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Interiors

An Airy Virginia Sanctuary for All Sorts of Wildlife

by Annie Werbler

Five years ago, Chelsea and Matt Bieber welcomed three kids into the world within 16 months — boy-girl twins Colin and Shire, and a sweet surprise baby boy right behind them. When they moved into this 1,800-square-foot split-level home 25 miles outside Washington, DC in Herndon, VA, little Mason still hadn’t yet hatched. Chelsea, who co-owns a furniture refinishing and design business called StyleMutt Home, has spent the years since experimenting with decoration that suits her childrens’ untamed energy, as well as the parents’ more sophisticated tastes.

Developing their own aesthetic took some time. After living in the house and realizing its potential, Chelsea set out to create a peaceful place in which she and her husband could relax, but one that would also be fun and functional for their brood. She believes parents owe it to themselves to create adult homes that aren’t totally focused on raising offspring. “Kids can learn to respect furniture, spaces, and pieces,” she says. This family has struck a compromise between the two approaches. For example, the patina of a large wooden coffee table becomes more interesting as it gets dinged up, and the dining room’s pipe shelves add an industrial statement to the main floor while providing easy access to craft and activity supplies. A creek on one side of the property encourages wildlife to come through the wooded backyard, and on a nice morning, Chelsea will open the sliding glass door to listen to the birds’ symphony. Bouncing off the vaulted ceilings, their sounds echo through the home as if in a bird sanctuary. This unexpected feature is also one of the most beloved, as is the ability for Chelsea to watch her own wild ones on various floors, the layout of which allows everyone to spread their wings, but not too far. —Annie

Photography by Chelsea Bieber

 

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The home's multipurpose basement accommodates overnight guests, functions as a playroom for the kids, and as an office for Chelsea. She painted and added corner brackets to the file cabinet for a campaign chest look.
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Detail of the lower shelves, which hold DVDs and books for the children's easy access.
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Chelsea built a frame for the mirror above the sectional using paint sticks stained in various tones for a salvaged look. It also hides the sealed-off pipe opening from the wood burning stove that heated the house decades ago.
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One of the perks of a partial split-level home is that the basement is only partially underground, so it still gets lots of sunlight. The "X" leg coffee table is a reworked army cot found on Craigslist.
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The front door opens directly into the living room. The homeowners worried about small children falling through the arched wall opening into the basement, so they sealed it with chicken wire and added a homemade coat rack, a basket for shoes, and a vintage red tool box as a bench in order to create a functional foyer.
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After some trial and error, Chelsea discovered her preference is a modern but eclectic mix of styles. She describes previous experiments with more frilly shabby chic looks as a "personal blunder in my home decorating files." The addition of this graphic rug made clear the homeowners' vision for the home and allowed them to form a simple formula they used for much of the home - white walls + warm wood + pops of black.
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Chelsea sits by these large living room windows all winter long cuddling with her kids, reading, or working on her blog. The side table is part of a family heirloom bedroom set, but fits better here. "It's fun to shop your own home and figure out how to use things you have in different ways, rather than buying new."
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The wooden baker's rack is always changing, depending on the holiday. Or, if someone has a birthday, it's where cards get displayed.
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The living and dining room open onto one another, and Chelsea chose thinner, lighter pieces to maintain the airy vibe. The petite cognac leather chairs are a flip by Cate, Chelsea's sister-in-law, and the dresser was her own makeover project.
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The view toward the dining area while lounging in the living room. The industrial shelves add an architectural feel, and double as the home's command center. Chelsea keeps a wall calendar there as well as crafty activities for the little ones.
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Unlike some more formal dining rooms, this space is used daily as the family makes a point of catching up over dinner each night.
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A neighbor's tree stump used as a stool allows the kids to sit and draw, taking inspiration from the Q-tip dinosaur skeleton against the wall.
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The metal cafe chairs add an interesting sheen to the room and are easy to wipe clean after meal time.
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Detail of handmade wall decorations.
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Looking toward the dining room from the kitchen, where the parents leave positive messages for their children to absorb.
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The home's kitchen follows the same formula as the rest of the home with its white painted surfaces, warm and organic soft furnishings, and black accents.
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The bedroom is more colorful than the home's public spaces with its collected, bohemian style.
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A stenciled accent wall and floating bedside tables provide contemporary context for the carved wooden bed.
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The bed is an antique heirloom spanning several generations of Chelsea's family. Her great-great grandmother and great-uncle were both born in it!
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The leaning ladder shelves were customized with wooden shelf overlays for a two-tone look.
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A restful nook features a found chair from an auto body shop and repainted cabinet that was a gift from a friend, as well as a mirror that came from Matt's grandparents' house. It had been a grand statement in their foyer and the family loves working it into their own decor.
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Five-year-old daughter Shire's room.
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Shire displays some of her favorite drawings on the shelf above her bed.
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Colin and Mason, five and four years old, respectively, share this large bedroom.
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The boys' room features wooden twin beds that can eventually be bunked.
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"My favorite part of our home is... the play!" - Chelsea Bieber
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Matt and Chelsea Bieber, with their children Shire, Mason, and Colin.
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The home's split-level floorplan.

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Comments

  • What a stunning abode! Really cheeky question but if you don’t mind me asking where did you find your horizontal stripe voile/curtains in your living room they are exactly what I’ve been looking for. Many thanks :)

  • oh what a lovely family home, it’s beautiful but at the same time comfy and somewhere where you could relax too.

    • Hi Donna, the brown leather chairs were actually my own sister-in-law/business partner’s flip. They had a metal swivel base on them when she found them on Craigslist, and she replaced those with the tapered legs.

  • Absolutely love this space! The wall stencil in the master bedroom is perfection. I also really like your philosophy that kids can learn to co-exist with adult decor. My husband and I don’t have children yet, but we are interested in design and have put a lot of thought into fixing up and decorating our home. Occasionally a well-meaning relative has remarked that we can have this or that thing “because you don’t have kids,” as if it would have to hit the curb the second a little one entered the picture. I like your approach much better! Thank you for sharing.

  • I love the rug in the living room! Would you share where it is from?
    Also how do you clean it other than vacuuming ?

    • Hi Lois, thank you! You know, I found that rug on sale at Ross and didn’t yet know that jute rugs could be hard to clean! I just vacuum but whenever I do, I do one side, pull it out, get the floor underneath, then flip the rug over and do the other side. Since there’s no direct access to the outside from that room, it doesn’t get a lot of dirt – mostly just loose crumbs from when we bring snacks down.:)

  • Lovely home! Would you mind sharing where the brass hanging lamp above the kitchen sink can be found? Thanks!

  • Really like how you have a “theme” of color throughout your home. Also love your black pipe bookshelf- can you do a DIY tutorial for us?

  • Interesting. I would say that the design formula is white walls+warm wood+pops of black+living green plants. Or did the writer no notice the plants in almost every room? The whole place looks very real, like a home where real people live, and live happily.