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Comfortably Contemporary


Treasured pets Lola and Snoopy nap on the front porch.

Annemarie Stiehl knows what she likes and she wasn’t about to settle when it came to finding a new home for her and her two young children, Isabella and Sebastian.

“I looked at probably 40 or 50 homes,” she recalls. “I wanted something fresh and contemporary, but I didn’t see much of that around. And it was either too far away or not kid friendly or too big or whatever. If I liked it, it had no backyard or the yard was too big or the house was too dark. It was really hard to find a more or less European style house, something in my taste that had the things I wanted, “ says the German-born homeowner.

But then her realtor friend sent her an Internet link that set off bells. There on the computer screen was a fully remodeled home that spoke to her minimalist, streamlined design sensibility. The previous homeowner, Kevin Spearman of Bellacasa Design Associates, was the brain behind the remodel. It was as if the 2800-square-foot home’s interior had been gutted and reworked with Annemarie in mind.

“I liked it, made an appointment, and here we are,” says Annemarie, who could immediately envision her belongings in this house. Among those things is a collection of vibrant artwork, much of it from Sudan-born artist Hussein Salim. “I love the bold color,” she says of the paintings that pop against the home’s pristine white block paneling.

Visitors begin their visual treat on the front porch where family dogs Lola and Snoopy often greet them. Enter inside and an open floorplan lets the eye wander, taking in the combination of art, organic accessories and modern, yet comfortable furnishings.

“This house works with my things,” explains Annemarie, who identified with the previous homeowner when it comes to furniture. “I like this piece,” she says of a cleverly designed banquette (custom by Bellacasa) in the breakfast room. She quickly claimed the Spearmans’ contemporary sofa in the upstairs television room as her own as well.

“I could have gotten other things that were offered with the house but I had my things,” says Annemarie who moved from a larger home in the area. “I knew my furniture would work here.”

Indeed, it all does. Annemarie has a designer’s eye, adopting a less-is-more attitude. The result is a clutter-free abode that allows one to appreciate each piece for its contribution to the room.

The aesthetic here leans toward contemporary but not in a cold way. Instead, the vibe is casual, comfortable contemporary that lends itself to all things family. And this family does use every inch of this house, starting in the living room where two black leather Barcelona chairs offer the ultimate in comfort along with a streamlined, white sofa from Lambert.

An adjacent light-filled dining room is awash in gleaming white block paneling that adds architectural interest. The chairs and dining room table are also from Lambert, a furniture company that Annemarie admires for its clean-lined designs.

This four-bedroom home appealed for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact it has a downstairs office for Annemarie. “I really use that space,” she says of the room that sits just left of the front entrance. The room was cleverly outfitted with a wall of shelves, cabinets and drawers.

To the back of the downstairs is the den, breakfast area and kitchen, a sensible layout for family. A colorful striped rug from Anthropologie sets a lively tone in the den where an interesting wooden bench, sectional sofa and silver-plated coffee table, all from Lambert, share space with a favorite chair that was handed down to Annemarie from family.

Perhaps the most striking space is the kitchen, where concrete countertops, open shelves, gray cabinets, a butcher block island and simple pendants combine for an upscale, modern cottage look. Even the pantry door has something to say in this room with uplifting messages in white printed against stark black. “It gives me a smile every morning when I see it,” Annemarie says.

The house has a third living space upstairs. This television room is a great meeting space for family with a wide hallway leading to the master suite. The master bathroom is a vision with a freestanding double marble vanity, large shower and claw foot bathtub set against white walls of paneling.

Adjacent to the master is son Sebastian’s room where papier-mache safari animals share wall space with artwork. Around the corner upstairs is a guest bedroom and daughter Isabella’s room, decked out in pink with her treasured collection of dolls.

The only cosmetic endeavors Annemarie took on in this new abode were the addition of colorful plants in her back yard. “That, and we cut some trees in the front to freshen up the yard,” she says. “This house really was ready for us.”

Many items in the home are intriguing, but one that instantly draws the eye — and invites conversation —is a large tree trunk sitting in the corner near the staircase between the living and dining room.

“I’ve always wanted one,” Annemarie says, adding that a South African friend and artist she collects, Carl Roberts, makes sculptures out of bones and tree trunks. “But imagine trying to get one here from there,” she says. “Well, I found this one here at Anthropologie, so it worked out.

“It is comfortable living here. It is a good house for us.”


Text by Cathy Gordon  |  Pictures by Bookwalter Photography

Vibrant accessories, including artwork by Sudan-born artist Hussein Salim, make this house pop with color. Barcelona chairs mingle with a casual white sofa in the living room. The large tree trunk in the corner was found at Anthropologie.

The house shouts curb appeal from its wooded lot.

Outdoor living is important to this family. Here, a backyard poolside view.

Colorful artwork by Sudan-born artist Hussein Salim is eye-catching in the home’s dining room. Large white block paneling adds architectural interest. Chairs and dining table are from Lambert.

A custom banquette adds a touch of elegance and whimsy in the breakfast room, paired with a Lambert table and chairs from Design Within Reach.

Annemarie’s love of color is reflected in this Anthropologie rug underfoot in the den. The sofa and silver-plated coffee table from Lambert are paired with a treasured chair handed down from Annemarie’s family and a stool from Lambert that adds interest to the room.

The kitchen in this home is a light-filled showstopper with concrete countertops, butcher-block island and cabinets in a soft gray paint.

The master bathroom is fresh in pristine white paneling, streamlined marble vanity and a claw foot bathtub.

A study infused with sunlight and vibrant accessories provides inspiration for Annemarie while she works.

An Anthropologie pillow and throw add color to the bed in the guest room. Art work by Hussein Salim.

Legos are an important, fun accessory in son Sebastian’s room. > Annemarie’s children get into the swing of things in the home’s front yard. > A collection of dolls takes up residence in daughter Isabella’s bedroom.

The upstairs television room is a favorite hangout for Annemarie’s children. Here, an Anthropologie rug and streamlined sofa combine for a minimalist, yet comfortable aesthetic.



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