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Your home | family living

Living and working stylishly in a Roxbury loft

Married designers with a young daughter combine sophisticated residence and child-friendly workspace in their open-plan space.

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Clara paints at the marble-topped Saarinen dining table her parents won in the Apartment Therapy 2009 Small Cool contest. The 1960s chairs, which Brad Dufton painted white and had reupholstered in an indoor/outdoor fabric, are from eBay. The clear glass pendant light cost $19.99 at a North Shore antiques shop.
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A graphic print of the Flying Horses Carousel on Martha’s Vineyard hangs above Clara’s desk.

Like many young families, the Duftons of Roxbury’s Dudley Square opt for open-plan living. What sets Kendra and Brad Dufton apart is that their home — a 1,350-square-foot loft in a former shoe factory — is also the studio for their interior design firm, Color Theory Boston. The couple like that the setup lets their 3-year-old daughter, Clara, see the daily goings on of their business. “She picks up on everything we do,” Brad says. “It’s important to us to raise her like this.”

The space perfectly accommodates the Duftons’ growing business, family, and vintage collections. With original wood floors, exposed ductwork, 11-foot ceilings, and six giant windows, the loft has the aura of an artist’s haven. And its layout is tailor-made for the trio. A raised platform nestled in one corner of the main space serves as Color Theory headquarters. Cubbies overflow with presentation binders, design books, and bins of swatches, with two that hold Clara’s art materials, giving her a stake in an area otherwise dedicated to business.

Next to the shelving is a child-size antique desk for “Clara work.” A swath of Cole & Son Tropical Birds wallpaper, left over from a job on Martha’s Vineyard, adorns the wall where the room transitions to black. A recent addition is Clara’s first gallery, a series of 20 small square pieces of spin art. “We want Clara to feel she has a voice here,” says her father, “but we display it in a sophisticated way.”

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Clara’s “library” is another example of how the couple balance their desire for cool design and the reality of living with a little one. “Every book cover features art that works well with our palette,” Brad says.

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Floating shelves showcase rotating collections of vintage finds, including porcelain figurines (peacocks figure prominently), a geometric print that inspired Clara’s nursery, and vases that make their way into clients’ homes. Both Kendra and Brad come from families with a strong aesthetic sense, which they want to impart to Clara. Everything is visually stimulating and not necessarily off-limits. “She loves holding the little pieces,” says Kendra, and she handles them carefully.

While the couple’s bedroom is a jewel-like retreat bathed in the firm’s signature shade, Benjamin Moore’s Bermuda Turquoise, Clara’s space — a former recording studio that encompasses sleeping and play areas — is vibrant, fun, and feminine. Graphic black-and-white wallpapers contrast with juicy pinky-purple walls, grounded with patterned rugs in coordinating hues. A tepee sits alongside a dress-up corner that resembles a pint-size boutique replete with princess paraphernalia. Like the rest of the home — and the rooms the adult Duftons create for clients — the aesthetic is unique and personal.

The loft is a dream come true for an urban family, but being in close proximity has challenges, too. In a corner of the living room is Brad’s “time out” chair, a vintage Italian piece upholstered in soft olive leather, where he sits when feeling overwhelmed. “It’s a quick reality check to remind me how great our situation is,” he explains. “This is exactly how we want to live.”

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The Cole & Son Riviera wallpaper in the play area creates a window-like effect.

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