Design Story: A New Home For A Growing Family

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on March 8, 2018

Moving into a new home can be an exciting time for a family. For Madeline and Brendan, though, the blank slate of a brand-new apartment building was overwhelming. They had a baby on the way and had to move quickly, but starting fresh proved challenging. The couple’s Brooklyn apartment was small, but needed to function as a space for their new baby without sacrificing their personal style.

Starting Out

As Madeline and Brendan prepared to move from Manhattan to their new Williamsburg digs, they got rid of most of their furniture, which, according to Madeline, “just seemed to accumulate over the years from living together with roommates”. A new apartment and a new baby required more purposeful design. For Madeline, a busy special education teacher, Pinterest was a little too broad. She liked the ideas she found there, but “it didn’t help [her] work within [her] actual space”, and she had trouble finding the pieces that felt like her pinned spaces. That’s when she turned to our design experts for help.

Madeline definitely began her Havenly project with ideas: she loved the bright light in her new apartment, and envisioned the space as “bright yet calming”. She needed it to work well with a baby (storage!) but still feel welcoming for the adult friends and family. Madeline knew she didn’t love bright colors, but needed help choosing pieces that went together without feeling “washed out or bland.” On top of that, the NYC couple knew that anything they chose would need to be versatile enough to work in future apartments.

When Madeline started collaborating with designer Stafford Bensen (and later on, Michelle Riley), she liked the designer’s blend of experience and East Coast style. Madeline exchanged Pinterest ideas with her designers, and liked that they were so open to her input– Madeline actually sent Stafford the West Elm modular storage system that she later chose for her living room! After her initial concepts for each room (living, master bedroom, and nursery) were delivered, Madeline was able to work with her designers piece-by-piece to combine them into something she truly loved.


Designing a Home

In the living room, Stafford nailed Madeline’s “neutral but cozy” style. Madeline loved the pieces she chose, but ultimately decided to keep her own sectional sofa. Brandon loved how comfortable it was, and because the couple was purchasing so many big-ticket items, it seemed like a good place to be more conservative with their budget. Stafford was able to design around the sofa, creating a space that maximizes square footage and storage without sacrificing Madeline’s relaxed, dreamy style. After concepts were delivered, Madeline asked for accent pieces (dining chairs and an arm chair) with a more modern feel, and suggested more storage. In the final designs, Stafford was able to find a middle ground between the traditional neutrals and more urban, industrial pieces that Madeline felt drawn to.

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With a solid understanding of Madeline’s taste, Stafford tackled the master bedroom. Her concepts took an even lighter color direction than the living room, which Madeline agreed with. The lighter feel also translated through slightly more “classic” pieces. Madeline fell in love with the bed in the final designs, and really enjoyed the finished look that Stafford’s accessory choices brought to the space.

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The final room that received the Havenly touch was the couple’s nursery! Designer Michelle was able to use Stafford’s rooms as style direction for a “light, airy, and classic” nursery. The initial concepts stuck to a neutral color palette, and Madeline opted to stay light and bright with a white crib for the final design. Madeline and Michelle also carefully thought out their storage options– the final design incorporates drawers, shelves, and baskets, none of which had to be drilled into the rental’s walls! Madeline especially loves the animal prints, which became the whimsical centerpiece of the space.

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After all of the hard work put into this lovely apartment, the new family is finally enjoying their finished space. Madeline loves having her space feel “photo ready”, and she’s “proud to have people over to visit, knowing that we’re happy with these spaces and that they really speak to who we are as a family–relaxed, laid-back and comfortable!” We couldn’t write a better ending ourselves!



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