For our second annual Real Simple Home, we gathered a talented crew of designers and organizers to create a functional family space full of inspiring ideas. Come on in and take a tour! 

By Stephanie Sisco
September 06, 2019
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Christopher Testani

For the 2019 Real Simple Home, we worked with some stellar designers and organizers to transform a townhouse in Brooklyn, New York into a beautifully designed (and exceptionally organized!) family space. The best part: the entire house is full of inspiring design ideas and organizational strategies you can bring into your own home. To get a look inside every single room, take the virtual tour, below, and watch the 360° video tour here. See a sofa you love or a piece of art you can’t live without? Shop over 250 products from the home.

For the best experience with the Real Simple Home 360 video, click and drag within the frame to view the entire room. To start and stop the video, double-click within the frame. If you're having trouble viewing the video, please click here.

This year, we followed the designers as they made over their rooms from start to finish. Learn more about the designers, then click through to their videos to see a sneak peek of their design process and some of the DIYs (trust us, you won’t want to miss the bedroom’s stunning feature wall). 

If you live in the NYC area or are planning a trip, buy tickets to tour the 2019 Real Simple Home in person! You’re sure to bring home tons of inspiring ideas for your own space.

Christopher Testani

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Living Room

Designer: Anita Yokota Interior Design

When combined with white walls and plenty of natural light, dark furniture doesn’t feel heavy or overbearing. Organic pottery, interesting textiles, and raw wood elements soften the sleek lines of the furniture and frames.

Rule of Thumb
The center point of a gallery wall should be about 60 inches high. Generally, the width of the collection should not extend past your end tables.

Christopher Testani

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Smart Surprise

Keep the TV hidden in plain sight. When you’re not streaming your favorite series, this unit transforms into a piece of art.

Christopher Testani

3
Back Patio

Designer: Anita Yokota Interior Design

Make your outdoor area extra inviting with comfy cushions that can be swapped out as styles change. Weather-resistant furniture is key.

No Lawn? No Problem
Planter boxes filled with hearty grasses and flowering perennials immediately liven up the look of any exterior hangout spot.

Flexible Furniture
Lightweight, stackable seating can be moved out of the way as needed.

Christopher Testani

4
Entryway

Designer: Stephanie Sisco

Make a compact entrance work better with an all-in-one organizational unit that has slots for shoes, hooks for coats, and a mirror for one last look before heading out the door.

Fake a Built-In
Paint your walls and baseboards the same color as your storage unit to make it look like a custom piece.

Christopher Testani

5
Laundry Room

Designer: Stephanie Sisco

Give this workhorse space floor-to-ceiling functionality along with a dose of personality to make it blend with your home’s decor.

Use Every Inch
In a tight laundry room, a stackable washer and dryer unit allows for more vertical storage space alongside the machines. Keep ironing supplies on a mobile cart that can be wheeled in and out as needed.

Christopher Testani

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Ideas to Imitate

1. Display supplies
Decant items you reach for often into clear jars so you can easily see when it’s time to restock. Leave detergent up high and out of kids’ reach.

2. Consider finishes
Bring some pizzazz with a funky light fixture and energetic piece of art. Warm decor can make chore time feel a little more enjoyable.

3. Maximize wall space
Mount a pull-out drying rack and hang handled cleaning tools on an otherwise unused wall.

Christopher Testani

7
Kitchen & Dining Room

Designer: Cortney Bishop Design

A rich and playful palette in the dining room balances out the clean lines of the kitchen.

Open Living Space
This kitchen is situated between the dining and living rooms, so Bishop chose to keep it relatively neutral so as not to distract from either space.

Keep Clear
Countertops should remain uncluttered so they can function for meal prep and serving without much rearranging.

Christopher Testani

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Ideas to Imitate

1. Lower your light
Create an intimate setting with a low dining table fixture. Keep the bottom of the light 32 to 36 inches above the tabletop so it doesn’t obstruct your view.

2. Shop vintage
When buying antique pieces, prioritize interesting legs and hardware, says Bishop. That way, no matter what color or stain you may add, it will still feel one-of-a-kind.

3. Round it out
A circular table and rug keep this dining space casual; plus, there’s more room for foot traffic to flow through the open floor plan.

Bonus: Play with pattern
Request swatches of wallpaper and fabric you’re considering to see how they will work together. “The smaller the print, the easier it is to mix with other prints,” says Bishop.

Christopher Testani

9
Multi-Purpose Room

Designers: Sherry and John Petersik of Young House Love

To ensure guests sleeping in a playroom don’t feel like they’re sleeping in, well, a playroom, balance youthful touches with a subdued palette and elegant (yet sturdy) details.

Order of Operations
Arrange accent pillows before hanging art to make sure the two don’t appear cramped.

Flexible Furniture
A daybed works as a couch or overnight crash pad, while a round drop-leaf table can be repositioned against a wall to create more oor space.

Christopher Testani

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Ideas to Imitate

1. Color code
Sort your collections by shade to make an open-shelving display a little more visually stimulating.  “It’s such a playful way for a child to feel that their interests are represented and that they’re stimulated,” says Sherry. “Shelves are basically a rotating gallery.”

2. Dial up the detail
None of the furniture feels too fussy or precious, but interesting elements (like turned table legs and X-back chairs) add to the nuanced, layered look.

3. Try layering tone-on-tone
A neutral patterned wallpaper gives the room instant dimension without being visually distracting.

Christopher Testani

11
Office

Designers: Shavonda Gardner & Carmeon Hamilton

A small space provides an opportunity to experiment with bold style. A striking paint color and floral wallpaper on the ceiling make this room instantly eye-catching.

Personalize Everything
No matter the function of a room (home office, workout area), don’t hold back on design. “Every square inch of your home should reflect your taste,” says Hamilton.

Curl Up
Layers of texture make you want to walk in and interact with a space rather than just look at it, says Gardner.

Christopher Testani

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Ideas to Imitate

1. DIY a design feature
Give dimension to your walls by adding picture-frame molding. The daylong project results in a sophisticated, glamorous feel. Learn how here.

2. Add drama
Like the night sky, a dark paint color can make a room feel infinite, says Gardner. Opt for a matte finish to hide imperfections in the walls, which may be highlighted by a glossier sheen.

3. Store strategically
Keep utilitarian items in bins on the bottom two shelves so they’re not in your immediate line of sight when you walk in.

Bonus: Look up
The ceiling tends to be an afterthought, but these designers saw it as a fifth wall that was begging for special treatment.

Christopher Testani

13
Master Bedroom

Designer: Mandi Gubler of Vintage Revivals

Tones and textures found in nature combine to make a sleep space that feels like a luxe treehouse retreat.

Make a Statement
Gubler and her husband, Courtney, created this focal wall by framing sheets of natural woven cane fibers.

Mix Master
Don’t be afraid to incorporate a variety of wood finishes. “The more you have, the better it looks,” says Gubler.

Christopher Testani

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Green House

Use plants to create a sculptural statement on the wall, or let greenery grow wild in a window.

Christopher Testani

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Closet With Character

Gubler DIY-ed a full-length mirror by hanging a pair of arched mirrors in opposite directions, with a pinewood shelf in between for practical storage. This and the banana leaf wallpaper make the dressing room feel ultra custom.

Christopher Testani

16
Kid’s Room

Designer: Emilie Munroe of Studio Munroe

“In a child’s space, it’s important to create a backdrop that is nimble and can grow with them,” says Munroe. The full-size furniture and black-and-white wallpaper offer a flexible foundation to build upon.

Contrast Trim
Painting a window casing a dark color draws the eye toward the window and highlights the view, says Munroe. She chose a charcoal shade to keep it from feeling too harsh.

Lighten Up
Lighting shouldn’t be an afterthought. Select statement fixtures that stand out against your decor.

Shape-Shifter
From afar, the wallpaper appears to have a linear pattern; up close, you notice the whimsical doodles.

Christopher Testani

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Ideas to Imitate

1. Mix and match
When mixing patterns, select pieces that are “similar but different,” says Munroe. If you choose the same pattern, for example, vary scale (as in the sheets and shams here) or color (like the rug and shams).

2. Express yourself
Create a spot for kids to showcase a rotating selection of their favorite artwork or family photos.

3. Appeal to kiddos
Blend a variety of colors and styles to make a space feel layered and approachable for little ones.

Bonus: Devise a peaceful nook
Create a cozy corner setup for reading, drawing, or pre-bedtime cuddles.

Christopher Testani

18
Rooftop Terrace

Designer: Paige Sumblin Schnell of Tracery Interiors

Weather-safe white furniture feels luxurious and keeps the focus on the surrounding views. Plus, nothing feels like it’s outdoor-only—everything could just as easily be used in your interior design.

Lounge Around
This comfy sectional comes in pieces so you can rearrange the components to suit your needs.

Unique Seat
A hanging chair serves as a more modern substitute for a hammock—bonus points for being easier to get into and out of.

Room With a View
On a rooftop, keep tall elements to a minimum so you don’t block the scenery.

Christopher Testani

19
Squeeze In

Bench seating prevents the dining area from feeling too formal and allows for more guests at the table.

Christopher Testani

20
Storage & Organization

Organizers: Molly Graves and Ashley Murphy of Neat Method

With smart strategies in place, the utility closet, fridge, and pantry will keep the household humming.

Shelf Smarts
Clear bins are crucial in a utility closet because they allow you to take stock at a glance. Stash your most reached-for items at eye level.

Christopher Testani

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Weekly Touch-Up

Do a quick clean-out when you bring home groceries to make sure leftovers are still fresh. Stock the shelves like a store, placing the newest items toward the back.

Christopher Testani

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Ideas to Imitate

1. Label everything
Mark every storage bin and shelf space with exactly what should live there so everyone in the house knows where to nd what they need (and where to put it back).

2 Create zones
Arrange pantry items by category within labeled baskets (like “baking” or “breakfast”). Seeing all the ingredients you have helps prevent overbuying.

3. Leave room
Don’t pack any storage space too tightly—a bit of breathing room will make it easier to find things. And remember: Fridge shelves are often flexible, so adjust them to suit your storage needs.

Courtesy of sponsors

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Our Sponsors

Courtesy of ADG

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Our Developer

Special thanks to American Development Group, LLC, the developer of the Real Simple Home.

See the space for yourself! On October 24, join our team of editors for a private tour of the show home in Brooklyn, New York, and get expertly curated home décor and organization tips. Click here to buy tickets.

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