Home Tour: Decorating with the New Neutral

outdoor dining space, wood furniture, bright accents
A stately Victorian home morphs into a warm, laid-back space with a family-hub kitchen at its center.

Relaxing the Rules

With two energetic sons, a lively labradoodle, and a pair of peppy kittens in the family, the central hallway in this home sees more than a little foot traffic. You'd think that kind of commotion wouldn't belong in a historic Victorian, but it happily abides here after a casual makeover made it as functional as it is attractive.

Open and Inviting

Forget frilly and straitlaced. Original bay windows steal the show in the living room. Neutral walls and furniture look fresh and inviting, while a mix of chocolate and orange accents adds a jolt of contrast against the light backdrop. Finishing touches include a multicolor area rug and a collection of glazed jugs and fresh flowers to brighten the coffee table.

Renewed Architecture

Old doors were removed and doorways expanded to open up the home. Decorative casings are counterbalanced by more rustic touches elsewhere, such as wooden windows with unpainted jambs and 8-inch random-plank paneling on many of the walls and ceilings.

United Elements

Bleached recycled white oak floors throughout the house lighten and unite the rooms. In the foyer, the floor treatment extends up the stairs. The rustic material is countered with a metal banister, keeping with the Belgian-urban farmhouse aesthetic.

Refined Dining

The former double parlor in the front of the house takes on a new role as both the living room and dining room. Unconventional furnishings -- a rustic concrete table, iron chandelier, and slipcovered benches and wicker chairs -- keep the dining area casual. A signature accent of lime green makes a statement against the subdued color scheme. To visually expand the space, the fireplace and built-in shelves were painted white and tailored with simple decorating.

All Lit Up

The round iron chandelier keeps in step with the home's persona, capturing both rustic and industrial qualities.

Showcased Storage

Built-in shelves create a beautiful display case in the dining room. The open space now boasts an arrangement of books and artwork. Painting the unit's back panel a deeper shade of gray brings cohesion to the rustic colors and textures elsewhere in the room.

Reuse and Recycle

The homeowners didn't want to spend a fortune on an oversize hood for the stove, so they came up with a cost-savvy solution. A stack of reclaimed oak flooring was left over from the kitchen floor, so they asked the contractor if he could use it to face the metal hood insert. The result is an eye-catching hood that melds with the kitchen.

Fresh Updates

The open kitchen is centered by a large island that serves as a cleanup zone and gathering spot. The homeowners opted for drawers instead of cabinetry below the counters because it's easier to keep pots, pans, and dishes organized and easy to access.

Built-In Storage

If your kitchen is all white, incorporate a few glass-front cabinets. That way, you can add personality and color on the shelf spaces. This built-in unit provides storage for extra dishes and drawers for linens and large serving platters. The countertop can also become a serving buffet.

Kitchen Workstation

This active kitchen workstation makes multitasking easy and convenient. Outfitted with a built-in desk, bulletin board, and overhead cabinetry, it offers plenty of storage to keep everything organized and within reach.

Fabulous Fixtures

Industrial mingles with traditional for a style-setting look in the kitchen. Above the island, contemporary pendant lights with special filament bulbs accentuate the architectural interest of the stove hood and glass-front cabinetry. The simple lighting brightens the area and boosts the industrial feel provided by the large aluminum sink and modern faucet.

Comfy Banquette

Nestled in the corner of the kitchen and piled high with pillows, the banquette is the epicenter of the home. A large formal dining room in the back of the house was sacrificed to gain more space in the kitchen for a banquette, which is where the family eats most of its meals. It's also a popular place for the boys to do homework or sit with friends.

Storage Nooks & Crannies

With the addition of built-in shelves alongside the banquette, the nook becomes an ideal storage space for breakfast dishes. An electrical outlet allows for a small television to be tucked away instead of occupying valuable counter space.

Attic Retreat

When the old master bedroom became a family room, the attic was transformed into a new master suite. Horizontal paneling gives the room a pleasing patina. A bench at the end of the bed replaces a standard footboard and offers a place to get ready before heading downstairs.

Bare Necessities

Simple is best when it comes to bedside accessories. An unfinished nightstand adds bare-bones beauty to the relaxed bedroom. For an artsy effect, the homeowners decorated with well-loved elements: An angular metallic lamp, stack of books, fresh flowers, and typographic serving platter look casual-chic atop the bedside table.

Room with a View

When the homeowners chose to remodel the attic, they handpicked the details for a cozy bedroom. New south-facing windows take in the view that convinced the homeowners to splurge on converting the space into a master suite. Two lounge chairs and a contemporary end table form a relaxing spot to read or bird-watch.

Great Outdoors

A historic Victorian home wouldn't be complete without a great outdoor space. Here, a cheery dining area on the deck offers a roomy place to eat and entertain. Bench-style seating is perfect for accommodating large groups of people and can be rearranged with ease. A large umbrella can stand alone or fit into the table for a shaded dining experience.

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