New House Done Right

Spacious rooms, color-rich furnishings, and contemporary details pack a family home with personality plus.
Alice Welsh Doyle

You have to feel good about your home when complete strangers stop to take pictures or knock on the door wanting to know your builder's name or the paint colors you used. "People preface their request with 'I can't believe I'm doing this' or 'I just love your house,' " says Mary Campise. It happens so often that she has paint samples pre-dipped to hand out at the door. Mary and husband Leon also usually end up giving the strangers a tour.

Their house, located on a corner in historic downtown Plano, Texas, is so good-looking, you can hardly blame people for wanting to know more. Although new, the home's character comes from its Craftsman orientation. "There were other architectural styles represented in the neighborhood to choose from, including Victorian," says Houston architect Tom Wilson. "But the more understated Craftsman with its simple lines really suited the Campises' taste." That taste is definitely not fussy--there are no priceless antiques and delicate furnishings here. Everything is comfortable with a fresh contemporary flair; you can prop up your feet anywhere. The house is totally geared toward the family's active lifestyle with daughters Kendall, Sophie, and Phoebe and "Big Dog" (a rescued English sheepdog). Family-focused design ideas are found throughout.

A Central Staircase That Makes Sense
Instead of the traditional front staircase leading from the foyer, the Campises' is centrally located and leads directly into the living spaces--kitchen and family room. "There's more interaction that way," says Mary.

Pocket Doors Add Privacy
While the floor plan is very open, glass-front pocket doors allow some rooms to be closed off for different occasions and parties. "The adults will be in the dining room/living room with the door closed, but we can still look out on the kids," says Mary. There are also doors on the upstairs playroom, so parents can casually walk by to check on the activities inside without making a big fuss.

Put Your Playroom in the Perfect Spot
The playroom was strategically placed above the porte cochere and on a separate level than the girls' bedrooms. "A lot of houses don't take noise control into account," explains Tom. "Here the playroom is set apart so noise is not a big issue, but it's still removed from the bedrooms--a very smart choice with teenagers in the house."

Include a Big Island
"We knew the kitchen would be the central meeting place," says Leon, "so we put in a large island with room for everyone and did away with the separate breakfast room." Plenty of barstools with a contemporary look line the island so family and friends can hang out while meals are being prepared. "When we have a big party, the island makes a perfect buffet," adds Mary.

Comfort and Durability Go Hand in Hand
Concrete is the favored material downstairs--stained and scored for the floors and poured and sealed for the island. It's long-lasting and also fits in with more modern interiors. Mary has filled the home with finds from all over Texas and beyond. "Every piece has a story. I know when and where we got it," she says. Sleek pieces and distressed ones, neutral sofas and patterned chairs, children's photos and abstract art, funky pieces and more traditional ones--everything fits right in. This truly is a new house done right. Just ask the neighbors and the strangers.

"New House Done Right" is from the February 2006 issue of Southern Living.