House Tours: Family-Friendly Modern Style

bedroom bureau
Chicago designer Susan Swanson blends bargain finds and design savvy to create a cool and contemporary home for her family of four.

Young Meets Modern

Creating a contemporary home for a young, active family can be a challenge, but designer Susan Swanson used her skills to soften corners, brighten colors, and blur lines between pure contemporary style and everything else for her home. In the living room, colorful throw pillows give life to the living room's quiet grays and browns.

Fabric Overhaul

Durable fabrics are essential for family-friendly spaces. Susan replaced the chair's original pink fabric with durable imitation suede for a contemporary look.

Bargain Tip: Susan salvaged the sofa and chair from a curbside. Search neighborhood curbs and garage sales for nice pieces that can be reupholstered for a fresh start.

Bargain Style

Susan mixes modern and antique pieces throughout the home. While her collection is diverse, the one constant is her choice of pieces with good lines. She found the stacked-acrylic lamp at a resale store and topped it with a shade from a big-box store. For about $40, she added light and interest to the living room.

Strong Lines

The bench poised below the stairs serves double duty. The throw pillows add color and a sense of comfort to the living room. When entertaining, the bench provides extra seating. The bench, coffee table, and side tables all have simple lines that give the room a contemporary flair.

Good Balance

The taupe-and-silver palette gives the family-friendly dining room a glamorous air. From the chairs around the table to the oversized floor lamps that flank the ebony console table, symmetry is the room's key design element.

Get the Look: Symmetry always says modern. The balanced alignment of chairs and matching floor lamps creates eye-pleasing order.

Growth Potential

To protect the dining-room table -- one of the home's few big-ticket items -- Susan had plexiglass cut to size to preserve the table's value through years of wear and tear as her children grow up.

Nice Neutrals

Varying shades of taupe, white, and cream on chair upholstery create an elegant color scheme.

Organized Style

The kitchen has traditional leanings, but overhead glass pendants, granite countertops, and stainless-steel accents bring in the sleekness Susan desired. To make the area family-friendly, she took an organized approach to the small space by including glass-front cabinets that make it easy to find items, a plate rack for everyday dishes, and a table-turned-kitchen island that adds counter space.

Family Time

Adjacent to the kitchen, the family room's furnishings and accents create a comfortable space with modern flair. A hand-me-down 1950s sectional sofa curves into a large round rug that echoes the shape of an oversized ottoman. Susan covered the ottoman and sofa in easy-to-clean indoor-outdoor fabric.

Modern Flair

A floating staircase, black-and-white portraits, and ladder-style shelving give the family room a modern edge. Susan used accents, such as the curvy, white pottery collection on the shelves, to give the room fluidity.

Pattern Play

In the master bedroom, Susan went bold with graphic patterns for upholstery, window treatments, and bedding. She limited the most graphic pattern to the window treatments. The panels' black circles on a white background create focal point for the room.

Clever Corner

The round shape and honey color of the wood chairs contrast with the ebony finish and square shape of the artwork and furniture throughout the bedroom.

Boxed In

Shapes make a big impact when repeated boldly and often. Susan stuck to squares when she designed her bedroom bureau. The rectangular piece features square knobs and complements a rectangular grouping of frames above it.

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