With a little help from some style-savvy pals and plenty of input from her husband, Lake Highlands mom Sarah Steele created a classic yet family-friendly interior for her custom-built home. By marrying subtle hues and clean-lined furniture with vintage accents, Sarah turned the 3,800-square-foot structure into a haven for the couple’s two young daughters and their 11-year-old retriever mix named Harrod.
“I wanted something that looked old but was new, and I also really like light, bright, airy interiors,” says Sarah, a banking executive. “But I also chose things like washable bedding, and I treated all of the upholstered fabric so that I didn’t have to worry about sticky fingers and prints.”
Several years ago, Sarah and Josh, who telecommutes for a technology firm and frequently travels during the week, purchased a lot a mile from their house at the time and set about envisioning an idyllic place for their growing family. They built the house three years ago. Then last summer, they purchased half of the lot next door and built a pool with a cabana on that piece of the property. At the request of Ashlyn, age 5, and Blythe, who turns 2 in August, the Steeles are trying their hands at growing herbs, tomatoes and strawberries. “My sisters and I had a strawberry patch while growing up, and Ashlyn wanted that,” Sarah explains. “As soon as the tiniest berry turns a little bit red, she’s eating it.”
When the girls finish swimming, gardening or just running around, they head upstairs to their wing. Ashlyn’s bedroom – connected to her sister’s via a Jack-and-Jill bathroom – explodes with vibrant colors. Sarah’s best friend, Sam Sano, who owns SWOON, the studio design studio in Dallas, helped her choose an array of fabrics for the bedding. Sano then painted the tree mural on the wall; Sarah, Josh and Ashlyn made the birdhouses that adorn it.
Blythe’s room, meanwhile, has a modern vibe with framed artwork, bright bedding and hot-pink striped draperies. Sarah had designer Tracy Martin Taylor of Eleven 11 Design select the window treatments throughout the house. She and her husband created the pompom “mobile” that hangs above Blythe’s crib.
The nearby playroom is a marvel of organization with a wall of built-in cabinets and bookshelves. Another bookshelf holds bins for toys, dress-up clothes, art supplies and more. A couch along with a table-and-chair set for the girls see plenty of use.
The epicenter of the first floor is the kitchen, which boasts Carrera marble countertops, oak floors and dark-stained cabinetry. “I was a little worried about using marble on countertops, but so far it’s aged nicely,” she says. “There’s a little bit of wear and tear that shows but no big gouges or anything too obvious.”
Her favorite element in the kitchen? While Sarah adores the window above the sink, she’s even more enamored of her pantry. “In my old house the shelves were very deep and I lost everything,” she says. “This is a walk-in pantry with lots of narrow shelving. I can eyeball stuff and know what I have.”
The kitchen opens to the family room, with its expanse of “paw-scraped” oak floors. The living room’s large white mantel has a soapstone surround. The walls are an icy shade of grey-blue. The master bedroom ups the drama in terms of palette. “It has all of the colors I love: lots of blues, turquoise, pinks, greens and golds,” she says. “My husband picked the deeper blue walls, and I love it.” She kept the bedding simple white with embroidery; an abundance of pillows in a mix of florals and geometrics lend extra interest. “I’d like to say I can hide in my bedroom, but my husband and I joke that wherever we go in the house, the girls will find you.”