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Your Home | Design Refreshers

From cookie-cutter spec house to a family-friendly refuge

Upgraded finishes and durable furnishings make a newly built residence in Wellesley more inviting.

Lindsay and Steve Eminger and their sons relax in the living room. Designer Emily Pinney layered the Emingers’ too-small rug over a custom-sized sisal to fill the floor space. A landscape painting by Jamie Kirkland hangs over the sofa. Jared Kuzia

The first time Lindsay and Steve Eminger worked with Emily Pinney, they were a family of two. “They were newlyweds living in the South End then,” recalls the Cambridge-based designer. This time around, they had additional considerations. The couple, who now have 4- and 1-year-old sons, hired Pinney to upgrade the cookie-cutter finishes in their spec house in Wellesley. “This house is about being family-friendly,” she says.

They also needed a lot of new furnishings. “We wanted the home to look nice and feel welcoming but work well with little kids,” Lindsay Eminger says.

The scheme is warm, bright, and primarily neutral, with blue, pink, and cool green accents. It reads sophisticated but not too serious. And everything is durable. Says Pinney, “We used velvets, leathers, and other all-natural fibers, then splurged on things harder for little hands — and cats — to find or wreck, like unique lighting and tile.”


While the house is fairly traditional, Eminger is drawn to transitional style with clean lines, as well as mid-century modern pieces. Saarinen dining chairs the family already owned complement the banquette Pinney designed to fill an empty corner in the kitchen. The multicolored Maharam upholstery on the chairs was the perfect jumping-off point for the blue island Eminger requested.

In the adjacent family room, a seal-gray velvet sofa plays off the island, and the leather swivel chairs can face the fireplace, television, or breakfast nook. A patterned ottoman on casters hides spills and is easy to position. The wooden lounge chair was chosen with older folks in mind. “Their parents found it tricky to navigate the deep sofas,” Pinney says. “This is a smaller, more structured alternative.”

The living room and master suite are quieter, more grown-up spaces. A custom wood bed with a linen cushion that hangs from the headboard is a cat-friendly alternative to a fully upholstered bed. In the master bath, the oak vanity and Roman shade made from floral Belgian linen by local textile designer Ellisha Alexina soften the marble-lined walls.


“Emily has a knack for understanding our style without us having to explain too much,” Eminger says. “She just puts everything together, and it looks awesome.”


Interior Design: Pinney Designs,

Cabinetry: New England Cabinetry and Millwork

Builder: JT Fleming & Company,

Construction: Tyler Sykes, Summit Construction

The kitchen island is painted Benjamin Moore Hale Navy. Jared Kuzia
The chandelier, by Robert Abbey, lends glamour to the master bath.Jared Kuzia


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Marni Elyse Katz is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to