A note from our editors: 

It’s time for one of our favorite traditions! Each year, we spend the holidays reflecting on the stories and articles you loved most. It’s the “Best of Rue” and this is one of 2019’s top stories. Enjoy!

Previously published on November 12, 2019:

David, a real estate developer, and his wife Claire, the COO of a consumer goods company, and their two kids (ages 3 and 7) had been living in their original 2,700 square foot home for a few years. As their kids grew, they soon realized that their family required a space that could accommodate their more active lifestyle – a place where they could spend quality time together. They reached out to architect Karen Putnam of P2 Design to begin conceptualizing a 5,257 square foot new-build home, including a basement, from the ground up. She put them in touch with interior designer Katie Hodges, who brought to life the interior of the space.

“When I met Claire for our initial consultation, she had a newborn in one arm, and set of architectural plans in the other,” said Katie. “She was enthusiastically ready to kick off the meeting. Seemingly un-phased by the stress of it all, I was immediately in awe of this power-mama. This first impression was exactly the type of client she ended up being… unfussy, collected and focused.” The homeowners wanted their new place to feel simple and practical. In fact, rather than insist on custom high-end finishes, they wanted Katie to work with options that were more budget-friendly: more Home Depot than Ann Sacks. “At first, this wasn’t exactly the most stellar news for a designer who’s bursting at the seams with creative ideas,” the designer admitted. “But once I fully leaned in and understood the extent of their laid back lifestyle, I saw so much opportunity to create something special while still maintaining accessibility. My focus shifted to creating impact with the ‘sum of multiple parts’ versus ‘remarkable splurges’.”

Katie was adamant that she’d give her clients a personalized space that still fit the overall concept. The bathrooms, for example, were a mix of high and low: “For the kids’ baths, we went with good ol’ Home Depot’s porcelain penny round and hex tiles,” she explained. “In using these pretty basic materials, I was extremely conscious of elevating the other elements in the bathrooms to avoid the dreaded ‘builder-basic’ look found in spec homes in the area.” Having spent less on the tiles, she then had the budgetary room to select custom cabinetry and Newport Brass plumbing fixtures. “Had we opted for off-the-shelf or pre-fabricated cabinetry with the Home Depot tiles, we would have less opportunity for design.”

The kitchen’s concept was simple and classic: white subway tiles for the backsplash, white custom cabinets, and Katie’s go-to quartz for countertops: MetroQuartz’s “Colosseum” that didn’t have any excessive faux veining. To bring in designer elements, she chose Faithful Root’s White Oak Wade Stool and an Urban Electric chandelier over the dining table.

In the bedrooms, Katie saw an opportunity to infuse them with personality. “In the master bedroom, I was conflicted between ‘ethereal’ and ‘colorful’ design directions but found a way to marry the two,” she shared. “We began the design process with the vintage rug and paired it with soft and neutral foundational pieces, such as the custom linen bed and large-scale fabric lantern.” Katie brought another layer of depth and texture with the custom window seat upholstered in a vintage mudcloth fabric and pillows from her own online shop. “The Victoria Morris ceramic table lamps on the bedside tables added a touch of masculinity that broke up all the light colors and grounded that wall,” she said.

With nine months of planning and eleven to build, both designer and architect captured the relaxed, light, and practical feel that Katie’s clients had envisioned. “Claire and David were so thrilled with the outcome and loved how everything came together,” she said. “They are still growing into the house and making it their own, which is exactly how we envisioned their process.”