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Architecture & Design

Inside a Kid-Friendly, Fabulous University Park Home

This kid palace is good-looking enough for grownups.
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Nathan Schroder

Inside a Kid-Friendly, Fabulous University Park Home

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Ikki and Matt Stinson designed their University Park home with one vision in mind. Or more accurately, four of them.

Their house had to have enough space and functionality for four children in the jump-on-the-bed years and enough style for their design-obsessed parents.

The family likes to chill on the vintage Eames lounge chair and ottoman in the upstairs loft.

“We both love design and midcentury modern,” says Nikki, a former advertising creative director who now runs Tickled Designs, a custom paper goods business. Matt is an executive in the auto industry “who’s got a good eye and is opinionated,” she says. The couple worked with Robert Elliott Custom Homes to design and build the home and did the interior design themselves with “nothing formal” as their guiding principle. They bought the lot in 2013 and moved into the house in 2015.

Even before you step inside the bright red door with a keyless entry (Target red, explains Nikki), the couple’s desire for stylish functionality is evident. A front deck of Ipe wood is lined with benches for gathering, sipping beverages, and watching kids play. The brick was inspired by NorthPark Center, and the large peephole acts more as a small window, which elevates its utilitarian status with attractive design.

Inside, you step into a traditional layout of two front rooms separated by a foyer. But tradition ends there. A library with four chairs replaces a formal living room, and the entire family plays games there. A guest suite replaces the dining room. Nikki and Matt also did away with a formal front staircase. “It takes up too much room.” The staircase is toward the back of the house, with a tiny office for Nikki tucked underneath. A beechwood screen provides both a sliding door and unique design element.

Furnishings throughout are a mixture of vintage midcentury and modern pieces by Ligne Roset and others. Colors are a warm gray neutral with brass accents and pops of peacock blue and lime green, inspired by a graphic print from Maharam accent pillows in the family room.

Design Tip: Children’s rooms are a great place to play with color. Choose a pretty neutral for the walls and go bold with draperies, artwork, and throw pillows. A clear acrylic box makes for a peekaboo storage for stuffed animals.

The family shares meals at the dining table in a room that also doubles as an art atelier. A sliding whiteboard displays children’s artwork, which can be easily removed for a grownup affair. Behind the whiteboard is an art cabinet with cubbies for each child’s creations. Individualized storage is repeated throughout the house, with each child having a junk drawer in the kitchen and individual lockers in the mudroom. “Wherever I could find extra space, I did,” Nikki says.

The two upper floors contain bedrooms and bathrooms for each of the kids, ages 3, 6, 8, and 9, with a third-floor boy cave for their only son, the oldest child.

The one exception to the “no fancy” rule is the master bath suite, with floor-to-ceiling marble and the de rigueur elements of a custom closet, luxury shower, and sitting area.

“OK, this is a little fancy,” she says. “I definitely wanted a spalike experience. With four kids, I need a retreat.” But, she adds, “they come in here anyway.” 

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