The Makings of a Fun House

An Astroturf backyard, whale wallpaper, and Peter Pan curtains in the kitchen. HGTV Magazine got a tour of this playful home.
By: Kathleen Renda

©Copyright 2013 Lisa Romerein

©Copyright 2013 Lisa Romerein

©Copyright 2013 Lisa Romerein

©Copyright 2013 Lisa Romerein

©Copyright 2013 Lisa Romerein

©Copyright 2013 Lisa Romerein

©Copyright 2013 Lisa Romerein

©Copyright 2013 Lisa Romerein

©Copyright 2013 Lisa Romerein

©Copyright 2013 Lisa Romerein

Every Room is a Playroom

Meredith and Jesse Alexander’s laid-back 1946 bungalow in Santa Monica, CA, doesn’t take itself too seriously. It's a kick-off-your-shoes kind of place where sons Monty (left) and Simon (next to his brother) can eat anywhere they can carry food. "Nothing is precious or too expensive, because the boys wear things down," says Meredith, who runs Milk + Bookies, a nonprofit organization that promotes childhood literacy. The family’s mixed-breed rescue, Molly, loves the bright colors, too.

Transformations to Comes

She got the green light from her screenwriter husband to do full-tilt whimsy when the family moved in two years ago. “I love anything bold. It feels fun and has personality,” she says. The colorful style makes a huge impact—but not for long. When the boys head off to college, the bungalow is switching from kid-proof practical to subtly sophisticated. “It’s going to be white and simple. With breakables,” says Meredith.

Living Room

The living room is painted a snowy white (Swiss Coffee by Dunn-Edwards), which creates a simple backdrop for the cobalt blue sofas upholstered in Sunbrella fabric. Knowing the space wouldn’t get the same wear and tear as the other rooms, Meredith indulged her fondness for all things Jonathan Adler with an area rug, pillows, and the mirror over the mantel. Even the curtains are from her favorite designer—they’re sewn from a set of Jonathan Adler sheets.


“I’m always, always in the kitchen,” says Meredith, so she purposely kept it calming and low-maintenance. Minimalist white cabinetry is easy to clean, the quartz countertops are scratch- and stain-resistant, and the laminate floors mimic hardwood without the upkeep. Orange metal stools from break up the expanse of white.

Whimsical Window Treatment

The café curtain is sewn from vintage fabric with Peter Pan illustrations. It was originally intended for Monty’s bedroom, but it’s now “front and center where we can all enjoy it,” she says.

Master Bedroom

It resembles shelf after shelf of hardcovers, but the eye-fooling illustration in the master bedroom is actually wallpaper (Bibliotheque by Brunschwig & Fils). The 2-D stacks never require dusting or organizing like the real deal. Another bonus: The wallpaper’s range of colors made it a cinch to find complementary bedding, like an orange coverlet and matching shams from Pine Cone Hill, embroidered Euro shams from John Robshaw, a patterned pillow from Layla Grayce, and a metallic pillow from West Elm.

Simon's Bedroom

Simon’s custom bed is loaded with cubbies for stashing stuffed animals, books, and tiny treasures. With the wool plaid curtain closed, it’s a cozy hideaway for bedtime reading, complete with framed animal portraits from Urban Outfitters and a clamp lamp from The Land of Nod. The bed is sandwiched between a built-in cabinet below and a shelf above to maximize storage space without gobbling up room on the floor.


Anything but shy, this whale design from Walnut Wallpaper energizes Monty and Simon’s white-tiled bathroom. Plus, the keep-the-eye-roving print helps disguise the room’s smallish size. A vanity from The Home Depot with a trio of drawers makes it easier for the boys to keep things neat. Ditto the washing-machine-shaped hamper by ModCloth. A triple-tier turquoise cart from IKEA squeezes in next to the sink.


Lots of vibrant blues and geometric prints—a striped IKEA sofa, a graphic Land of Nod rug, a regatta-inspired pendant light—create a fun vibe in the garage transformed into a rec room. A 12-foot-long dining table accommodates everything from crafts projects to a sprawling Lego collection. Clear drawers from The Container Store, which sit on shelves from The Home Depot, help organize hobby supplies.


The perfect size for sharing, the outdoor custom loungers are upholstered in striped Sunbrella fabric that can withstand damp swimsuits and muddy paws. There are no shade trees in this part of the yard, so a matching awning was installed as a sun shield. The plastic gnome table from Kartell ( multitasks as a drink perch. This “lawn” is Astroturf!

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