In lieu of design compromises, a designer and mom of two creates a kid-friendly home that boasts a sophisticated aesthetic
When Laura Archibald and her husband, David, first moved into their 1930s Myers Park home in 2006, they knew that the house would need some updates and a face-lift in the kitchen despite several renovations done by previous owners. It wasn’t long before they were ready to begin tackling home improvement projects, keeping in mind that at some point their family of two would become a family of three—or four. “We didn’t have kids when we first moved in, but I kept children in mind [when designing],” Laura Archibald says, smiling as she adds the caveat, “to some degree.”
For Archibald, a home’s interior aesthetic doesn’t have to be compromised because a family has young children. In fact, when the Archibalds welcomed sons Henry and Yates, now three and five, respectively, Laura barely tweaked her design to accommodate her two growing boys. “I’ve never been one to feel like you can’t have pretty things until your children are older,” she says. “I like beautiful things … I don’t try to decorate around my kids too much. I don’t obsess over it.”
The family room, for example, features windows, transoms, and French doors that span the entire wall leading outside. Laura added an indoor/outdoor rug and swathed both sofas in dark-gray indoor/outdoor velvet—a resilient, forgiving fabric. “We live in that room,” Laura says, so it had to not only work with the aesthetic she laid out but also accommodate her family. A custom ottoman covered in an Osborne & Little cut velvet fabric serves not only as a coffee table but also as a place for her sons to play with toys or read books. A seating area behind the couch, featuring two chairs and a chartreuse reptilian stool, offers an adult hideaway to read by the fire. To fill the void of two large walls that flank the entrance from the family room to the dining room, Laura added trim, wallpaper by Zoffany, and two sconces.
Though the dining room at first glance appears to be an adults-only space, Laura added an antelope wool rug that the boys “ride their cars all around. That rug is pretty forgiving because it has a lot of pattern to it and is pretty durable,” she says.
A dining table the couple purchased from Mary Francis Miller Antiques when they first married serves as the centerpiece and is highlighted by a high-gloss paint on the ceiling and cut rectangular mirrors accented with rosettes to add a reflective sheen to the room. To keep it from being a “sea of wood,” Laura added upholstered nailhead trim chairs with skirts to complement the existing Chippendale chairs. “Because you see the dining room from every room, I would sit in the family room and think all of this wood from the chairs and table and buffet was just too much. So I added the skirts to soften the look.”
Adjacent to the dining room is one of Laura’s favorite rooms, the living room—which in spite of the rich velvet-striped fabric by Dedar on two chairs, two vintage chairs swathed in a soft mohair, and silk throw pillows—is still kid-friendly. Though it appears to have a sheen, the sofa is covered in a durable and easy-to-clean cotton. Here, Laura’s choice of a neutral color palette comes to life when pops of black—in the lamp bases and oversized lampshades; chairs with sleek, black legs; and built-in shelves painted in a bronze tone—add a sophisticated look to the room.
For the Archibalds, designing around their growing family was never out of the question—it just wasn’t necessary. The result of Laura’s conscious effort to create a well-designed, family-friendly home: a space where adults and children can mingle—and cohabitate—without ever sacrificing on design. “I always felt like you can still have beautiful things in your home,” she says, “if you choose them appropriately.”