...because home doesn't happen overnight.
09.16.13 / Five Things

I have favorite big time / professional / elite designers whose style I’m drawn to but recently even my favorites’ work feels a bit stuffy and unrealistic. The spaces they design are totally stylish and magazine-worthy but not exactly what I envision my family living in on a day-to-day basis. Instead, I find myself drawing inspiration from homes decorated by the people whom live in them. Maybe – ? – it’s because I’m staying at home with the kids and spending almost all of my time in the house. Whatever the reason, I’m sharing the top five homes that inspire me to make my house a home. As far as I know, they are homes that have never been featured in print. Yet.

Each of them inspire me for different reasons – mood, architecture, light, character, décor, materials, etc. – and the range in aesthetics is broad. But the one thing they all have in common? I could totally picture my family living happily in each one. Here we go.

Cozy Modern Blend


If I had to pick one to be a ‘dream house’ for my family, this would be it. HH would affectionately call it cheating but…the owners hired an architect to transform an original bungalow into this modern masterpiece. The modern architecture and sleek materials are right up HH’s alley and I like the wood tones, pops of color & pattern, and eclectic textiles. This home is clean and bright with just the right amount of warmth and cozy texture to make it feel welcoming. Truth be told, I would probably add a tad more décor-wise but I’m drawn to the simplicity of living with less.

texas white and wood collage

With polished concrete, wood and tiled surfaces, I could see the shell of this house holding up to the abuse of our young family for years and years.

Compact & Homey


I’ve only seen peeks at this small and family-friendly home and I want more! I’m hoping the full house tour will pop up on Apartment Therapy someday. Anyhow, right off the bat this space feels oh-so-cozy and personal.

small cool collage

The oversized black and white photos, the pops of red, the painted brick walls, the overscale décor pieces, the neatly tucked in kid stuff…all of it makes me want to snuggle in with my family. This space is less than 900 sq ft {!} and yet it feels livable even for a family. The owner admits to tweaking each and every thing she could over a six year period. She bought the small condo as a single woman and has since added a spouse, a dog and two kids into the mix, revising the décor as necessary. For example, she and her husband turned the master bedroom into a kids’ shared bedroom. She’s passionate about living with only the things she loves and nothing more. So inspiring!

Uniquely Beautiful


This home is owned by an interior designer but it doesn’t feel stuffy or too perfect so it makes the cut. I can appreciate all the work that this designer says went on behind the scenes {i.e. behind the walls}. You know I’m a sucker for showing houses a little TLC. The designer and her partner worked for months to bring plumbing and electrical systems up to date. Only then could they think about décor and furnishings.

unique collage

Images of this home creep into my mind often. The tuxedo kitchen, the blue-black accent walls, the vintage rugs & pillows & throws, the mix of old + new…they all make this home unique and beautiful.

Charming and Fearless

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This home is owned by a writer and stylist. It has been so lovingly decorated that I had to include it in my top five. Oh, that bedroom!

ab chao collage

This house is fearless. Fierce even. Moody walls? Check. White walls? Check. Ostrich wallpaper? Check. Trellis wallpaper? Check. Amazing art? Check. Everywhere I look something catches my eye yet it doesn’t feel cluttered or busy. I like that each room is different but you can tell they were decorated by the same person. Rules schmules. This home inspires me to be a little braver in my design choices. My family would have fun living in such a bold space!

Elegant & Playful


Finally, this home is my #1 out of the five. It is the result of a year-long renovation of a 1950’s midcentury house. The owners {an architect and his wife} wanted nothing more than to create a simple, well-crafted space that works for the way their family lives. I love the idea of keeping quality family time in mind when renovating or decorating a home.

elegant playful collage

Square footage was added in the kitchen to make it a natural gathering spot for the family. The numerous wall built-ins scattered throughout the home provide moments of storage and display while keeping unnecessary furniture off the floor. I love that there isn’t a formal living room – just one relaxed and comfortable family room. To me, the décor is spot on for a stylish family. Much of the furniture and accessories are widely accessible. West Elm, IKEA, Home Goods, FLOR and CB2 are well-represented but they are mixed in with vintage midcentury pieces and meaningful art to give them a more lived-in feel.


The other thing I’m really drawn to about this home is its connection to the outdoors. During renovation, windows were reconfigured to optimize natural light and views of tree canopies while retaining privacy. The yard has all the things an energetic family would want – swing, trampoline, fire pit, outdoor dining – but they are simple and understated. This home is special indeed and one that I would never want to leave. It addresses all the things I look for in an inspiring home: mood {happy & casual}, architecture {well-thought & simple}, light {great natural lighting with views to the outdoors}, character {midcentury modern roots}, décor {elegant, family-friendly & accessible}, materials {high quality & durable}.

Those are the livable yet stylish homes inspiring me at the moment. Of course, I have many more house crushes but these five really do it for me. What homes do you look to for inspiration? I’d love to know. Please leave links to your favorite homes in the comments section below. With the bevy of resources available nowadays, I feel like I’m always missing something good!

Check out who won the mini Templeton here!

images: 1 & 2) Adrienne Breaux for Apartment Therapy 3 & 4) Apartment Therapy 5 & 6) Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book 7 & 8) Anna Beth Chao, Ben Corda 9-11) Adrienne Breaux



Now I want to know the rest of your house crushes!! You should make it a little mini series….like once a week or something post one. I can’t wait till nap time so I can look at all these houses, they are gorgeous!


These are beautiful. We just moved into a compact, 1970s contemporary and while we have a general idea of where we’re going with it (once our main bath is no longer the dark pit of despair), the places you posted have lots of fun ideas. Thanks!


Dana, I saw this gorgeous home the other day and thought of you, she has cushions that remind me of your bedroom desk chair cushion!


Apparently they are working on getting more of a home tour!


I saw that home and loved it too! Thanks for sharing. I hope the full tour posts soon!


I Love all of these houses! Thank you for posting such amazing inspiration for me!


Your #1 house is just down the road from ours!! Carla has an amazing eye for design… Thanks in no small part to the genes passed down from her famous sculptor grandfather. We bought a house in the Brentwood neighborhood about two years ago and we’ve seen amazing mid-century transformations such as Carla’s since. We’re still mid-remodel, but hoping ours comes together as polished as any of the five homes above.

I’m so so glad to see this post today Dana. So refreshing. I loved all of them and each for their own reasons. I’m totally drawn to homes that although magazine worthy, are also completely lived in and truly enjoyed by the families that live in them . Thank you so much for sharing. I’m off to check them out in a bit more detail!


Clicking through my reader, just before this I’d scrolled through a home that showcased an overflowing stack of books next to a bed. Not an artful stack, just a mess, and I thought how refreshing it was to see that too, was “magazine” worthy. Especially as I keep putting off taking new tour pictures because I can’t get my house tidy enough.


Oh, I’m so jealous Carla is your neighbor and that you live in the Brentwood area!


i’m really liking the look of bringing the outdoors in & wish this were more possible where i live. it just isn’t though! as my style has been refined more over the last few years, i find that i am appreciating more “lived in” spaces as well. i don’t want things to be too perfect or matchy – matchy. when my husband stated the other day, “it’s not ok anymore to buy furniture sets,” i was so proud!


I like everything except the outdoor fireplace in the last picture. We have a neighbor that uses one of those on warm nights in summer, and the smoke gets into my house. You can do what you like in most things but do not invade the air quality of my home, PLEASE.


So far this is one of my favorites for your five things series! The first home (Sam and Anne) I’d already pinned, now I love all the others too.

I totally agree that a beautiful home has to look lived-in for it to be inspiration for me. Otherwise it’s the equivalent of a Vogue spread– gorgeous but not for real life.


Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I just recently got my newest issue of Elle Decor in the mail and immediately began asking myself why I even bother with it. It’s all lovely but really not practical unless my sole purpose in life was to create show homes where the residents lived in secret, underground lairs that they could mess up and leave a book on the bathroom floor or (gasp) opened mail on the kitchen counter.


I really enjoyed this post. Thank you! Your style is inspiring. :)


I have found so many inspiring homes from the site The Selby ( http://theselby.com )
In case you’re not already a follower he profiles the homes of both well known and obscure creative types of all sorts all over the world -from Abigail Ahern, Jaques Grange, and Kate and Andy Spade to people I’ve never heard of. All the spaces are beautifully photographed, with an emphasis on the objects found in the house so that even if the home is not to my taste it always gets me thinking. Also none of the homes are “styled” for the shoot -they are as people live in them- which is so much more interesting to me.


I love checking out the dailydecor.com for some absolutely beautiful pictures!



I love seeing beautiful lived in homes. Thanks for the great inspiration.


Whoa! What a surprise as I scrolled through your post just now! The second home you featured is my condo! I’m so glad it’s inspired you. Sadly, we did finally grow out of it. Or at least grow out of the no-parking and no-outdoor space part of life there. We’re in the middle of doing a full-house renovation now so it ain’t pretty, but love having a new house to start playing around with. I do have a blog with more pictures of my condo as it evolved if you’d like to check it out, plus posts about this new remodel. http://wearethebrewers.blogspot.com/p/our-home.html

Anyway, I love reading your blog and was so flattered to see my pics on there! Thanks again!


So beautiful! Love the bedroom with the big windows and dark grey walls.


Thank you for letting me {and everyone else!} peek into your home, Kylie! It’s such an inspiration to me. I’m off to check out more pics of your old and new places!!


Oh, Caitlin, this is great! I think I have heard of The Selby before but for whatever reason haven’t checked it out yet. Love the real life non-styling!!


You can`t even imagine how much I like the combination of modern and classic styles of décor. I think it is that great because it combines coziness and style at the same time. This year we are going to create such a thing too so I`m in a search of some fresh ideas.