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A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis

by Kate Oliver

When San Francisco transplants Alan and Deborah Leerkamp decided to lay down roots in the Midwest with young daughter Samuelle, they knew they’d be hard-pressed to find an open-concept home in a neighborhood where the vast majority of homes built in the 20s and 30s have remained untouched. Instead, they focused their efforts on finding a house in the best location: a place close to school and work with a strong sense of community, where they could walk or bike just about anywhere they needed to go.

Just a few miles north of a vibrant, rapidly shifting downtown Indianapolis, IN lies Broad Ripple Village, a walkable community long known for its tree-lined streets and traditional homes with coffee, groceries, breweries, and a great spot to brunch right around the corner. After finding a 1920s Craftsman in the heart of the neighborhood, Deborah, an art director and designer, began planning and sketching an entirely new layout that worked for their family and lifestyle — although you’d never guess such a colorful, open space was behind the front door of the quaint bungalow.

With the help of a local architect, Deborah’s vision for a welcoming, modern home came to life. By opening up the attic, exposing beams, and tearing out walls, she created a unified space that invited conversation and quality time for the close-knit family of three; a lively home where Samuelle would love growing up. The couple added unexpected, playful elements they dreamed of having in their own childhoods: a secret treehouse loft accessed by a rope ladder and a big yellow tube slide from the main level to the basement playroom for Samuelle and her friends (and sometimes adults, too!). The main living quarters consist of the open-concept great room, two bedrooms, bathrooms, and an office that feels proportionate to their family on a daily basis, but their nest can expand when the family needs a little extra space. A creative room with soaring ceilings connects the main house to a private guest loft for visiting family and friends.

The Leerkamps have created a home that is honest, approachable, and so uniquely them — a home that not only serves their needs, but one that brings them true joy. Their home is a reflection of who they are: welcoming, genuine, and warm people who seek a life well-lived. It serves as a reminder to break the rules sometimes, to create homes that truly represent who we are and make us smile when we open the door after a long day. —Kate

Photography by Kate Oliver

A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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The Leerkamp family spends the majority of their time in this colorful and unified living, dining, and kitchen space. The velvet sofas were inherited from Alan’s grandmother, and the little gnome adds a touch of whimsy. A glimpse of the treehouse loft can be seen above, where a faux pup stands guard.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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The house’s appearance isn’t much different than the other traditional Craftsman bungalows that line the street. The couple instead focused their energies on making the home’s interior everything that their family needed and wanted to feel at home. “Living closer to family and having the opportunity to make a house our very own dream home has felt like a blessing to us.”
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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An otherwise all-white space is infused with pops of bright, cheerful color. The cabinetry is from IKEA and the custom countertops are made of lathe, salvaged from the walls the family tore down to open the space. The light fixture suspended over the dining table holds sweet handwritten notes to one another and from family and friends. Skylights were added to bring in light year-round, even during the often harsh Indiana winters.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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Colorful, playful vibes in every corner.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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The island, a gathering place for the family of three and their guests, creates division between the kitchen and living spaces.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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The chandelier over the dining table is filled with love notes to one another and from family and friends.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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Gorgeous velvet drapes are left open during the day to let in the sunlight.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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The white walls, light floors, and exposed whitewashed beams are the perfect backdrop to infuse the family’s love of color-blocking: punchy pinks, yellows, greens, and turquoise are used throughout the space, speaking to the family’s fun-loving and creative personalities.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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Alan, Deborah, and Samuelle having breakfast on a warm summer morning in their dream home.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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The cozy family of three having breakfast in their Indianapolis, IN home.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
11/18
A long, skylight-lined hallway leads from the main living space to the home’s two bedrooms and the couple’s shared office. Here, a glimpse of the trio’s sun-filled creative room can be seen at the end of the hall. Alan and Deborah’s office is on the right, with another set of doors that lead directly into the creative space.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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Windows flank both sides of the creative room, where the family crafts, paints, and hangs out. The room truly brings the outdoors in, with doors leading to separate greenery-filled patio spaces on each side of the house. If you look closely, you can see the opening to the yellow tube slide in the hallway, ready to whisk Samuelle and friends down to the basement playroom!
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
13/18
More vibrant color on the mantel.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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A view of the living space from the home’s central hallway. The perpendicular line of hardwood on the floor outlines where walls once stood for the original 1920s kitchen. Yellow, green, and turquoise coexist happily, and graphic pillows on the vintage sofa add an extra-fun touch. The apple-picking ladder was found at a local antique store.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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The couple’s spacious master suite includes a waterfall shower, an extra-deep tub, double sinks, a massive walk-in closet, and patio access. Deborah added barn doors to divide each section of the master, but the doors are usually left wide open, allowing flow between the three otherwise distinct spaces. A window above the tub leads not to the outside, but the house’s main hallway, which is always light and bright thanks to strategically placed skylights. Watercolor paintings in similar hues create unity between the bathroom and bedroom.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
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Custom barn doors in the master suite.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis | Design*Sponge
17/18
A cozy corner of Samuelle’s treehouse space, which is accessed through her bedroom below via a rope ladder in her reading nook. The balcony looks out over the main living area. Sam’s camp- and cabin-themed treehouse is filled with a daybed, desk, stocked bookshelves, and plenty of imaginative toys and nooks for creative play.
A Vibrant, Playful Home for a Creative Family in Indianapolis
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“What I love most about my home is how open and bright it is. It is our happy place!”

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Comments

    • The amazing local architects we used are: HAUS, Chris Short and Derek mills. Derek Mills crafted our beloved lath counter tops with our repurposed lath (from the walls and ceilings we knocked down.)

  • What a wonderful open and bright living space. The concept of opening up the attic space really opens it up and I love the beams as an architectural element. All the sweet touches make this home feel so well lived and loved.

  • This is a beautiful home. The colour choices are superb; happy colours with warmth and substance and yet they are placed with a light hand against the white to provide a perfect balance. I’m saving images as it’s a great model of balance and comfort.

  • Deborah, which IKEA cabinets did you use (and drawer pulls too!)? We’re remodeling our kitchen soon and I love the look of yours!

    • So, 6 months after we purchased these, we received notice from iKEA that they were discontinuing these very ones… Which was a bit upsetting for upkeep purposes etc… but they still have very similar looks to choose from! Good luck with the remodel!! We are loving our kitchen every day :)

  • Hey Deborah, I live in Zionsville,IN I love love love the way you have made your home… Can we interact and I would love to get some ideas from you for my home. Its just under a year since we bought this house and I am struggling to put my ideas into materialization… Let me know if you would like to spare some time…

    • Hey Akshaya! Thanks for the love and appreciation of our space! I wish I could say I had extra time to brainstorm on your project right now but I don’t – having started a brand new project of my own aside from the daily business to run and family life… Breath through it one step at a time! You can do it :) Good luck!!

      • Magda

        This wonderful house is so inviting, with its space and open light ! It gives you so many opportunities as : love, happines and joy ! I am so lucky because this is the house of my family, I am Deborah’s mother. Thank you for giving me the luck to stay there whenever I come and visit you !
        Congatulation lovely daughter !

  • The secret treehouse! The slide! Those are so amazing. Your daughter is incredibly lucky to be living in every kid’s dream house!

    Was it difficult to have the slide installed?

  • The chandelier is one of our favorite parts of the common space…
    Its an Ingo Maurer design. It was featured at IMA (Indianapolis Museum of Art) earlier this year… It comes with pre-printed quotes and designs to start you off as well as blank sheets that you can replace those initial ones with in order to make it your own… You can hang personal items as well. Change it with the seasons, add some holiday cheer… The chandelier truly lives on with you and your family.

    • The are actually super comfortable. We eat many family meals at our dining table and the word uncomfortable never came to mind, at all :) And they are kids, pets and spill proof ;)
      I believe I bought them on etsy.com at the time, but you might also be able to find them on wayfair…

  • Obsessed with the little treehouse nook! How cute. My kids would love something like that. We’re still a few years out from our dream home but this is giving me so much inspo! Love.

  • How did you open it up so much + retain the heat in the winter? I love seeing renovations like this with spaces opened up so much — but I rarely see them done in a climate so far north.

    I’m even farther north than you, and would appreciate seeing what types of insulation and technology were used!

    • Had one of the coldest winters around two years ago… and it was not any cooler in the home then prior to the remodel, at the contrary! Updated insulation, including spray foam in the attic tree house help a lot :) Though you need to know the home was barely insulated at all we discovered when opening walls and ceiling… We only found news paper in the walls in some places!! So, there is that.

      • That is wonderful to know! Sorry about the belated reply.

        (As I type from snowy Sault Ste. Marie!) It’s great to hear about using spray foam in the attic as a solution – it seems so obvious now and I’m so used to it for basement headers, but haven’t thought much about attic usage of it.

    • Hello, I love this home, so fun and funky. Is there a list somewhere of the sources of the things in the home? I know often at the end of a post it’s listed where the items were purchased and I’m not seeing that. I’m interested in the colorful comic book-like canvases on the mantle and the wall. Thanks so much!

      • Thank you :) The pop art art work above the mantel is by Greg Gossel! I didn’t really put a list together as to where all things came from… A lot of items are repurposed like the table, or the couches are originals from grandma etc… other random item sources have been mentioned in comments above :)
        Thanks again!

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