When Paola and Matt Treese decided to update their Columbia home, they knew they wanted it to match the lifestyle of the family they'd become: a busy one, focused on two active sons, and with growing need for storage space.

"I feel like the boys are our life," Paola said.


The three-bedroom home in the Village of Long Reach was built in 1998 and was 8 years old when the Treeses bought it. It has three full bathrooms and a powder room in about 2,800 square feet of above-grade living space on a quarter-acre lot.

The couple wanted a practical and contemporary decor — stylish, bright and flexible, and child-friendly yet with some sophistication.

"It took us time to make changes. We were having babies and working. There was no time to put any energy into it," said Paola, noting that they lived there seven years before taking on such big projects as replacing windows, renovating the deck to include stairs to the backyard and installing stainless-steel kitchen appliances.

Now, two years into a methodical update on the decor, the home has become what they envisioned — a stylishly pulled-together, kid-friendly home with splashes of color and ample storage, where the space is well used and everyone's needs are considered.

For help, the couple — Paola, 40, is an office manager and Matt, 40, is a consultant for medical device sales — turned to a longtime friend, interior designer Brigid Wethington, who owns B. Chic Interiors in Columbia.

They settled on grays for most walls with yellow, orange and turquoise-to-teal to add color.

"I've always liked bold colors," Paola said.

White sheepskin throws bring soft texture to furniture. Drapes in a stone color with an ivory diamond-like pattern are in the living and family rooms.

A subtle beach theme, a nod to the couple's love of the outdoors and Matt's love of water sports, is reflected in abstract art of the ocean.

"We wanted to have a place for quiet time or a quiet space for the boys — for me, too," Paola said of the informal living room. It's a go-to spot for reading, with front-facing windows, recessed lights and a whimsical chandelier illuminating it. A rectangular light gray rug with a darker border is topped by faux sheepskin and chairs — Paola might swap the chairs for chaise lounges — and a round orange ottoman, with embroidery, for putting one's feet up.

"My family is from South America, Colombia," said Paola, adding that the ottoman's design "reminds me of things my grandmother had."

It's all set against a wall covered by an abstract print on stretched polyester. Paola worked with Wethington's brother-in-law to create a design enlivened with a little yellow and orange.

"This is one of my favorite things in the room," said Paola, rolling open a barn door to show a closet outfitted for storing the boys' jackets and art supplies.

More space for putting things away is in a well-padded bench against a turquoise accent wall facing the living room; it opens to reveal cubbies for shoes. A three-section hall locker in the garage holds Matt's and the boys' sports equipment.


In the family room, a white beachy-look cabinet hides electronics for the TV, and a wall panel controls lights and a ceiling fan. Adding to the look are a deep, watery turquoise accent wall and an abstract print of the shore. Matt's old skimboard hangs above the fireplace.

With the kitchen and adjacent family area heavily used, the couple wanted both to be especially child-friendly. The boys are 11 and 8.

"Morning happens. Snack happens," Paola said.

Luxury vinyl tile that resembles weathered wood and a five-piece charcoal-gray sectional in a stain-resistant weave make the family room a place for easy cleanups. The area rug recalls the one in the living room, but in muted turquoise shades.

"These are what we use for snacking and drinking," said Paola, pointing to marble-topped C-tables that can be moved around. "The boys put them where they want for snacks."

Two rectangular ottomans, identical to the two beneath the living room windows, serve multiple purposes.

The family area opens to the deck, making for a perfect summer party space.

"It's great. ... There's plenty of space, " Paola said.

The eat-in kitchen features a round, engineered quartz table, surrounded by four faux-leather chairs in teal.

"We have to be realistic with our design: It doesn't stain," Paola said.

The spacious kitchen is about to get a face-lift. The wood cabinets will be painted white, the island cabinets gray. New counters are under consideration.

The sophisticated arrow-shaped dining room has the home's deepest moldings. Framing the 6-foot-high windows are faux silk drapes, teal on top and gray below the chair rail. Above the chair rail, walls are a rich gray — allowing two abstract ocean prints and a distressed sun-shaped mirror to stand out — and below they are a cream tone.

The walnut-topped table, which seats eight, has a user-friendly UV triple-sealed surface that is water- and stain-resistant. For comfortable seating, Paola chose custom host and hostess chairs in a gray pattern; the others are substantial high-backed chairs in gray leather.

Upstairs, the boys' bedrooms have nearly identical basic furnishings of sturdy, dark-wood bureaus, open-shelf desks where they play video games (homework is done downstairs), woven wood shades, and wall-mounted wire bins and racks. Walk-in closets provide storage.

"We wanted their rooms to last through their teenage years," Paola said.

But there are differences in color. The locker-style chest in one room is blue, the other red. One room is blue-gray, the other bluer. And each boy filled his room with his own games, books and the like.

In their methodical way, the couple is eyeing future projects, including decorating the master bedroom suite, updating the bathrooms (only the main level's powder room got a full face-lift) and tackling the semifinished basement, which includes a guest room.

"This is a dream home for me," Paola said. "We are comfortable here. We are using our home."