“10 Months of Insanity” Totally Worth It for This Family Dream Home

So says mom of five Jamie Fink. Check out her fun, functional redo.

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"We designed the house intending for us all to hang out together."

You could say that an eye for decorating runs in her genes. Jamie Fink, a second-generation interior designer, saw a diamond in the rough as soon as she stepped into the 1960s Colonial while house hunting in Brookfield, WI. “It was a drab, time-warp disaster in brown, brown and more brown,” she says. “But I knew instantly it was perfect.”

Jamie and her husband, AJ, had barely closed on the property when they began knocking down walls and tearing out carpeting, installing hardwood and tile floors, and painting every wall and ceiling white. It was an enormous undertaking, but a little less than a year later, the couple moved into the home of their dreams—bright, airy, clean and cheery.

The formal dining room and kitchen were completely reworked to create a series of open spaces that flow into one another. That layout is ideal for Jamie, AJ and their kids—Sophia, 13; Etienne, 11; Charlotte, 8; and Laurent and Nicasio, both 5—to hang out and cook together, which is something they do a lot. Every week they invite relatives and friends over for Finky Friday, an evening of food and fun. Guests can spot a personal touch in every corner and on every shelf—from the vintage fairy prints passed down by Jamie’s mom to the African artwork that reflects Charlotte and the twins’ heritage. “Everything is a true reflection of who we are,” says Jamie. “I didn’t want to just redo a house—I wanted to create a home.”

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“Our lives are pretty chaotic, so I wanted the sunroom, where the kids sit and read or we all just talk, to be soothing and comfortable,” Jamie says. “Decor can be distracting, which is why I kept it to a minimum. It’s a space where you can take in nature.” Jamie used three different shades of Benjamin Moore paint (China White, Pure White and White Dove) on the walls, ceiling beams and window trim to create a subtle sense of dimension. The sofa has a removable slipcover that can be thrown in the washer—a lifesaver in a house with lots of kids and pets.

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Jamie and AJ removed a wall in the formal dining room so that it opens up into the kitchen, where they redesigned the footprint and built a huge island with a prep sink that makes entertaining easy. Stain-resistant and easy to clean, the quartz countertops look like marble but don’t require special maintenance.

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The kids can do homework and crafts projects on the generously sized trestle table, which seats 10.

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A console displays meaningful finds, including pottery picked up in Ethiopia, where some of the kids were adopted. Scoring a replica gramophone for $30 at a Restoration Hardware outlet was lucky since AJ is a musician.

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To create a timeless retro look, Jamie chose black-and-white flooring and white subway tile in the shower. She modernized the space with champagne bronze hardware and fixtures for the boys’ and girls’ sinks. “With five kids, I wanted both function and a fun, appealing aesthetic,” Jamie says.

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The eclectic mix of pictures, textures and patterns in Charlotte and Sophia’s room lends a bohemian feel. In lieu of lamps, Jamie installed sconce lights, which can’t be knocked over and leave more room on the nightstand.

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Sheer curtains provide privacy but still let sunshine flood the space, and they’re a nice complement to bamboo shades. The white wall unit and desk provide a perfect backdrop for the fuchsia chair, Turkish throw pillow and kilim rug.