Moira and Ryan Murphy have the two adorable kids — 8-year-old Brooke and 5-year-old Robert — and the cute dog, Welsh springer spaniel Remy. Their Roslindale duplex, however, left a lot to be desired. “We were still in college mode with our decorating,” Moira Murphy says.
Then she visited a friend’s recently redesigned home and saw the way forward. She recalls, “I was like, ‘Wait, what? How did you do this?’ ” The short answer: call Mary Flo Ouellette and Steven Santosuosso of Squarehouse Studios in Somerville.
Although home décor is not Murphy’s strong suit — “I don’t look at design magazines, and catalogs go right into the recycling bin,” she says — the family has a fine-tuned appreciation for art. They already owned an abstract painting by local artist Byrd Swift, which Ouellette and Santosuosso used in devising a palette that features bold teal accents, playful patterns, and warm woods. “They were really open to energetic colors and whimsical pieces,” says Ouellette.
The duo reworked the living room, where a microsuede sofa pushed against the wall made the layout awkward. “Every time someone walked in the front door, he or she had to cross right in front of the sofa,” Santosuosso says. By positioning a new curved sectional in the center of the space, the designers delineated a path behind it. The configuration also made for a more intimate seating area.
To help pare down further, Ouellette and Santosuosso redesigned the fireplace wall. They carved back the monolithic chimney and tore out its black tiles and traditional mantelpiece. In its place, a shallow drywall surround in the same light gray as the rest of the room is the anchor.
On the mantel is a painting Ouellette found by Katherine Strause, an artist from her hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. It reminds everyone who sees it of the kids. “My daughter is frequently upside-down,” Murphy says with a laugh. “And my son likes to do what she does, so he is sometimes upside-down, too.”
New walnut benches flank the fireplace, adding warmth and seating. An underutilized corner is now a cozy reading nook with an oversize swivel chair and a children’s art gallery fashioned out of steel cable wires from Ikea. “My daughter used painter’s tape to hang her art all over the house,” Murphy says. “This is much more contained.”
The mudroom gained easy, eye-catching enhancements that include a bench, hooks, and shelves. Slice wallpaper from Hygge & West in the powder room ties together the colors in the living room and kitchen.
In the made-over dining area, walls painted Benjamin Moore Adriatic Sea make a statement. “We love the flash of blue with all the white cabinetry,” Santosuosso says. The built-in banquette will go without cushions until the kids are older, and the extension table with self-storing leaves offers flexibility. A landscape by local artist Chris Firger, commissioned by the homeowners, commands the spotlight. It depicts the Arnold Arboretum, a favorite destination for family together time.
The designers reimagined both children’s bedrooms and their bathroom, which sports multicolor confetti-like wallpaper.
A bunk bed with a slide is the main draw in Robert’s room, which also has a cozy new window seat. Taking cues from Brooke’s request for a canopy bed and fascination with woodland creatures, Ouellette and Santosuosso created an enchanted forest theme, with a fantastical floral mural as the focal point. Like Robert’s, Brooke’s bed is large, and the room offers an extra spot to sleep, since multiple family members like to pile in.
When Murphy needs a break, she escapes to what they call “the quiet room” off the master bedroom for yoga and meditation. “I have a grown-up house now,” she says. “And that feels good.”
Interior Design: Squarehouse Studios, squarehousestudios.com
Contractor: The Remodeling Company, theremodelingco.com