Jennifer Hauser Runde spent her early career as a choreographer, channeling her artistic talents into stories told through dance.
But after Runde and husband Christopher welcomed a baby boy in 2006, and purchased their first house soon after, she happily shifted her priorities.
Life was less about dance steps than baby steps — especially when their second son was born.
"Spending hours a day at home with our two boys inspired me to think about the space as more than rooms that I clean and work in," says the 33-year-old Runde, whose family lives in a Perry Hall subdivision. "I wanted to make our home look beautiful and also create spaces that functioned with style and ease."
So the Goucher College graduate, who had studied liberal arts, decided to learn the art of decorating. She completed courses online, earning the title of certified interior decorator.
Three years ago, Runde launched J. Lynn Interiors, which she runs from her home.
Today, the wife, mom and business owner brings her eye and experience as a choreographer to her decorating and design projects.
"Creating and decorating a space to achieve a feeling or mood is much like creating a dance," she says. "Both combine a knowledge and understanding of space, color, pattern and lighting to make a final, harmonized product."
Runde has tried to incorporate that philosophy into her family's home — a two-story Colonial with four bedrooms and 31/2 baths, encompassing some 2,700 square feet.
The first level includes a spacious kitchen, formal living and dining rooms, family room, sunroom and powder room.
Upstairs, there's a master bedroom with a walk-in closet, two more bedrooms and another that has been converted into an office.
Each room resembles a de facto design lab, and is filled with a bevy of concepts and decorating ideas.
"I think it's everyone's dream to have a house that's finished, without any problems," says Runde. "One where you can enjoy every room. It makes you happy."
Runde and her husband love their home and have transformed it into a casually chic showplace, but it took plenty of effort. For starters, the couple had to work around what Runde described as certain "cookie-cutter" elements in the original house.
"It had a really nice layout, but it was boring and had no character," she says. "We decided to make changes. That's where the fun started."
Thus began a series of renovations and mostly cosmetic updates.
Early on, the couple replaced some of the carpeting and hired a contractor to put down honey-brown hardwood floors.
In the kitchen, "there was a great island," says Runde, so that was kept intact. But they upgraded the laminate counter with granite, made the backsplash more interesting with tiny gray tiles and replaced the standard white appliances with stainless-steel ones — including a double oven "because we do a lot of entertaining." There's even an eye-catching set of stools that conjure pots and pans.
In the family room right off the kitchen, a faux stone wall was used to create a focal point and add some texture. It was a do-it-yourself project, completed in a weekend.
"Other than the floors, we did most of the work ourselves," says Runde, adding that she and her husband gleaned some tips from watching "Extreme Home Makeover" and other television design shows. "I love to try those ideas. Some are easy. And it's amazing what a difference they can make."
Runde favors a neutral color palette, beginning with the walls. In the kitchen and bedrooms, for instance, she used Benjamin Moore's "Shenandoah Taupe" shade. The sunroom is done in "Dusty Road' — an ivory shaded with a faint tinge of pink. Her office is light khaki — a shade known as "Putnam Ivory." Grass cloth wallpaper covers part of the formal dining room.
The subtle hues provide a fitting backdrop for mostly traditional furniture. Runde has made use of bold graphics, patterned fabrics such as houndstooth, and textures — be it leather or a nubby white linen-blend sofa in the living room.
Added to the mix are a host of eclectic accessories that give each room character. There's a sisal rug, zebra print pillows, reclaimed wood, wrought-iron and rustic "barn chic" pieces, such as a blacksmith sign and equestrian images. Fine art on walls and carefully chosen knick-knacks line shelves. The family room has antique shutters and a barn door snagged on Ebay, alongside contemporary track lighting and a flat-screen TV.
"We've done the house slowly," Runde says, noting that she splurges occasionally but typically shops around for good deals. "I do enjoy discoveries. I believe in getting the most bang for the buck."
To that end, she's a fan of recycling furnishings and covering them with slipcovers. Or buying fabric, and making drapes.
Runde's mother, Beverly Hauser, "hadn't sewn in years," but now they work closely together. "We love finding old pieces and giving them new life," Runde says.
The effect is a home with panache but solid enough to withstand two energetic little boys. The rooms of Chris Jr., 5, and Will, 2, don't feature overt kiddie motifs, but they do have flair. There's a safari scene, for instance in one room, and earthy red and brown stripes in another.
"I believe you can have kids and still have a nice home," says Runde, who is teaching the boys not to jump on things. "I also try to use family-friendly fabrics."
Runde's decorating prowess has been recognized. In 2008, her sunroom was the winner of Better Homes and Gardens decorating prize for "Our Favorite Room." She won a $3,000 gift certificate for furniture and, of course, bragging rights.
There's no time to rest on her laurels, however. The master bedroom, remains a "work in progress," and with the holidays here, Runde brought in several Christmas trees and stylish decorations.
"Our home feels like home — it's not cookie-cutter," she says. "It's not grand, but it is the best it can be."
Show us your favorite space
Everybody has a favorite space, and we want to see yours. We want to know more about your best rooms, renovations, upgrades, additions and interior design projects. Whether the space was a product of your sweat equity or you let the pros do all the heavy lifting, we want to know what inspired you and how you did it. Our goal is to create a place where others can gain inspiration — or merely take a peek at what the neighbors might be up to.
From time to time, we will select some of the most beautiful or interesting and unique spaces — like Jennifer Hauser Runde's Perry Hall home — to feature in the "At Home" section or on our website. We've created a "Show Us Your Space" page at baltimoresun.com/athome, where you can upload photos and descriptions of your favorite room or space. To submit your space, go to baltimoresun.com/athome and upload a picture and description in the "Show Us Your Space" photo gallery. You can also email your photo to email@example.com. There is no deadline.