You might say Jen Pan is a believer in the old cliché “Everything happens for a reason.” When she and her husband, Stephen, were moving from Los Angeles to Austin, TX, six years ago, they put in an offer on a move-in-ready home, only to see the deal fall through. “We were so disappointed,” says Jen. “All that house required was unpacking our boxes.” As they resumed their real estate hunt, the couple found themselves drawn to a home on the opposite end of the style spectrum — a mid-century four-bedroom, three-bath converted duplex. “The interiors — neutral through and through — were not my thing,” she says. “But the location was so great, we went for it.”
Turns out the universe was giving Jen an opportunity to do something she’d always wanted to do: reno and decorate a space from scratch. “We only lived in L.A. for a year, so our home never reflected our taste. I didn’t realize how much I was dying to decorate. I wanted color! I wanted cool fabrics!” They saved up for four years, then hired designer Amity Worrel to help the plan — which included a dream kitchen, a grown-up master bedroom, and a cheery new mudroom — come to life. “It would have been great to be settled in within a week,” says Jen. “But getting to know the house before putting my stamp on it made all the difference.”
“I definitely had a small panic attack the day the painters started on the house,” Jen says of the color (Black Forest Green by Benjamin Moore). “But we really love how it stands out from the others in our neighborhood.”
Before designer Amity got her hands on it, this room was bare-bones: an oatmeal-color sofa and a matching ottoman. Because the Pans didn’t want to get rid of the sectional, Amity worked around it, re-covering the ottoman in jade velvet with lime green trim and adding colorful curtains made with the same DwellStudio for Robert Allen fabric that’s in the dining room. The diamond-pattern rug looks like jute, but it’s actually kid-friendly polypropylene. The pillows are made from a mix of fabrics from Hable Construction for S. Harris, Galbraith & Paul and DwellStudio for Robert Allen.
“People are always asking me, ‘Is that wallpaper?’ ” Jen says of the to-the-ceiling hexagonal Mosaic House cement tiles. “When we put them in, part of me was like, Am I going to get sick of this? But I still love it.” With such a busy pattern, she kept everything else simple: HanStone quartz countertops in Bianco Canvas, Shaker-style cabinets painted grayish white (Mirage Gray by Pratt & Lambert) and modern brass pulls and knobs. The original blond oak floors were still in great condition, so the Pans just had them restained a few shades darker.
Painting the walls white (White Dove by Benjamin Moore) throughout the first floor wasn’t Jen’s initial instinct. “But it made the downstairs, which is basically one open area, look cohesive,” she says. To feed her need for color, she picked a navy-and-white Serena & Lily bistro bench, a mustard-and-white rug by Artistic Weavers and multihued checked curtains made from DwellStudio for Robert Allen fabric. The Saarinen-style table is from Rove Concepts, and the dining chairs are also Serena & Lily.
This designated dumping ground for Annelise’s and Oliver’s stuff is located in the back of the house. It’s also where the family enters and exits most often. Since you can’t see it from the rest of the living spaces, Jen decided to really have fun with color. The custom cabinets and cubbies are painted grasshopper green (Arsenic by Farrow & Ball), and the diamond-print rug is from Grandin Road.
“There’s something about the look of two twin beds in a child’s room that I love,” says Jen. She bought a set from IKEA, outfitted them with PBTeen comforters, and had Etsy vendor Decals Murals make custom decals for the headboards. “My brother and his family live in Dallas, so it’s nice to have some sleeping space for cousins when they visit,” she says. She sewed the navy-and-white curtains herself from blue cotton fabric she picked up at Jo-Ann and white waffle-weave cotton that used to be a shower curtain.
Jen didn’t want Annelise’s room to be “showered in pink,” so she picked this out-of-the-box lavender-and-tangerine color palette. The dresser is from IKEA, the pumpkin orange glider and the frameless mirrors are from The Land of Nod and the round rug is by Martha Stewart.
“Because Oliver and Annelise have the run of the house, it was really important for me to have a space that felt adult,” says Jen. The couple bought this bed when they moved in, and even though Jen now admits “it’s too big for the room,” she made it work by hanging an Otomi tapestry from eBay over the tall headboard to break up the expanse of microsuede. The medallion-print quilt is from John Robshaw, and the magenta curtains were made from Duralee fabric.