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Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

This kitchen masters the balance between rustic and elegant design. Author: Tracey Ayton

House Tours

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Designer Sydney Carlaw plays with tension to make her neutral family retreat both interesting and relaxing.

Bottom line is often top of mind for Sydney Carlaw. Whether the designer is renovating for a homeowner, finishing a custom build for a contractor or decorating her own family home, she's got one eye on design and the other on dollars. It sounds calculated, but at the end of the day, Sydney's goal is to make an interior feel welcoming. Take her 4,200-square-foot house in Fort Langley, B.C., for instance - it exudes warmth. "My home is my refuge and a place where my family can relax," she says.

Creating a comfortable home for herself, her husband, Vance, and their two daughters required a careful balancing act: splurge-worthy pieces paired with inexpensive finds, rustic textures set against a polished neutral backdrop and a timeless aesthetic jazzed up with a few of the latest trends. "I'm always thinking about where I can create tension when I design," says Sydney.

Ultimately, it's the home's warm, soothing colour palette that brings cohesion to the multitude of juxtapositions. "A lot of people shy away from beige because they think it can be blah, but I love it," says Sydney. Far from boring, the neutral scheme plays host to a dynamic layering of textures and styles that serves this family's relaxed lifestyle. "I'm always looking for how I can bring meaning to the home -- on any budget."

Photo Gallery

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Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Entryway

The polished chrome table lamp and rough wooden side table make an unexpected pairing in the entryway, where an oversized wingback chair creates a welcoming and convenient perch.

By: Kathleen Dore Source: Tracey Ayton; styling by Darci Ilich Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Family room

“The family room is a retreat for my husband and me,” says Sydney. The TV is in a separate media room, so there are no distractions. “It’s an awesome place to sit and read a book, or enjoy a coffee and talk.”

By: Kathleen Dore Source: Tracey Ayton; styling by Darci Ilich Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Sleek seating

In the informal seating arrangement, a casual down-filled Restoration Hardware sofa lives happily next to a tailored slipper chair from a big box store, while a sleek coffee table sits atop a plush shag rug.

By: Kathleen Dore Source: Tracey Ayton; styling by Darci Ilich Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Open-space concept

The family room, with its warm beige walls and blonde-toned wood floors, best exemplifies her design sensibility. The space's soaring ceiling gives it the airy feel Sydney loves, but its dramatic height needed some grounding. "A huge chandelier brings the eye down, and the drapes close in the room, making it feel cozy," she says.

By: Kathleen Dore Source: Tracey Ayton; styling by Darci Ilich Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Kitchen island

The kitchen isn't large so Sydney opted for cream-coloured cabinets rather than pure white, which might have read as stark. She chose a more economical and practical quartz kitchen countertop for the busy family kitchen and a budget-friendly glass and stone mosaic backsplash. However, she didn't scrimp on the lighting. "You can create 'wow' in a room with lighting," she says. "It's like jewellery." Last but not least, the burlap-covered stools add the perfect dose of rusticity, tempering all the polished materials.

By: Kathleen Dore Source: Tracey Ayton; styling by Darci Ilich Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Kitchen desk

“Your kitchen is a gathering place for family and guests,” says Sydney. If there’s room, she recommends incorporating a desk area to store mail, car keys and even your purse. “That’s where people end up dropping stuff, so if you have somewhere to put it, it stays organized,” she says.  

By: Kathleen Dore Source: Tracey Ayton; styling by Darci Ilich Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Dining table

Rusticity and elegance complement each other in the kitchen’s eat-in area. The pairing of the woven rattan chairs and a shiny lantern-style pendant light is a case in point. “I think it’s important that you don’t go too trendy and you do what works for your family,” says Sydney.

By: Kathleen Dore Source: Tracey Ayton; styling by Darci Ilich Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Spa-like ensuite

“I thought, Why not make a big splash in the master bath?” says Sydney, who loves to get ready in the spa-like space.

By: Kathleen Dore Source: Tracey Ayton; styling by Darci Ilich Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Master bedroom

Soft hues and subtle patterns in the master bedroom provide a soothing yet inviting escape.

By: Kathleen Dore Source: Tracey Ayton; styling by Darci Ilich Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Soothing neutral family home

Designing for the family

"Family is really important. I always look for ways to facilitate togetherness in my designs," says Sydney.

By: Kathleen Dore Source: Tracey Ayton Credits: Style at Home

 

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Interior: Soothing neutral family home