A Wilton home is perfected for a family of five

Designer and 2009 CTC&G IDA winner Leslie May lives by her design philosophy that homeowners should live in every room in their home.

A glimpse of designer (and 2009 CTC&G IDA winner) Leslie May’s home reveals that she is true to her Family Style blog, which is dedicated to “making your nest elegant, chic and completely family cozy.”

What is your design philosophy? My basic design philosophy that I applied in my home and impart to my clients, is; live in every room of your home. Since I have a brood of small children and dogs following me wherever I go, I had to make all the spaces in my home inviting to all ages, or I would never get to go in them!

Tell me about your house. Our house was built in the 1930s. We did a renovation in 2008/2009 that basically gutted the first floor—kitchen, family room, foyer and dining room—and added a living room and master suite with sitting room. The design is sophisticated and tailored, but each room is planned for real life, in the living room just as much as the family room. We also gutted and renovated what was a small workshop in order to create my studio. Having a separate building as a home office is a real luxury.

How do you create spaces that are inviting for everyone? Our living room, for example, has two upholstered toy bins that hold train tracks and tea sets. The bins just blend in when the space is used for more adult purposes. We actually use the living room a lot for play dates and cocktail parties alike. The children also love the bay window seat, and use it as a stage, reading nook or diving platform! The foyer is another unpredictable spot where we spend a lot of time. With radiant floor heating, the wide expanse of wood planks is like a canvas for the kids’ imaginations.

How do you balance family-friendly with chic and elegant? After I plan a space that has a purpose for everyone, then I like to add the “wow” factor—layering a chic and elegant aesthetic that, when applied thoughtfully, does not interfere with real living. Faux painting, well-tailored drapery and antiques can find a home in even the most boisterous spaces. Even the dining room isn’t off-limits: We play board games at the table. I tell my clients you can have an antique table, but save the silk for the drapes, not seat cushions. It’s all about planning and smart choices.

What are some examples in your house? The living room walls are upholstered in a creamy suede, which is actually very easy to clean. The ceiling in the dining room has a faux tortoiseshell paint. Ceilings are a great place to spend some design dollars; you don’t have to worry about messy fingers or soccer cleats. In the master bedroom, I upholstered the wall behind the bed in soothing pale blue and cream zebra stripes—it extends the plush feeling of the headboard, and it’s tucked behind the headboard and bedside tables, so no hands can get to it. In the foyer, I used a mustard grasscloth that makes me smile everyday. Walls are another great spot to spend design dollars, since they really don’t get much wear and tear.