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Interiorssneak peeks

A Home for Pattern and Play in Indianapolis, IN

by Lauren Chorpening

Sometimes it’s easy for me to see beautiful homes online and assume that those spaces belong to people without longing, grief or sadness. The photos are perfect and thus, their lives must be too. Objectively, I know that’s not true of my own life and other lives of the D*S team — that a pretty home doesn’t equal an easy life — but sometimes, it feels true, doesn’t it? If you were to just look at the photos of Natalie and Dan’s home, you might be tempted by the bright colors, fun patterns and lovely artwork to think that the last four years of their lives were fairly commonplace for an emergency room physician (Dan) and a social worker (Natalie) in middle America. But life is just settling down and getting “normal” for the first time as a family of five.

After getting married and living in a 2-bedroom apartment in Midtown Indianapolis, IN, Natalie and Dan started the international adoption process. They were matched with twin baby boys from a country in Central Africa and were told Theo and Elliot would be in their home within the year — but shortly after, adoptions from the boys’ birth country were put on hold indefinitely. The baby boys grew into toddlers and then kids without ever having met Natalie and Dan in person. During this time, Natalie and Dan were contacted to adopt a newborn domestically. “We brought Milo home in February 2015. We moved to our current home in November 2015. We were here a few months when we were told that at long last, Theo and Elliot were approved to come to the United States and into our home… three-and-a-half years after we started the process,” Natalie shares. “They landed in Chicago in March 2016. It was one of the best days ever. We grew from a family of two to a family of five in 13 months!”

When it was still just the two of them, they started looking for a house in the Midtown neighborhood of Indianapolis. The neighborhood had been changing drastically as rundown houses were being purchased and rehabilitated by development companies. A single-story house that the Dan and Natalie had driven by several times was being turned into a 2-story home with completely new curb appeal. When they toured it, the inside was just as much of an improvement. “We saw it twice — once while still very much in progress and once when complete. We put an offer in immediately and bought our house before Dan officially had a job. As spiritual people, we had a strong and hopefully-not-too-foolish belief that God would provide. He did,” Natalie says. “Many of the homes in our area are either fully renovated like ours or in need of a lot of repairs. Most of the fully renovated homes were well outside of what we could afford. Though as dreamers, we loved the idea of renovating a house with good bones on a great lot, we knew as new parents to three kids we wouldn’t have the time. We wanted something already set up well, so we could devote ourselves to helping our little men feel secure and comfortable.”

Natalie and Dan and their three sons have turned what Natalie describes as “a little bit cookie-cutter” into a home full of life and interest. Natalie has decorated their space with color in furniture, rugs, art and textiles. Their home boasts a mix of bold colors and patterns while maintaining a modern and clutter-free feel. “We have been striving to minimize excess since before Milo joined our family. All the items that kids require can get to be chaotic, so we’ve pared down our own things a lot,” Natalie says. “We are big believers that fewer things can create a happier life. We’ve seen it affect our moods and the moods of our kids, too. We wanted to create a bright, light, simple, comfortable, colorful space enjoyable for us as adults and for our kids… the kind of space that can become a spaceship with alligators and superheroes during the day and a cozy retreat for reading and catching up on our favorite TV shows at night.” It’s a playful and peaceful space perfect for this new family of five to grow into. –Lauren

Photography by Natalie

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The living room is spacious, cozy but also minimal. During the day Theo, Elliot and Milo can play and run around and at night, the family of five can cuddle together before bed.
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"Like most of our family photos, this one was taken with a self-timer. Theo, Elliot and Milo don’t hold still too long. They felt it was important to wear their Land of Nod sea creatures for the occasion," Natalie jokes.
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"After more than five years with a small Crate & Barrel couch, we got a sectional from IKEA. Our sons are so happy to have a 'big seat for everyone,' including Oscar (the dog). We’re getting feet for it from Pretty Pegs, but they haven’t come quite yet," Natalie says. "We used to have too many throw pillows, but now they all fit on the sectional. Oscar wouldn’t lay on it for the first day, and now he won’t get off."
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"We have two of these amazing teal benches. We bought them as a set from someone in our neighborhood resale group… She was asking for more than we wanted to pay, so we waited it out, and she eventually dropped her price. We bought them before we moved, and we didn’t even have a good idea of where we would put them. They fit in well with the rest of our decor downstairs and in our bedroom, though. This rug was in the basement for a short time… during a time the basement flooded a bit. The colors bled a little bit, and it became a little warped, but we accepted our mistake and kept it," Natalie explains. "We moved it up here for more color, and we haven’t regretted it one bit."
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Dan and Natalie's home is filled with artful touches everywhere. This piece by Jaime Rovenstine fits the playful yet sophisticated mood of the house.
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The front entry is sunny and welcoming with blue wallpaper, a yellow console and striped rug. "We let the boys roller skate in the house during the winter, so there are usually a pair of skates laying here," Natalie explains.
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"The planned layout for the house had a dining area and living area in the same shared space with a slightly more separate entertainment room. Expecting we’d always have a messy dining room table, we decided to use the separate room for dining and the big open room as a living area," Natalie shares. "The sliding doors didn’t excite us when we first moved in, but when warmer months hit, we really started to appreciate them. We do lots of meals on the deck outside, and the doors made it easy to drag Milo’s high chair out or come in and out with food."
A Home for Pattern and Play in Indianapolis, Indiana | Design*Sponge
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Natalie is a part-time social worker and works from home when she is not visiting clients. There isn't a designated room in the house for an office, but this secretary desk in the dining room allows her to get things done while keeping an eye on Milo and the older boys when they are home from school.
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"When we first saw the house, we really didn’t care for the light fixtures the builder had chosen. We asked if they would install others, and it became part of our contract that they would. We quickly chose and ordered some from West Elm. The cords for our kitchen bar lights are yellow, and we love them. We still talk about how much we disliked those original lights and how happy we are with the ones we chose," Natalie shares.
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"One of the most challenging aspects has been figuring out how to manage our coats, shoes, backpacks, and bags near the back door when we come in each time. It’s an ongoing process. We keep buying more bins and hooks for the small closet near there, and we’re figuring out how to most optimally utilize the bench by the back door," Natalie says.
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"We tried to find a creative use for this tall space above the staircase. Dan used a long pole to attach the metal triangle details. They catch the light in a beautiful way and light up this area late in the afternoon," Natalie says.
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Natalie and Dan have figured out the secret to a successful night's sleep: A king-sized duvet on a queen-sized bed.
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"The globe on our dresser was a wedding gift from Dan to me. He got a little plate engraved that says 'home is wherever I’m with you' a la the Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros song," Natalie shares. "The globe has become even more meaningful as our sons were born in another state and another country."
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Theo and Elliot's bedroom has been years in the making. The quilts were made by Natalie's mom with Natalie's selection of colors inspired by Wayne Thiebaud’s Apartment Hill. The boys have their own beds, but Natalie and Dan knew that they would be used to sleeping in the same bed in their foster home in Central Africa, so they designed the layout with the ability to push the beds together for the boy's comfort and feeling of security.
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The bathrooms were built with the contractor's choice of finishes. While Natalie and Dan aren't crazy about the black vanities, in each bathroom they've been able to inject their own style without needing to renovate something new. In this powder room, the mirror, patterned hand towel, artwork and decor help make it feel more like them.
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Milo's room has a quilt made by Natalie's mom as well. "The bed feels oversized with the other furniture pieces in his room, but it’s a good spot for cuddles. Or wrestling matches among all three boys at 7 am. That happens, too," Natalie jokes.
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The three boys are energetic and full of life. Dan and Natalie turned their basement into a sensory-friendly play room. "Our basement sometimes turns into a dodgeball ring and we sometimes inflate a bounce house there," Natalie says. "We wanted something on the walls that was bold but inexpensive. We converted the boys’ passport pictures to black and white and printed them as oversized engineering prints at Staples. The frames are from IKEA and completely plastic. No risk of broken glass! The boys were giddy when they saw their pictures so large."
A Home for Pattern and Play in Indianapolis, Indiana | Design*Sponge
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What I love most about my home are the...
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Dan and Natalie's home floor plan.

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Comments

  • This is so lovely! As a mom to four young boys, I find it is often a struggle to design something beautiful, practical, and youthful. Well done!

  • Thats a beautiful home and a lovely story. The clean serenity of their home reflects their sweet family. Heartening! (-:

    • Hi Catie! Thanks for your kind words. The lighter color is Benjamin Moore Silver Lake, and the darker color is Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray.

  • This took my breath away and left me feeling so happy!! Beautiful home. Beautiful family. Bravo!

  • I smiled when I read “As spiritual people, we had a strong and hopefully-not-too-foolish belief that God would provide”. Haha. He always does and he always will. What a blessing to have these three boys… and a beautiful home!
    Natalie, where did you get the gold triangles above the stair case?

  • Beautiful, not just for the aesthetics. God is so kind to give you three sweet gifts in your boys. Worth the wait, I’m sure.

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