In June 2007, Tim and Shannon Thrun moved from their Fairway house to a Country Club District colonial that promised more room for their growing family, including a three- month-old baby.
Tim, an executive with ThyssenKrupp Access, and Shannon, who had just become a stay-at-home mom, really liked the home’s traditional charm. But with five children and small rooms, Shannon yearned for a bigger space “where we could all be together,” she says.
For that, she turned to Daniel Houk and his associate, Debbie Cansler, both of Trapp and Company. Houk had designed two homes for Shannon’s parents, and he knew just the kind of space she wanted. Plus, this young family was living in a “mature home,” as he puts it, when they really needed to go younger, fresher and brighter.
Shannon had saved a page from a magazine with a large bookcase painted gray. Tim’s favorite color is blue, so Houk combined the two for the color palette that rules the ground floor: slate gray and vivid blue with punches of tangerine.
With Houk’s guidance, they “took a formal dining room, a breakfast room, a kitchen, and an extension and created the big living space we wanted,” says Shannon Thrun. Using family-friendly finishes (lots of outdoor fab- rics), Houk made it stylish yet practical.
“We use every single spot,” Thrun says.
Yet the home also has that established Country Club Plaza feel to it, too.
The generous front hallway sets the tone right away with blue-and-gray striped wallpaper by Farrow & Ball and a lantern light with painted details in tangerine. Gray-and-black pinstripe carpeting on the stairs looks smart but also camouflages heavy traffic.
To the right is the large living space that is anchored at the back by the kitchen. Thrun wanted a huge island where she could work on her laptop, the kids could do their homework, and they all could sit around for a meal or for entertaining. They found a huge slab of marble in the gray tones they wanted with a wavy, serpentine grain.
Cadet blue faux leather bar stools can be wiped clean in seconds. Chalkboard paint on the refrigerator turns it into a family message center. The nearby mudroom, where the kids have cubbies and the dogs hang out, features easy-care yet colorful tile walls.
The kitchen flows into an eat-in area with a big farm table covered in zinc that they found at Anthropologie, surrounded by chairs in a blue, chartreuse and gray outdoor fabric.
The media area and hearth room features a big-screen television, framed and with a retractable cover so that it appears to be a painting when not in use. A big, comfy sofa in royal blue, a herringbone area rug, and a coffee table that they can put their feet on make TV watching fun.
A round table surrounded by chairs in the nook offers a quiet spot for playing games. Shots of tangerine and chartreuse make the classic blue-and-white theme more contemporary. Across the hall, the dining room has the same color scheme but a completely different feel.
“It’s the dining room of my dreams,” Thrun says.
Because the room has a fireplace, three doors, and five windows, Houk used a designer’s trick to simplify by padding and covering the walls with the same Mark Alexander fabric he used in the draperies.
Along one wall, a large bookcase from the Thruns’ Fairway house— now painted slate gray—doesn’t let on that it was the starting point for the whole project. Upstairs, 11-year-old Kaitlin’s room in vivid turquoise and orange features a tufted headboard and enough sophistication for her to grow into.
“I happen to love painted floors,” says Houk, so giving Kaitlin’s room a painted floor with a border of her favorite turtles was a natural.
Caroline (10) and Marin (7) share a room, where American Girl dolls rest up until their next play date. Plaid painted floors and a wallpapered ceiling add to the fun. A pair of antique beds, found in Beaufort, South Carolina, help ground this pink and green space.
But the big draw is the book nook, a daybed in an alcove closed off by curtains where the girls curl up with a good book. The two older children, one in the Air Force and the other at Loyola in Chicago, have their rooms on the third floor.
“We’re so happy here,” says Thrun. “Especially at dinner time, when we’re all around the island, just enjoying life.”