the artwork, which includes an abstract by Shannon Coppage and botanicals by Anne-Louise Ewen, will adapt easily when the space reverts to a dining room.Joyelle West Photography

Marni Elyse Katz is a contributing editor to the Globe Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @StyleCarrot. Send comments to [email protected].