A busy mom transforms an outdated Casey Key, Florida, home into a relaxed carefree retreat for her energetic family.
Brielle M. Ferreira
1 of 8Photographer: Mark Lohman, Stylist: Francoise O'Neill
With four children and three dogs under one roof, Jeff and Nikki LaBelle's waterfront home on Casey Key, Florida, had to be one thing: easygoing. "I wanted it to be the kind of place where people could put their feet up on the furniture," says Nikki. "I didn't want to have to worry about everything always looking perfect." So she purposely outfitted the house with vintage pieces that feature worn, chipped parts in order to ensure that nothing was too delicate for her active crew. She also extended her anything-goes mentality to the home's brand new floors, letting the kids loose on the wooden planks with their skateboards and tricycles to achieve an aged, well-worn aesthetic. "They're low maintenance now and look great," says Nikki. "I don't have to obsess when a little sand gets dragged in."
Here, how to forgo constant upkeep and score a house with laid-back charm.
2 of 8Photographer: Mark Lohman, Stylist: Francoise O'Neill
1. Give them the slip.
Nikki made a brave choice, opting for light-colored sofas in the family room. Luckily, super durable white denim slipcovers stand up well in the high-traffic space. "They're absolutely incredible," she says. "I throw them in the wash with a bit of bleach once every three weeks, and they always look as good as new."
3 of 8Photographer: Mark Lohman, Stylist: Francoise O'Neill
2. Bring in some color.
One of the most frequently used areas in the home, the tiny breakfast nook off the kitchen is where the family shares their daily meals. Nikki commissioned the custom built-in and painted the backs of the shelves a pretty sky blue shade to make her white dinnerware pop.
4 of 8Photographer: Mark Lohman, Stylist: Francoise O'Neill
3. Start from scratch.
The kitchen was a complete gut job, allowing Nikki to pick out finishes that complemented the rest of the house—like the bright white cabinetry and stainless appliances, as well as the touch of blue throughout. "I wanted it to be clean and orderly," she says. "Everything has a place."
5 of 8Photographer: Mark Lohman, Stylist: Francoise O'Neill
4. Be a bench player.
The family spends a lot of time outside, whether digging in a small organic garden they planted or hosting friends and neighbors for the holidays. "A couple of years ago, we had more than 20 people outside on the patio for Christmas," says Nikki. "I had the benches custom made; they make it easier to fit more people around the table comfortably."
6 of 8Photographer: Mark Lohman, Stylist: Francoise O'Neill
5. Rediscover the romance.
Nikki's love of antiques extends into the master suite, where the handsome mirror above her bed was fashioned from an old frame salvaged from a now-defunct hotel in nearby Lido Beach. The piece's chipped white finish joins soft, ruffled linens and an ornate chandelier in lending a romantic, shabby chic vibe to the room.
7 of 8Photographer: Mark Lohman, Stylist: Francoise O'Neill
6. Paint on personality.
The home's exterior got a much-needed face-lift and updating thanks to several gallons of new paint. "When we first moved in, it was severely lacking in the character department," Nikki says, so she selected a hue and had the graying cedar siding painted a cheerful sage green with contrasting white trim to give the facade a quaint, Key West feel.
8 of 8Photographer: Mark Lohman, Stylist: Francoise O'Neill
7. Build it bigger.
Because the home's previous bath was tiny and cramped, the LaBelles borrowed space from a screened-in balcony to build it outwards, making room for a stand-alone tub and separate changing area. Marble floors and walls of windows open up the space further for a serene, spa-like experience.