Photography by Emily Dorio

Published on July 15, 2021

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For Atlanta-based designer Kate Hayes, one of the cardinal rules of dreaming up a family home is not forsaking the younger members of the household. “It’s important to me that the kids—like the parents—have a space that is representative of their personalities and needs,” says Hayes, who brought that “All for one and one for all” rallying cry to a recent project 20 minutes outside of downtown Atlanta.

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The sophisticated yet fun property is HQ to three kiddos, ranging in ages 8 to 14. Tasked by the trio’s parents with transforming a slice of the home into a veritable teen dream—think: a movie zone, game room, and outdoor area that gives everyone some extra breathing room—Hayes got to work alongside teammate Krista Sharif on a design that melded casual comfort with grown-up accents.

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“When working on a kids’ space, one of my go-to strategies is mixing color and pattern in unusual ways,” says Hayes, who carried a palette of blue, ochre, olive, and black throughout the design, from the sleek cabinet fronts on a built-in to the durable and modern wood floor, painted to match the ceiling of the same shade. A Louis Poulsen pendant light brings levity, suspended next to a custom sofa by Björk Studio (upholstered in an indoor-outdoor Swiss cross fabric from C & C Milano) that’s layered with quirky pillows. Nearby, a Ducaroy leather floor chair creates a loungy spot and earns points for both form and function. “It’s a three-kid household, so they live hard,” says Hayes. “Everything needed to be tough but pretty.”

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For more cues on how the space should function, Hayes went straight to the source, incorporating the younger generation’s requests and interests (the two boys are big into sports, while little sis prefers competitive gymnastics—and all three love battling it out over board games). A gallery wall of photos depicts the family of five on various adventures together; lacrosse sticks piled high in a basket have a second life as decor; and even a color-blocked cabinet boasts a hidden door that can close off the area from the neighboring family room, giving the kids a chance at the autonomy they will one day soon crave.

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“I’m big on establishing that sort of human respect with children,” says Hayes. “To me that door says, ‘You deserve your own space.’ It’s a subtle design feature, but it speaks volumes—though I did joke with the homeowners that we totally just gave their kids the perfect makeout zone in a few years!”

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The quieter nook flows into the ping-pong zone, a central hub illuminated on two sides by floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors (and sweeping overhead lights by Cedar & Moss). The versatile table, designed by District Eight, doubles as a dining surface for postgame pizza hangs and is accompanied by a fluted Hancock Fine Furniture credenza that stashes away everything from Pictionary to a mini fridge stocked with drinks for fueling another round of pong.

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Outdoors on the patio, Hayes took inspiration from boutique hotels in Los Angeles and Palm Springs to create a chill area for everyone to enjoy one another’s company while doing their own thing. A basketball half-court (where the oldest son can flex his lax skills) neighbors an open-air cooking zone, complete with a dining table, refrigerator, and Big Green Egg for nightly grilling. Close by sits the backyard’s crown jewel: a towering brick fireplace awash in an inky charcoal hue that mirrors the home’s exterior, surrounded by a few heated chairs by Galanter & Jones.

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“Time together as a family is the biggest gift, and it was our goal to give these clients the perfect place to do that,” says Hayes. In a feat that no parent should take for granted, the kids would have to agree, too.

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