May 2010: Kids


Free-form for all

Problem: Integrating kids in every room

When architect and mom of two Kendra Guiffre designed her family’s home on Lake Monticello, her struggle was to create a modern structure that would reflect her professional and personal aesthetic, but also respect the more traditional lake community where she was building. But she had an even bigger challenge than convincing the homeowners association of the beauty of her flat roofline and bright orange door. 

Architect and mom Kendra Guiffre designed a “napping/play area/kid sick bed” that helps integrate 7-year-old Piper and 9-year-old Owen into the family’s common space.

“One of our design criteria was that the house be child-friendly rather than childproof,” says Guiffre.

Instead of relegating the young ones to separate wings or the basement, Guiffre went for an egalitarian approach: “Everybody has a view of the lake, not just the master bedroom,” she says.

In fact, everyone has a view of the lake from just about everywhere thanks to Guiffre’s open, window-filled floor plan, where spatial distinctions among living, lounging, working and playing are minimal. Guiffre designed the spaces to be easily adapted and transformed as the family’s needs and desires change. For example, a toddler play corner of the kitchen has become an arts and crafts area as the kids have matured, and Guiffre plans to turn a built-in outdoor sandbox into a garden bed.

The house is so free-form and flowing that the family even shares a large bathroom where the kids’ end, with double sinks, toilet and showers, is connected to the parents’ end, with its own double sinks, toilet and showers, by a central bathtub flanked by privacy curtains on each side.

Incorporating a space of one’s own for the kids in every area of the home meant Guiffre often thought under, up and in. A small finished space tucked beneath the staircase has become a dressing room for 9-year-old Owen and 7-year-old Piper’s plays and skits; partial walls that don’t quite meet the 9′- to 14′-foot ceilings throughout the home have become reading nooks and hideaway lofts; and an alcove built into the partial wall of shelves in the kitchen has become a special lounging area of the arts and crafts corner.

“We call it the ‘napping/ play area/kid sick bed,’” says Guiffre.—Katherine Ludwig


Buried treasure

Tired of hunting for firemen’s hats, tiaras, fairy wings and superhero capes strewn about the house? Keep the dress-up attire contained in a large toy chest, like this one that doubles as a bench from Kidkraft, and your junior actors will be ready for the next impromptu performance. Natural Finished Toy Box, $144.99 at—K.L.