The Klaibers’ home is nestled among the trees in a quiet and rustic Midlothian suburb. (Photo by Gordon Gregory)
Alisson and Nick Klaiber had very different childhoods, but when they discovered the wooded slopes of Midlothian’s Foundry Run, there was something about the neighborhood that struck a chord with both of them.
Alisson, who was born in the United States to French parents and who spent her childhood between Miami Beach, Florida, and Bondues, France, says the neighborhood immediately reminded her of the forests of Le Touquet, a town on the northern coast of France. Growing up, she spent her summers there riding bikes and building forts with her cousins in the woods. For Nick, who grew up in the Long Island suburbs, the neighborhood recalls the summers he spent roaming his grandparents’ property on the eastern — and more rural — end of the island.
The couple, both of whom are attorneys, didn’t yet have children, but they dreamed of one day providing them with the same sort of memories. “I remember that exhaustion [that came] with being outside all day,” Alisson says.
The Klaibers’ home looks like an extravagant birdhouse, nestled amongst the trees. The four-story, 2,800-square-foot house, with its cherry red exterior, sits on a steep hillside, above a gurgling creek. The creek is full of frogs and crawfish, and Alisson and Nick say they regularly see deer grazing along its banks. The view from their deck has turned them into birdwatchers.
The home, along with many others in the neighborhood, was built in the late 1970s. It’s got a circular stained-glass window on the front of the house and a California bathroom in the master bedroom. “They were popular in the 1970s,” Alisson explains. “You just kind of sleep and bathe in the same space. It was a bit too much for us.”
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The kitchen was renovated with entertaining in mind. Ceiling-height cabinets provide ample storage space and an extra-deep sink conceals dinner service for 12. The white-and-aqua palette lends it a Palm Beach-vibe. (Photo by Gordon Gregory)
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The home’s multiple levels are conducive to entertaining as the kitchen and dining area overlook the comfortable living room. (Photo by Gordon Gregory)
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Much of the bedding in the house is by Yves Delorme. Their factory is in Roubaix, France, near the town where Alisson grew up. On recent trips, Alisson’s parents have brought back linens for the house. (Photo by Gordon Gregory)
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The couple chose a Hygge and West wallpaper, “Serengeti,” for the walls of baby Mathilde’s room. The crib and changing table are from Target. The rocker is by Monte Design. (Photo by Gordon Gregory)
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“When I was growing up in Palm Beach in the 1980s and ’90s, the powder rooms were like jewel boxes,” Alisson says. “They were wallpapered on the walls and the ceiling. … It was so magical to me as a little girl that I wanted it in my house as an adult.” The Klaibers chose another Hygge and West wallpaper, “Daydream,” as an ode to the birds they watch out their windows. (Photo by Gordon Gregory)
The couple hired Tom Paul of Premiere Design & Construction to reconfigure the master suite. Alisson takes a bath every night, and when Paul proposed a floor plan that allowed for a shower while placing a freestanding tub front and center, the couple knew they’d found the right guy for the job.
After the bathroom was complete, Alisson intentionally neglected to hang window treatments. “People say it’s because I’m French but it’s really not,” she says. “The birds fly up to the trees right outside the window, and on summer nights, I take a bath and can see lightning bugs. You feel like you’re bathing outside.”
Renovating the master suite gave Alisson and Nick the confidence to tackle the kitchen and an adjoining powder room on the main level. “Our No. 1 goal was to make [the space] as light and bright as possible,” Nick says.
To let more light into the kitchen, Nick wanted to remove a wall, but Alisson was worried about losing storage. She was also concerned that, without the wall, guests would see too much kitchen from the living room when they entertained. Their compromise? An intelligently designed kitchen that manages to hide in plain sight though it is now open.
“Our No. 1 goal was to make [the space] as light and bright as possible.” —Nick Klaiber
To make the kitchen less noticeable from the living room, they selected bright white cabinets in a plastic veneer and white quartz countertops. Selecting a downdraft cooktop allowed them to avoid installing a big hood over the island. They also paneled their appliances and used as little hardware as possible, wrapping what hardware they did use in white leather. “We wanted to create the illusion of a wall,” Alisson says.
To make up for lost storage, they took the cabinets all the way to the ceiling, made them slightly deeper and added extra storage on the far side of the island. Their contractor also installed a sink big enough to hold dinner service for 12, so that on nights when the couple entertains, they can quickly sweep all the dirty dishes off the countertops and out of sight.
Alisson and Nick scarcely had time to enjoy the kitchen before embarking on their next project. A bathroom, a rec room and two bedrooms on the lower level had always needed attention, but now the couple had a very real deadline. They were expecting their first child.
Down came ’70s-era wood paneling and up went drywall. A new window in the guest bedroom invites in more light. Everything got a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting, and the bathroom got a complete remodel.
In July, Alisson and Nick brought baby Mathilde home to their birdhouse. Their dreams of one day watching a child play amongst the trees haven’t changed, but for now, the family is content to nest.