When designing a home for a family with young children, there are certain practicalities you must keep in mind: clutter must be contained, textiles should hide a multitude of sins, and the laundry room should be upstairs. But just because you live with toddlers doesn’t mean you want to live with Sesame Street-style—it’s got to appeal to the adults in the room, too. For homeowner Lauren Cohen Zinzi, this meant a “modern farmhouse” that was simple and uncluttered, on trend but virtually timeless. “I wanted a home with an open floor plan that was clean and calming, where I could walk in the door and just breathe,” she says. With these considerations in mind, she found Milton Development to be the perfect builders for her family’s dream home in Westport. “As a graphic designer, Lauren has a great eye for simplicity and design,” says Gina Braun, head of sales and marketing for Milton. Cohen Zinzi and Milton understood each other’s vision from the start. “She appreciated that Milton knew how to keep things in balance—we don’t go too far in a contemporary or traditional direction, and we are brave enough not to over-design,” says Braun.
The architect on the project, Marybeth Woods, is a “master at melding old and new,” says Gina. Indeed, this home is rooted in classic design—a white clapboard exterior, subway tile, wood floors, and traditional windows. Its young, modern sensibility was primarily expressed through the talents of interior decorator Karen Bow with mid-century furnishings, whimsical lighting, and bursts of jewel-toned color peppered throughout the neutral palette—sapphire blue chairs here, emerald green storage bins there.
This home balances grown-up style with child-proof functionality—the homeowners have two young kids. “Marybeth is a mother of three, so she knows how to be practical,” says Braun. “She knew how each corner of this home was going to be utilized and maximized.” On first glance, the kitchen is a gleaming example of minimalism with steel accents and sleek Calacatta countertops, but underneath the cool facade is basic, family-friendly design. The white stools and Verner Panton chairs are elegant but easy to clean, and the rustic farmhouse table embraces any nicks it may receive at the hands of a fork-wielding toddler. “The more you use that table, the better it looks,” says Bow. A pint-sized snack table sits in the corner so Lauren can keep her eye on the kids while cooking.
The living room also features a mash-up of old and new: iconic mid-century pieces, like an Arco floor lamp and white leather Eames lounge chair that sit atop an old-school bedrock of distressed wood floors, beadboard ceilings, and a sliding barn door made from reclaimed wood that Cohen Zinzi hand-selected from an old mill. Family has not been forgotten in this room, either. The sectional was budget-friendly (“We made a lot of choices with cats and kids in mind,” laughs Bow), and Milton built a custom bookcase to hide the back while creating useful storage for toys and books. The dark rug is a perfect stain-disguiser, and the one of a kind rustic slab coffee table has rounded corners to protect crawling babies from head bumps. (“I’m a mom—and a worrywart,” says Bow.) Custom floor cushions are stacked in the corner for easy perching—one side with a durable cotton boucle and the other a wipeable vinyl.
The kids’ bedrooms are practical—and good looking to boot. The young son’s Blu Dot bed has a low-profile, great for lounging. The accent wall of reclaimed wood is a rustic counterpoint to a red graphic print of Star Wars stormtroopers. “Invest in art for your kids,” recommends Bow. “It maintains its value and they can have it for life!” The baby girl’s pink, gold, and red nursery is an unconventional mix of mod and vintage, with a Lucite play table and velvet poufs which she can crawl and cruise around. Her patchwork rug is friendly to foot traffic, and won’t conceal stray Legos in its depths. A study room for the kids features two built-in desks for doodling and homework, and vibrant orange accents to keep their minds energized.
Where there are kids, there must be an adult sanctuary, as well. The master bedroom and bathroom are restful and serene, featuring sumptuous fabrics and an organic Curtis Jere metal sculpture from the seventies. An oversized egg-shaped bathtub is the perfect place to unwind after a day jam-packed with playtime.
This custom home is a true collaboration, finding a happy balance between old and new as well as young and adult. Most of all, it’s a purposeful space. “At Milton, we love imagining families in their homes for years—holiday gatherings, playtime, messy toddlers, teenagers who need their space, and adults who want quiet,” says Braun. “We think about all of these life events and design around that.”
- Milton Development, 203-441-8385, miltondevelopment.com
- Karen Bow Interiors, 914-953-1517