House Tour: Empty Nesters
Ready for post-kid life, an Indianapolis couple changed course, moving out of the ’burbs and back to the city. Their home’s clever design holds smart lessons for anyone who loves to entertain friends year-round.
The property listing might have seemed like a red flag. Bare lots near busy urban intersections don't beckon most buyers. But the neighborhood just north of Indianapolis was familiar territory for empty-nesters Lisa and Larry Sablosky. Larry grew up around here and always planned to return. Lisa is a Chicago native. After raising their daughters in the suburbs, the pair were eager to move closer to downtown.
Architect Matthew Harris' vision convinced the Sabloskys to make an offer. Drawing inspiration from the lot's original clapboard home, he proposed a U-shape modern farmhouse that would focus attention inward to a courtyard pool rather than outward to the street. The open floor plan has multiple areas for entertaining to accommodate the Sabloskys' next chapter-weekends spent hosting leisurely dinners and overnight visits with their friends. "At first, we looked at the lot and thought it was horrible. But we're not raising children here," Lisa says. "The house just suits our lifestyle so perfectly at this stage of our lives."
Fresh Air The home's biggest windows-three sets of wide French doors-face inward, to the pool. (Small, high windows look the other way.) "Even though we're on a busy street," Lisa explains, "you don't realize it." Two indoor-outdoor spaces flank the pool: a screened porch off the kitchen and, beyond that, a pergola-covered sitting area with an outdoor fireplace. "I wasn't sure we'd use it," Lisa recalls, "but up until November, we'll have a fire out there." Patio heaters or free-standing fireplaces are good alternatives.
Material Connections Having created separate "rooms" within a large space, repeating colors and materials helps tie them together. Black recurs in small doses across the great-room-in furniture legs, French door frames, a lamp base. The same textured taupe upholstery appears on some (but not all) of the furniture in the two sitting areas. A showpiece Indiana limestone fireplace recalls the home's natural stone exterior.
Zone Out Love the space of a great-room but not the cavernous feel? Use a few tricks to divide a large space without sacrificing openness. Here, timber ceiling trusses and floating metal shelves set the kitchen apart. A pair of oversize lights visually anchors the dining table. Two separate sitting areas, defined by area rugs, encourage conversation.
Lisa and Larry built their courtyard around three distinct yet connected zones-pool, porch and pergola. But you can define outdoor rooms without a major remodeling project.
Natural Appeal Line up large pots of grasses, tropical plants or small trees along the side of a patio or deck or between areas in the yard. (You could plant a divider, of course, but pots are a flexible, quick fix.)
Hammer and Nails A freestanding section of horizontal fencing or a trellis can define a boundary. Likewise, garden gates and arbors with climbing plants serve as buffers between open and secluded spots.
Shady Characters A pergola planted with grapevines, sailcloths stretched into canopies or even a set of outdoor draperies hung on the porch offer both shade and privacy.
Architect Matt Harris, MW Harris, Indianapolis (317) 250-3921; email@example.com
SCREENED PORCH Chairs Belvedere Luxe Lounge Chair, fabric: Perennials Textured Linen Weave, color: natural. Restoration Hardware (restorationhardware.com).
GREAT-ROOM Dining table Syntaxe, top: Smooth Oak. Roche Bobois (roche-bobois.com). Dining chairs 413 CAB, color: Cuoio Bianco. Cassina (cassina.com). Bar stools Berlin; wood stain: Charcoal; fabric: Whisper Gray. Kravet (kravet.com). Kitchen shelving Double Shelf, finish: stainless steel. Arclinea (arclinea.com) Chandelier Star, shades: White Linen. Lampa (lampa.com) Occasional chairs Noland, finish: walnut. Bernhardt (bernhardt.com) Club chairs Trinity, color: white. Kravet (kravet.com). Ottoman Harry Large, color: 280 Koto. B&B Italia (bebitalia.com). Sofa Mary, color: custom. Montauk (montauksofa.com).