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Elizabeth Foy Larsen envisions her Mediterranean-style house as a kind of decorating workshop where whimsy and practicality meet. "I grew up in Minneapolis with a combination of formal and '70s groovy aesthetic," she says. "My mom had a fantastic eye and loved color."
Taking a cue from her childhood home, Elizabeth freely mixed styles and patterns, contemporary pieces with thrift shop finds. Friend and design pro Janet Gridley steered her toward unique wallpapers, fabrics and accessories. "She knew my style enough to recommend a chandelier made of coffee filters for the dining room," Elizabeth explains. "I like things that are a little goofy." Janet also helped source wallet-friendly items like a pair of reupholstered junk shop tub chairs for the living room and a dining table from Ikea. Elizabeth and her husband, Walter Schleisman, did most of the painting, but she credits sons Peter, 14, and Henrik, 11, for taking charge of their spaces. "I think kids should design environments they like and be creatively independent," says Elizabeth, a writer who devoted a chapter to the subject in her book Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun. "They just have to stay within a budget." Daughter Luisa, now 9, was too young to prove her decorating chops when the family moved into the house in 2006. But she's sure to get the chance when she takes over Peter's room after he goes off to college.
Elizabeth and Walter, with Henrik, Luisa and Peter, relax in living room. Splashes of yellow, orange and blue throughout the house pick up the colors in the prints on the wall, bought at a local gallery. Elizabeth found the mirrored coffee table in a Wisteria catalog.