With a twinkle in his 8-year-old eyes, Rory, the youngest of the three boys who bring this lower level to energetic life, suggested to his mom, Anne, that the family’s next project should be a water slide, “straight from the bedroom windows into the pool!”
You really can’t blame Rory for trying— after all, his mom created the room’s brightly hued color-block wall with the help of older brother Will, when Will was about 5 years old. “We had a four-hour layover in Florida,” Anne says. “And we just sat down with paper and markers and figured it out. I knew I wanted three colors, so we divided the design into three squares, and played with the colors until we had it just right.” That original design is archived behind the finished work—tucked in next to the electrical panel that’s cleverly camouflaged in the corner of the wall.
The light-filled lower level is Anne’s favorite spot in the family’s home, which they moved into in 2005 after 15 months of construction. “We built this home just in front of our old house, on the same lot,” she explains. “It’s a wonderful property and close to everything. And we were able to live in the old house during construction.” Some fixtures and cabinets from the original structure were incorporated into the new space, an idea that seemed inspired at the time, she adds. “But it was about eight weeks from the time they pulled the appliances out, to when they were installed in the new house. That was a long eight weeks!”
With a workout room, pinball, billiards and more, the space offers a world of recreation for the entire family and—on one wall—the world itself. Anne found the floor-to-ceiling map of the globe in a catalog, where it was described as ‘easy to install,’ a claim she says is not exactly accurate. “It came in several pieces, and the installer said it was ‘tricky.’ But my youngest son was completely impressed when he learned that his older brother got 100 percent on his geography quiz!”
Clever use of texture and color on the floor divide the room into use-specific areas without cluttering the impressive sightlines. Instead of a straight line, carpeting carves out a curved edge where it meets ceramic tile, adding movement to the geometric theme. At the room’s center, the carpeting changes from purple to green in a jigsaw cut, mimicking the lines of a castle parapet wall.
Competitive challenges aren’t limited to the pool table or the Wii, because the boys have discovered that large-scale sports also are possible with some judicious furniture rearrangement. Although she can sometimes hear something reverberating off the walls, Anne’s never quite sure what game is taking place. “Honestly?” she laughs. “I don’t even want to see.”
Although the entire space is kid-friendly, with industrial fabrics and tough finishes, a cozy seating area in front of the fireplace is elegant enough to lure grown-ups. Thoughtfully placed spotlights illuminate the fire from above, and a ledge of cove molding, painted a barely-there shade of soft orange, frames this end of the room. As you put your head back and relax, the serene space could almost have you doubting the presence of three active boys, and then you look up.
There, resting on the edge of the elegant molding, is a bright green tennis ball. Whatever that game was, this must certainly count as a home run.