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Serenity Now

Most people long for a sense of calm in their lives—at least most folks with children. While controling the calm-factor at work usually resides in the “out of my hands” list, a little zen in the living space is a different story. But upon entering Wendy and Michael Konradi’s University Park home, an embracing sense of serenity sets in—a coup d'état for a couple with two little ones (Camden, 5, and Carrigan, 2).  How did they manage after just one year in their chic abode?

Wendy, a Senior Designer at Emily Summers Design Associates, doesn’t interpret tranquility as floor-to-ceiling boring beige. Instead, the intrepid design artist mixes and matches neutrals, playing with dark and light to create “a fresh, crisp contrast” throughout the home, almost a chiaroscuro effect, all the while keeping the sense of calm intact. Clean white and putty (accented by blues and greens, strategically placed on everything from pillows, to lamps and chair seats). Earthy wooden accents, such as her ebony stained hardwood floors, tables and accessories, adorn rooms throughout the home.

If that picture seems too perfect to be true, we assure you it’s not. The clean, crisp white walls and white furniture (the couch included—though we’ll call it an off white) seem a fete of accomplishment with two “very active, and very friendly” toddlers running about the house waving with fistfuls of juice. About the couch—we looked closely—it’s in good condition and still stain-free. But how? The designing mom shares her secret with a knowing grin—FiberCare Inc, a seal that resists staining, allows juice to roll right off fabric.

Interestingly, even with the latest and greatest designs at her fingertips, Wendy is drawn to “stuff with age and character,” says the mom of two. And looking about the home, her admission is validated: A passed-down Wurlitzer piano from Wendy’s grandmother sits near the family room; an old wooden bricklayer’s table is employed as a coffee table in the family room (with bumpers on all edges to safeguard kids from jagged edges); and a mid-century modern dining room set enhances the mood of the room with its polished warmth. Spread throughout the home, the pieces add culture, character and warmth. The 1940s home itself also adds to “that character thing,” the native Texan explains. It, too, has a modern edge to it, accomplished through additions made over the years by previous homeowners.

But it’s not only character-filled objects that give the home the Konradi touch; Wendy also provided the home her own brand of modish flair with Vitra Algue (think sleek, plastic algae) hanging on her dining room wall, a chalkboard wall in their laundry room hallway (think scheduling zen,) and a black and white photograph by Allison V. Smith (a personal friend of the Konradi’s) of a simple school room that hangs on the living room wall (above the infamous much-too-clean off-white couch). Wendy’s way of mixing old with new, and light with dark, creates an overall warmth to the home this family of four shares. It’s a style that matches the family’s inviting and genuine personality to a tee.

But step into the family room and the darks and lights that define the rest of the home are reversed. Here we find earth tones, with a deep chocolate brown couch, and a speckled light khaki colored carpet. Looking around, the toys are sparse until Carrigan opens a door to their built-in cabinet to reveal a stash of toys … from which she plucks out a pint-sized toy cell phone and purse, which are stuck like glue to her the rest of the afternoon. The rest of the room is a tribute to the places and faces that have influenced the Konradis’ lives. The photos adorning the walls are from various trips they have taken over the years, and on the table sits Michael’s first-anniversary gift to Wendy—a Tomari Akio design book, a personal favorite that aptly fits the requisite first-anniversary “paper gift.”

The family’s home is a place of comfort and style, “where nothing is off limits” to the toddling toddlers and where they’re taught  “how to behave in their environment – it starts at home,” Wendy offers. Camden and Carrigan don’t seem to mind, as Camden asks, “Mommy, we’re never going to leave this house, right?”