Color ideas from a playful house

Great decorating ideas: See how a bungalow full of boys manages to be a sanctuary for grown-ups, too

Play house kitchen

John Granen

Eclectic home decorating: Color ideas and more

How to make eclectic style work

Kim Clements and Joe Schneider’s living room finds harmony by combining a mishmash of patterns, offbeat accessories, and colors galore. The pair, who met in architecture school, took advantage of every inch of real estate by reimagining how rooms could be used.

The result? A small home that feels spacious, rooms that welcome all ages, and a color palette inspired by childhood.

Design Joe Schneider and Kim Clements, J.A.S. Design-Build, Seattle ( or 206/547-6242)

Play house schneider family

John Granen

Stylish, with children

Three young boys plus a 2,000-square-foot bungalow might sound like it equals a design challenge, but for this Seattle family, it adds up to a home that’s stylish, livable, and friendly to kids and adults alike.

“We didn’t have any kids when we first bought here,” says Joe Schneider of the Arts and Crafts home he and his wife, Kim Clements, began renovating about eight years ago.

To accomodate their growing family, they turned a guest room into a combination sleeping alcove, library nook, and mudroom, and integrated a play corner into the dining room.

Play house dining salvaged materials

John Granen

Go for salvaged materials

“Salvaged materials can add great depth to a room,” Schneider says. Here, a chalkboard from an old school lends personality to the dining room. “It’s usually covered with kids’ drawings,” says Clements.

The dining room table is made with wood recycled from a bowling alley. Schneider and Clements like to scour industrial-equipment distributors, eBay, and Seattle salvage yards for treasures.

Play house kitchen

John Granen

Keep it out in the open

Open shelves feel hospitable―guests can just grab wineglasses off the shelf―and force you to edit.

“Our rule of thumb?” says Schneider. “If you use it more than once a week, have it out. If you use it a few times a month, stick it in a cabinet. Once or twice a year? It belongs in the basement.”

Play house adult friendly

John Granen

Pick adult-friendly kid stuff

Kid-compatible style doesn’t have to mean beanbags and Legos. The boys store puzzles and games in this sophisticated black table.

The polka-dot lampshade by Seattle artist Jil Smith ( and a painting Clements picked up at a yard sale for $10 are playful but not cloyingly childish.

Play house color

John Granen

Muster your color courage

Don’t try to use every color  “Pick a painting you like, and make that palette your palette,” Clements advises. Carry your colors with you (Clements keeps her paint chips in a Moleskine notebook) so that you can take advantage of unexpected finds.

Choose one dynamic base color  “Look for a color that functions in different ways under different light, and use it liberally,” Clements says. Her blue-green-gray wall color (Russian Olive by C2) is used throughout the house but looks distinct in every room.

Use bold color in small splashes  “I love Pratt & Lambert Castilian Gold,” Clements says. “But it would be too much to use everywhere. I used it on the kitchen island. It’s like the saffron in a rice dish―it adds a little spice.” She also likes a little red in every room.

Play house kitchen

John Granen

Rethink your space

Clements created a 4- by 12-foot library just off the living room, proving that a well-designed space doesn’t have to be large to be effective.

“We hang out in here quite a bit,” she says. “And this is also a place where I like to come for the quiet. Nobody finds me on the first holler, although they might find me on the third or fourth.”

Play house kitchen

John Granen

Designated clutter zone

Pegs, buckets, and colored bins (from $11; keep the family sane; the shelves are salvaged bleachers. Having this space just off the kitchen helps prevent stuff from piling up on the dining table.

“Every three weeks, it looks like a bomb went off in here, but once everybody’s on board with the bin and tray system, it works great,” Schneider says.

Kid storage tip: In the battle between closet and floor, floor usually wins. Go for hooks―they’re just too easy not to use.

Play house bath color

John Granen

Find ideas everywhere

The whole family shares this bath, designed with an easy-to-reach sink (that lovely green is Primavera by C2). Clements added splashes of color inspired by children’s books and films to the white room.

“The orange towels are from the woman in the Wallace and Gromit movies who looks like a carrot,” she confides. “The point is to draw inspiration from whatever, and loosen up about it.”

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