By the time their children are heading off to college, most parents in search of a new home are eager to downsize. Not Kim and Johnny Felder. To accommodate the eight members of their blended family, the couple needed a home that was not just large but had a layout that would work for their situation. “After 10 years of marriage, Johnny and I found that putting bedrooms for boys, girls, and parents on three different levels worked best for us,” says Kim. “It gives everyone the privacy they need and avoids potential awkwardness.”
Kim says that it was also important to create a home where all the children would want to gather for holidays and random weekends. “For that to work, everyone needed to feel like they had a place,” she says. “That meant a big dining room table with lots of chairs, plenty of seating in the den, beds for all, and overflow sleeping for friends, dogs, and, eventually, grandkids.”
Though their needs seemed fairly straightforward, finding the right house proved to be anything but. “Every place we visited needed so much work before it would work for us that we began to get discouraged,” says Kim. “As a last-ditch effort, our real estate agent sent us to look at this house, which was about a third of the way completed. But even with the dirt mounds, boarded-up doorways, construction piles, and challenging topography of the steeply sloped front yard, we knew it checked all the boxes.”
After another walk-through and a few discussions with Johnny, Kim’s first call was to Christy Edens, a designer with Verve Interiors who had helped the couple with their previous home. “I knew I’d need Christy’s help from the very beginning,” she says. “By the time we’d talked through how to bring some of the ideas I’d had to life, I realized that this could actually work.”
Kim and Christy decided that the home’s three upstairs bedrooms would work for Kim and Johnny’s four daughters, who range in age from 21 to 26. “It’s basically first come, first served,” says Kim with a laugh. “The third bedroom has two twin beds, so once in a while two girls will need to bunk up, but for the seven to 10 nights a year we’re all together it works.” Johnny’s sons, Gressette and William, would have the entire ground level — complete with a bedroom, bathroom, den, and separate entrance — to themselves.
Once the children’s sleeping arrangements had been taken care of, Kim and Christy focused on transforming the large, open rectangle that comprised the house’s main level into a welcoming space for friends and family members.
Open concept floor plans have a lot to love — since no walls block light or create a rabbit warren of small rooms, homes designed in this fashion have an easy sense of airy freedom absent in other styles. It works for families, too. Children can do homework while parents work on weekend projects, family members can be together even if they’re involved in different activities, and whoever is cooking dinner can chat with family members and guests as they proceed. But all that sweeping space, which minimizes privacy and can be noisy, is often a challenge to design and decorate. “I adore an open floor plan, but it does mean you need to work a little harder to create coziness,” says Christy. “It’s all about furniture placement, lighting, textures, and scale.”
In the Felders’ house, the front door opens into a horizontal rectangle bathed in soft light. Vertically laid floorboards draw the eye to a trio of French doors that open onto a covered patio and just beyond a calm expanse of pool and lawn. Running along the ceiling between the doors, a pair of walnut-hued beams visually separate the expanse into three distinct areas: a kitchen and dining area to the left, a living room to the right, and front and center a skirted round table atop an Ushak rug in muted shades of rose, deep brown, and coral. Hanging above, a white wrought iron chandelier fills the space without distracting from or blocking the view out of the center pair of French doors to the porch.
Throughout the space, the lines are straight and clean. Crown molding is minimal, cabinet faces are simple, and the rich fabric of the draperies — which matches the color of the walls — is unembellished.
It’s hard not to be drawn to the large kitchen, which features honed marble countertops on a pair of islands with one used for working and one for eating; stainless steel appliances; and a marble backsplash. A coffered ceiling is an elegant detail that’s more felt than noticed as it visually separates the space from the rest of the house. Since the island and a walk-in pantry provide an abundance of storage, the dark wood paneled area around the stove is open. Hidden nooks keep spices within reach without creating clutter.
Though all of the home’s walls and ceilings are painted the same shade, Sherwin-Williams’ classic creamy Alabaster, contrasting dark wood used in both the architectural accents and the furnishings further unifies the room. On the floor, it offers a dramatic anchor; above, the richly toned wood beams, with an assist from the black wrought-iron drapery hardware, provide a comforting halo. Throughout the living room area, the exposed legs of the sofas and ottoman also share that same deep glow, as do the three chests scattered about the room, the kitchen islands, and the range’s surround. Doorways to the powder room and pantry are painted black with a soft satin finish.
Besides unifying a large space, the home’s singular palette has another benefit: it provides a blank canvas for the Felders’ collection of paintings, Ushak rugs, screens, chests, and other accessories. “This is where a room gets its personality,” says Christy. “I tell clients that if they love something, whether it’s a piece of art or a light fixture, they should buy it. They’ll always be able to find a place for it.”
In the Felder home, beautifully curated and organized collections are so artfully placed that they resemble a still life painting. Just off the foyer in a small recess, a classic chest is topped by a painted lamp, a swirling bowl atop a coffee table book, a pair of wrought iron candlesticks, and a tall white pitcher filled with palm fronds. On the wall above, a carved and inlaid mirror is ornate yet unobtrusive. Opposite the front door, another chest holds a sparkling collection of crystal and an urn-shaped gold lamp that gently glows; a few feet away, a richly toned landscape hovers above a side table that looks almost sculpted and is simply decorated with a low stack of books and an organic sculpture.
When they’re not gathered around the dining room table, the Felder family tends to gravitate to the den, which occupies a space off the kitchen and somehow manages to be both cozy and sophisticated. Set into a corner, an inviting beige sectional sofa extends along two walls to create an abundance of seating; two matching beige chairs, a low-slung tufted leather chaise, and two stools upholstered in faux fur offer even more seating. Tabletops, too, are plentiful, including a large, flat upholstered ottoman, side tables galore, and a Moroccan chest. The space has much to look at, too, including a Turkish rug in muted sunset shades, a large abstract painting, a grouping of portraits on the wall, and a stunning filigree screen inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
“This house is a great example of starting with the basics, then layering for interest,” says Christy. “Even though the house and some of the furnishings are new, rugs on rugs, artwork, different light fixtures, throw pillows, and lamps all work together to make it look collected. Think of it as dressing up a great pair of jeans with the right accessories.”
With its deep gray bookcases, upholstered chairs, and plush patterned rug, the office is equally inviting. Much of the appeal comes from the assortment of books that line the shelves. “Books are fun to collect, and they look pretty not just on shelves, where they work on their sides or stacked, but everywhere,” says Christy. “I put them on dressers, coffee tables, or really anywhere that needs another layer of interest.”
As much as the Felders enjoy the interior of their home, when the weather cooperates the family often finds themselves outside, either sitting at a long dining table on the covered porch or gathered around the outdoor fireplace built into one wall of the pool house.
While some pool houses are little more than a shady place to sit, the Felders’ version is more like an apartment. “Johnny had visions of a man cave,” says Kim with a laugh, “which would have been great, but with six children, who often bring dogs and friends with them when they come home, we needed it to offer more space for sleeping.” In the end, the two-story structure became a little of both. Lots of beds, including built-in bunk beds, are included, as well as a comfortable seating area, a dining area, and a large television. White tongue-in-groove paneling on the walls and ceiling and rustic floorboards give the space a vintage feel.
“When all the children are here and they’ve brought friends, we’re really glad to have so much space,” says Kim. “If they’re comfortable and feel like they’ve got their own space, they’ll keep coming home, which is what we really care about.”