Even the most minimalist of parents realize that with kids comes color. Such was the case for a couple who commissioned architect Peter Twombly of Estes Twombly + Titrington to design a quiet, modernist home with nods to traditional New England for their family of five in Hingham. When it came the kids’ bedrooms and bath, the couple wanted the decor to convey each of their distinct, playful personalities. They hired interior designer Sarah Scales to make it happen. “The kids have the run of the second floor, so we added fun color and flavor throughout while respecting the architecture,” Scales says.
Scales used a light touch on the L-shaped landing, which she fashioned into a reading nook. The family reads together here before bedtime most nights. For closed storage, she nestled an unobtrusive, built-in cabinet with simple sliding doors under the windows. It provides a perch for plants and barely encroaches on floor space. “It’s meant to be modest and disappear, not interfere with Peter’s design,” Scales says. Just around the bend, the designer relocated a freestanding bookshelf with an asymmetrical arrangement of shelves that accommodates irregularly sized picture books. The seating and rugs are clean-lined but cozy, and add a touch of color and pattern without being overwhelming.
The walls remain white for architectural integrity and consistency with the rest of the home. For visual interest and to decrease echo down the corridor, Scales laid a trio of wool rugs with cross-hatch patterning and hung a gallery-like collection of the owners’ whimsical art interspersed with pictures by the kids. Consistent, pale wood frames match the floors.
Behind closed doors, the decor is livelier. Scales installed Hinson Splatter wallpaper in the bath. The iconic early-1970s design composed of screen-printed spots is frisky, timeless, and gender neutral. “We made sensible choices for big ticket items,” Scales says. She extended the gallery wall into the bath, but switched to white frames to coordinate with the floating vanity that Twombly designed.
Like the bath, the older daughter’s room is wrapped in an iconic wallpaper — Cole & Son Woods in classic black and white for longevity. “It’s about bringing an outdoor vibe in,” Scales says. The room’s 10-year-old occupant asked for forest wallpaper so she could feel like she was in one. She also loves foxes. Scales went with rust (fox-colored!) color-blocking for the lower portion of the drapes, aligning them with the sill. The selections work well with the existing pale gray carpet, and adhere to the clients’ request that the decor remain fairly neutral. The comforter, which is a much less permanent element, offers a flowery moment. To keep the daughter’s collection of photographs, figurines, and such off the floor, Scales configured wall-hung, oak boxes where she can display them diorama-style.
The 8-year-old girl’s bedroom reflects what Scales calls the “incredible energy she brings to each day.” Scales notes that the candy-colored wallpaper by Èlitis seems made just for her and is sophisticated enough to last for years. To lessen the commitment, she framed a large piece, creating an oversize headboard effect. Natural linen drapery softens the window wall and keeps the focus on the raspberry upholstery of the Blu Dot bed. Rather than match the hue, Scales opted for bedding in what she calls “imperfectly matched” tones. The walnut nightstand by local maker SawTimber Woodworks and the black lampshade temper the spirited color combo.
In the 6-year-old boy’s bedroom, Scales applied constellation wallpaper by Ralph Lauren to the ceiling. “We switched up the applications so each room has its own feel,” she says. The midnight blue paper is a subtle reference to his interest in Star Wars. Tailored roman shades with sharp black and white stripes juxtapose the organic nature of the paper and will work indefinitely, regardless of how the decor might morph. Same with the low-slung chair, a single section of a modular sofa (the other two sections are in the reading nook). Next to it, Scales hung wooden shelves. “He has just as many little personal tchotchkes as the rest of them,” she says with a laugh.
Architecture: Estes Twombly + Titrington, ettarchitects.com
Interior Design: Sarah Scales Design Studio, sarahscales.com
Marni Elyse Katz is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.