Inside Homes: Come In and Stay Awhile

by Laura

Kristin Kuehl has created a classic, yet vibrant, family-oriented house. 

By Laura Wainman

(photo by Joseph Allen)

Kuehl is constantly tinkering with decor and placement and has enlisted a friend’s help to move this piano twice. (Photo by Joseph Allen)

Walk into Kristin Kuehl’s Colonial house in Bethesda and you may feel so comfortable that you start sharing your life story. Whether it is the subtle scent of Japanese Quince filling the foyer, the tinkling of melodic jazz music in the background or the personal, familial touches gracing each and every room, a guest in Kuehl’s house instantly feels welcome and wanted.

It doesn’t hurt that this single mother of three also runs a successful design company, Kristin Kuehl Interiors, and knows the tips and tricks of accessorizing to create a desired atmosphere. For Kuehl, that atmosphere is a calming respite from the demands of the day where her offspring can unwind and feel relaxed and secure.

“With children so programmed today, I think they need a refuge just as much as we do as adults,” Kuehl says. “My goal was to create that cocoon-like feeling, and then add an unexpected shot of levity to keep us all smiling.”

Take the neon, limited-edition Andy Warhol panda print above the living room mantle, or the Marilyn Monroe paper-cut tesselation portraiture by Craig Tinsky in the back of the foyer as examples — both are classic, either in terms of the artist or the subject matter, with a bit of whimsy thrown in to add a unique element of surprise that makes the house so personalized.

For a woman who selects cream as her favorite color, her house nonetheless boasts a lot of color and positive energy, from the golden yellow ombre paint in her dining room (representing sunset) to the paisley pink wallpaper in middle child Amelia’s bedroom and brightly-colored Glassybaby candles strewn throughout the house. But the bright, airy vibe is a far cry from the dark and traditionally heavy decor she encountered when she first arrived.

Kuehl purchased the house with her now ex-husband in 2004 and moved her burgeoning family in two weeks before she gave birth to her youngest child, Carter. With two children under the age of three and a third to arrive shortly,  renovations were not a priority. Thus, she needed a space where she could focus on small redesigns over time rather than complete overhauls.

“I admit I am always tinkering and making changes, but oftentimes its not even about replacing items, but relocating,” Kuehl says. “I’ll change pillows constantly, because it is such an easy way to make a room feel entirely different. I love paying attention to the little details that not everyone would notice, as it keeps a space layered and more interesting.”

In the Kuehl household those little details often reflect the family’s history, an observation made by the children themselves. In Carter’s bedroom, for example, Kuehl framed 30 of his father’s Yankee baseball cards and hung Carter’s Alex Rodriguez jersey in the middle to connect father and son, both avid Yankees fans. Photos of all three children taken every year on Fourth of July are displayed on a shelf right outside the kitchen, while a painting of Kuehl’s grandmothers hangs in the foyer not far from her great-grandmother’s tea set in the dining room.

“These historical pieces, even though they may not be the most valuable, give my home a special touch that even the finest accessories or art couldn’t possibly replicate,” she says.

Carter noted that his mother’s placement of a large and comfortable sofa in her home office indicates that she wants her kids with her even when she is working. And if you spend an afternoon there, that’s exactly what you’ll take away. Kristin Kuehl has dedicated herself to creating a home that reflects her family and their interests on every surface, from the sophisticated and glamorous family room where they enjoy post-dinner conversations about their days, to the kid-centric, white-and-black stripe wallpapered basement movie room.

See the full article from the May issue below, with more photos of Kuehl’s house. 

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