Couple draws inspiration from calicos
When it comes to design, inspiration can be found anywhere: a painting, the view from a favorite lookout point, an article of clothing. For Sydni Neumann and Sam Nelson’s airy, eclectic, boho-meets-contemporary home, it was a beloved pet.
“The color scheme is based off Sydni’s cat,” Sam says. An affinity for their two calicos (Annie and Moira Rose) is reflected through the home’s consistent color palette: black, white, rust/orange, and green.
“I just buy what I like,” says Sydni. “Hi, I’m Sydni and I like green.”
The couple, parents to young kids Gemma and Milo in addition to their fur babies, purchased the property in 2019. Though they were living very nearby previously, this home was secluded enough that they’d never seen it, tucked away in a quiet pocket on the South Hill.
Sydni and Sam loved the layout and the vivid greens of the surrounding property, which is just under an acre. They also knew they could transform the home, which had been owned by a single family for decades, to fit their aesthetic and needs—with some “pretty radical changes,” says Sam, like moving the location of the kitchen, updating the color story, and replacing the flooring.
They hired Strohmaier Construction, impressed by the company’s organization and responsiveness. Remarkably, the remodel began in March of 2020 and finished that July, within one hour of the time Strohmaier estimated for completion—even during a pandemic. “They absolutely killed it,” says Sam.
Sam’s preferences lean more contemporary and Sydni tends toward a more bohemian style. They brought many of their own ideas to the table, with Strohmaier acting as a key player in finding the right balance, able to “refresh our ideas and mediate between us,” says Sam.
They made major changes in the layout, most notably flipping the location of the kitchen—formerly a walled-off galley. In the redone space, the large-scale, family-friendly island has a butcher block end cap with open shelving beneath. With its eye-catching geometric backsplash and rich wood cabinetry, the kitchen anchors one end of the open concept great room while feeling like its own distinct zone.
Creating zones was especially important to Sydni. “I like separate spaces,” she says. “I don’t like open concept.” This home marries the best of open concept with sectioned areas, like the sunken living room. While some expected them to raise the sunken space, the couple appreciated it as it was. When it comes to unique features others might write off, Sam and Sydni ask themselves, “Would we have enjoyed this as ten-year-olds?” For the sunken living room, that was a definite yes. To make this a more friendly space for their family, they removed the built-in bar and wood seating, painted the soaring fireplace black (Sam created the moody, muted art hanging here), and brought in a comfy sectional. It’s one of the couple’s favorite spots to relax. “We spend most of our time when our kids are asleep down in the pit,” Sydni says.
As seen in their embrace of the pit, the couple enjoys offbeat choices that reflect their personalities. Their home combines classic elements like soaring windows and a beamed ceiling with eclectic décor and darker accents that add to the home’s depth—skull décor, a gorgeous bouquet of now-dead roses, and plenty of black to balance out the dreamy, optimistic tones. “If there’s anything weird, we love it,” Sydni says.
The flooring through much of the home was replaced, with all of the original wool carpet (which immediately killed a robot vacuum) replaced with wide-planked hardwood composite flooring finished with white oak (upstairs, the floors are Brazilian cherry, put in by the original owners). For the staircase, Sydni loved the idea of covering the treads with moody, floral wallpaper. However, due to the open staircase, they purchased a black and white floral carpet instead, which Sam painstakingly cut and laid so that the pattern aligns perfectly from step to step. The slat wall is another element Sam created, replacing a previously less than showstopping mid-height railing with vertical wood slatting.
Each space is imbued with personality through its finishes, patterns, and texture, whether it’s the geometric granite of the kitchen backsplash, the combination of bright green vanity and delicate floral wallpaper in the powder bath, or the vivid green and geometric lines of the laundry room/mud room backsplash from Daltile. A mix of woods used in the flooring and millwork—including oak, cherry, maple, and poplar—contributes to the organic feel of the home, which is of course complemented by the couple’s many beloved indoor plants. Some of their favorites are the giant Bird of Paradise, the Monstera—presiding over things from the top of their kitchen cabinets—and their extensive collection of snake plants.
One clear goal in the home is that it works for every member of the family. “We absolutely put a priority on the kids enjoying the space,” says Sam. To that end, the kids have a functional and great-looking playroom just off the kitchen with floor-length windows looking out onto a picture-perfect crop of bamboo; there’s also a gallery wall of collected art and lots of open play space. This room “is a favorite,” says Sam, the perfect place to hang out and “make memories.”
Another functional and beautiful main floor space is the laundry and mud room—the family’s primary entrance into the home—which they made more usable and sunny with the addition of a window, built-in cabinetry, and perfectly weathered-looking tile flooring that masterfully disguises dirt.
From upstairs, the catwalk looks down on the main floor and spans the wings of the house, connecting the kids’ bedrooms and bath and the owners’ suite. From all of the windows there are gorgeous outdoor views. Toddler Gemma’s bedroom has “the best view in the house,” her parents say, showcasing the surrounding pines and foliage. The house “is right in the middle of town, but so forest-y,” says Sydni.
The home has a fair amount of surprising treasures, like the gorgeous walk-in owner’s closet Sydni has declared her favorite space in the house, with solid wood built-ins and an island. “This is my room. This is where I feel best at,” Sydni says. It also came with inherent quirks, like the full kitchenette in their room’s en suite bath that’s equipped with mini fridge (which they use) and wall-inset coffee maker (which they don’t), and a waist-height loft in one bedroom (it’s perfect for changing diapers on). But it’s no surprise that Sydni and Sam know how to make things work in a way that suits them—a trait that is obvious when it comes to the beverage fridge that the pair have devoted to a higher purpose. “Our wine fridge is actually out hot sauce fridge,” says Sydni.
“We are condiment queens,” says Sam.
They plan to work on their outdoor spaces, as well as redo the basement and other projects as they come up. The two of them love taking on the creative challenges and are forever tweaking their spaces, bringing their complementary skills and preferences to life at home. As Sam recently wrote on their home’s Instagram (@onemidmod) about Sydni’s excellent eye for design and styling, “I am lucky to have a partner like Sydni to make such a skill look so easy and cohesive. There is seldom a time with redesigns or furniture choices that I am on the critical side of the spectrum because she so consistently makes our home feel special and cozy.”
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