Marriage requires trust. It took Michael Konradi two years to accept that. His wife, Wendy, wanted nothing more than to paint the living and dining room floors of their Marquita Avenue house white. She had already taken his inherited grandparents’ furniture and re-covered the pieces in white. And now she wanted to finish the look. “I thought it was important to have drama when you walk in,” says Wendy, vice president and senior design associate at Emily Summers Design Associates.
But Michael hesitated. “It honestly took years for her to convince me that it was going to look good and that it would stand up the way we wanted it to. … She won me over,” he says. In just a few years’ time, the couple had two children scooting and running around on the white floors, without a mark left behind. “[It’s] deck paint,” Wendy says. “The same thing they use on naval ships. It’s indestructible. I like when things patina and get a little age to them. White floors are so scary to people, but I knew it’d be a safe way to go.”
The couple’s creative approach to mixing great design with small children is evident throughout the house. From the sea grass in the playroom to the built-in window seats in the kitchen, Wendy combines fun with function. One of the best parts of 13-month-old Carrigan’s room is the green floor. The 19-by-19 tiles pop in and out of place. When they get dirty, they can either be bleached or just taken outside and hosed off. “It’s really durable and wonderful for kids,” Wendy says. Carrigan Wren’s room plays off her middle name—it has a bird theme. “It’s weaved its way throughout,” Wendy says.
Wendy is the first to admit that kids seem to get into every nook and cranny in a home—and even into their parents’ favorite pastimes. “Mike and I have collected photography books and art books for years. So, of course, it was natural that when kids came along, we started looking at children’s books. We love great covers. There’s so much wonderful art in kids’ books,” she says. The shelves in 4-year-old Camden’s room evolved into constantly changing art installations. At bedtime the “art” plays a different role—nighttime reading happens in Camden’s custom-made bunk bed, which Wendy designed.
Probably the most notable kid-friendly aspect of the home is the blackboard wall in the kitchen. Even though the Konradis applied the Benjamin Moore blackboard paint before they even had kids, they knew it would be put to good use by adults and children alike. “If you’re having friends over at night for a dinner party and it’s erased, it gives off a beautiful patina,” Wendy says. “But then when your kids come in and scribble all over it, that’s fun, too.”
Wendy and Michael casually began looking for a new home two years ago, and they finally found The One. It’s bittersweet—they’ll miss the Lakewood bungalow, but Wendy says it’s time to move on. “We certainly had a vision for [the house], and we saw that vision to a certain degree—adding on, the kids’ rooms evolving—but then it kind of stopped, and now we’re on to the new house,” she explains. “It’s kind of fun to see someone look at your house with fresh and creative eyes.”
The plan for the new house remains the same as that of the former. “You want your house to feel sophisticated and a place that you’d be proud to entertain in,” Wendy says. “I think it’s important that your kids are surrounded by interesting objects. I think it’s fun to develop their vision and their appreciation for things at an early age.” And if that doesn’t work, when in doubt, go white.