More Is More: A Georgian-Style Family Home Come to Life

By Matilda Davies

Homeowners Bo and Jill share this 3,500-square-foot Georgian-style house with their two kids and pack of animals. But the home feels like more than just a place to raise a family and build a life—it feels a lot like a microcosm for play.

There’s a backyard tree fort, a spiraling staircase, a 10-foot wall dedicated to magic marker impulses, and a copper speaking tube to communicate between floors. Perhaps it’s at the azure-dunked powder room tiled in repeating Thomas Gainsborough prints that those who have crossed the threshold realize that the home they’ve entered is not just animate, it’s winking at them.

The home’s magnificent exterior cloaks an inner life that’s a spirited amalgam of colors and textures, old and new, profiles, layers, and weights. But the eclecticism of its interior doesn’t diminish the elegance, opulence, or interest imbued by its facade.

Bo and Jill have managed to make a home that’s both wild and stately. Geometric ceiling murals, azure walls, abstract oil paintings and portraits, antique collectibles, and a collection of old console TVs illustrate that perhaps this home’s greatest lesson is that more is sometimes more indeed.

Exterior The home's stately exterior is balanced by climbing ivy and wild landscaping

Entry The home opens on a spiral staircase dotted with family portraits

Blue Homeowner Jill painted the powder room a saturated azure blue, which pairs perfectly with an antique console TV

The Blue Boys Jill tiled the powder room walls in reproductions of Thomas Gainsborough's 1770 painting titled "The Blue Boy"

Living Notice the heights at which Bo and Jill have hung artwork—the corner cupboard does the work of drawing the eye across the paintings and then upward

Details Fun details like the starburst lamp and this pillow sporting a portrait of a grinning "cermet" (that's a Jenna Marbles joke, for us laymen) bring life to the home

Collections The corner cupboard is adorned with antique plates, vases, and pitchers

Drink A modest bar is kept on an Art Deco sideboard

Textures As a whole, the living room is a wonderful experiment in layers and textures

Living A second living area is marked with stacks of books and magazines of inspiration

Fireplace A wood-burning fireplace stands in one of the home's two living rooms, bannered by an abstract oil painting whose colors echo the décor below

Corners Bo and Jill have made use of every nook and cranny in the home

Cabinets As part of the restoration, the homeowners had the kitchen cabinets rebuilt remarkably similar to the home's originals

Light A sun-filled kitchen is most often peaceful kitchen

Passage A swinging door separates the kitchen from living area

Cooktop The gas range is flanked by durable beadboard and butcher-counter prep tops

Details Even the closets are playfully detailed, like this one in hexagonal honeycomb wallpaper in steel blue and gold

Mural Upstairs, a wall of 10 feet is open to anyone with a marker and an idea

Ceiling Jill, a muralist, painted the kids' bathroom ceiling in a burst of geometric shapes

Color The jungle-like tangle sings against an otherwise white bathroom

Patio The back patio is walled in and expanded by a mirrored garage door

Fort The backyard is home to this open-air tree fort

Bridge The tree-fort is open to this swinging bridge begging for imagination

A brief history of the home

As told by Bo and Jill

The house was built in 1923 using plans from England. The style is Georgian. We bought it in 1997 and spent about two years fixing it up. Some of the work we did ourselves, some was done by Cornerstone Restoration.

We had to update the plumbing and electrical entirely, we took out the ‘50s-era kitchen cabinets and built new ones (which the previous owner said looked just like the original 1920s cabinets!), we expanded the garage and added studio space above, and we finished the (pretty spacious) attic to make an office / screening room / editing suite where Bo keeps his records.

Why did you choose this home?

The floating staircase in the front hall, the built-in cabinets and shelves, the yard and garden. It was bigger than any “starter home” we looked at, so we sort of skipped that step and went straight to the “family home” even before we had a family!

Tell us about your decorating style.

We have an unusual mix of patterns and colors, junk and vintage, and lots of art created by people we know. Plus many very fine hand-me-downs!

Where do you find inspiration for your home?

Most of our style inspiration comes straight from our parents’ homes. Also travels and World of Interiors magazine.

Tell us about a favorite memory in this home.

We brought both our kids home to this house from the hospital. Two days after our son arrived home, the entire neighborhood came caroling for Christmas. That was magical.

What do you love most about this home?

The house was built to accommodate a “staff,” which means there’s a back staircase and a roomy attic, but there’s also a copper speaking tube that runs in the wall from the kitchen to the upstairs and a floor buzzer in the former dining room (right about where the head of the table would sit) that buzzes in the kitchen. We still use the speaking tube!

Do you have a favorite piece of furniture in the home?

Bo likes to collect old console TVs. One of them has a record player with a “Cobra Head” needle and a circular TV tube!

A favorite DIY project you’ve taken on?

Jill painted and redecorated the downstairs powder room off the main hall, painting the walls a rich blue, covering the walls with old Blue Boy paint-by-numbers, and hanging a retro satellite chandelier in the middle. Super cool.

Jill also painted a mural on the ceiling in the kids’ bathroom, which is a colorful explosion overhead in an otherwise white room.

Any advice for other homeowners?

We tried to do a bunch of the restoration work ourselves, but learned along the way that some jobs are better (and less expensive) done by the pros. Our reluctant motto was If you get the best, you only cry once, which means that the best is more expensive but will cause fewer headaches (and tears) later on…usually.


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