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Sugar and Spice

A cozy home with easy between-room movement is ideal for entertaining

Written by Amy Elbert
  • Tria Giovan

    Snow isn’t guaranteed, even in the  heartland state of Indiana. But everything else about Annette and Mike Davis’s family holiday is nearly Christmas-card perfect: Four beautiful daughters ages 5 through 15, a caroling party with Mike playing the piano, a gingerbread house the grandparents helped make, and an evergreen-bedecked home ready to welcome a host of friends and family.

    The secret to such a blissful scene? For Mike’s musical talents, thank his mother, a concert pianist who insisted her son learn to play. For the house, Mike and Annette bow to Atlanta-based interior designer Suzanne Kasler, who created a flowing floor plan and—perhaps most important—gave each daughter her own bathroom. (Nothing shatters peace on earth like siblings sharing a bathroom.)

    Although Mike is in the home-building business, he admits he was not in a rush to build. He and Annette owned a wooded lot on the north side of Indianapolis for eight years before breaking ground. "We had two kids when we bought the lot, but we weren’t ready to build," Annette says. They lived nearby in a 1960s ranch-style house, and after the birth of their third daughter the family was feeling squeezed. "The house was getting too tight," Annette says. "We needed more bedrooms and wanted a better flow for entertaining."

    Photography: Tria Giovan
    Produced by Betsy Harris

    Interior design: Suzanne Kasler, Suzanne Kasler Interiors, 425 Peachtree Hills Ave., #21B, Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/355-1035,
    Architect: Kenneth E. Rich, AIA, Kenward Architectural Studios, 425 Peachtree Hills Ave., #21C, Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/814-0277,
    Kitchen design: Kristin Okeley, CKD, Kitchens by Design, 1530 E. 86th St., Indianapolis, IN 46240; 317/815-8880.
    Landscape design: Alex G. Michaelides, Land Plus Assoc. Ltd., 416 E. Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta, GA 30305; 800/948-2420,
    Contractor: Mike Davis, Davis Homes, 877/669-3284,
    Floral design: Tim Kelley, Palmer Kelley Designs, 317/876-4600.

    Sofa; upholstery; pillows: Nancy Corzine, 212/223-8340,, trade only.
    French chair: Jane Marsden Antiques & Interiors, 404/355-1288.
    Upholstery (by Manuel Canovas): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900,, trade only.
    Cocktail table: Dennis & Leen, 310/652-0855, 310/652-0855, trade only.
    Drapery ("Rainbow Silk’’ #5191): Rose Cumming, 785/434-2777,, trade only.
    Painting; fireplace screen: owner’s collection. Man Jerry Pair & Assoc., 800/367-7247, trade only.
    Wall, trim and ceiling paint (‘‘Bone White’’): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.

  • Tria Giovan

    For the Davises, two themes dominated: They wanted a cozy house, one that also would allow for easy movement between rooms. "We like to entertain, but we have four daughters and needed a family house, too," Annette says.

    Wood siding, a cedar-shake roof, and butter-yellow shutters fastened with wrought-iron hardware set the stage of the exterior. "They wanted an American classic house, with a bit of an East Coast feel," Kasler says.

    A front porch furnished with inviting wood rockers was inspired by the family’s frequent summer vacations to a lake home in northern Michigan. Tennessee fieldstone accents the porch foundation, the garage, and other areas of the house, giving the structures a rock-solid, established feel.

    "The thought process was to design a house that looked like it had been there a long time—that it was just added on to over the years," architect Kenneth E. Rich says.

    In the family room, shown here, Kasler introduced strong camels and warm red tones. "Annette really loves color," the designer says. "You can bring a lot of different colors into a home if you start with very neutral backdrops."

    The room, with two comfortable sofas, double ottomans, and a cozy fireplace, is an ideal spot for gathering to watch evening television shows.

    Sofas: Nancy Corzine, 212/223-8340, trade only.
    Pillows on sofa: Ainsworth-Noah, 800/669-3512, trade only.
    Ottomans (custom): Suzanne Kasler Interiors, 404/355-1035.
    Sunburst mirror: The Stalls, 404/352-4430,
    Floral chair fabric: Bennison, 011 44 207 730 6781, trade only.
    Drapery ("Mission Cloth’’/Lettuce #92508-02): Rogers & Goffigon, 203/532-8068, trade only.
    Carpet: ("Square Play’’/Wheat) Stark Carpet Corp., 212/752-9000,, trade only.

  • Tria Giovan

    Mike and Annette Davis and their daughters—Mary, Hannah, Caroline, and Emily—on the wide staircase in the gracious 16-foot-square foyer, whose black-and-white checkerboard floor is made of marble.

    During the holiday season, the foyer is put to work as an overflow dining room when the Davises host their friends for an annual Christmas dinner party. "Probably our favorite night of the year is right before Christmas when we have six families with all their kids for dinner," Annette says. The adults sit down for a formal dinner in the dining room and the kids eat at tables temporarily set in the foyer.

    After dinner, everyone sings Christmas carols with Mike accompanying on the grand piano in the living room. "Mike loves playing all the Christmas songs," Annette says. "It’s a family tradition that everyone looks forward to."

  • Tria Giovan

    One side of the foyer opens to an elegant dining room with an ornate crown molding and wainscoting painted crisp white. Robin’s-egg blue walls match the wide stripes on the room’s silk draperies. "The dining room is a bit formal, but still dressed down with the linen chair covers and antiques," explains Kasler. The sisal-style rug also contributes to the casual side of the mix.

    Table: Holland & Co., 800/446-5526, trade only.
    Sideboard; mirror; painting; candlesticks: homeowner’s collection.
    Chairs (customized by Suzanne Kasler Interiors): Louis J. Solomon Inc., 212/545-9200,, trade only.
    Chair-front fabric: Henry Calvin fabrics, 888/732-1996,, trade only.
    Chair-back fabric ("Rollins Stripe’’/Aqua): Travers, 212/888-7900,, trade only.
    Chair trim ("Beauvais Ribbon #258): Hyman Hendler & Son, 212/840-8393, trade only.
    Wall paint: custom mix. Trim paint ("Linen White’’): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
    Ceiling paint (discontinued): Ralph Lauren Paint, 800/379-7656.
    Window-treatment fabric ("Rolling Stripe’): Travers, 212/888-7900, trade only.
    Chandelier: Ainsworth-Noah, 800/669-3512,, trade only.
    Sconces: Niermann Weeks, 212/319-7979, trade only.
    Vases; silver trees: Mecox Gardens, 800/487-4854,
    Carpet: Merida Meridian Inc., 800/345-2200,

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    Mercury-glass candlesticks and greens in a silver punch bowl adorn the dining-room table.

  • Tria Giovan

    Annette’s collection of whimsical MacKenzie-Childs dinnerware, cookie canisters, and serving pieces sparked the kitchen design. Two islands painted a kiwi green repeat hues in the dishes and also those in the fabric window treatment. Walls in the kitchen and the adjoining breakfast room are painted with wide stripes in a soft shade of green.

    Kasler incorporated MacKenzie-Childs tiles into a backsplash above the range and interspersed them with off-white tiles on the counter backsplash. Although the tiles add splashes of color, Kasler purposely limited their use. "I wanted to make the kitchen timeless, so it wouldn’t get dated," she says.

    Cabinetry: Dutch Mills Inc., 574/533-0388.
    Granite countertops: Tremain, 888/549-8453.
    Paint on island: custom mix.
    Range; ovens: Viking Range Corp., 888/845-4641,
    Faucet: Whitehaus Collection, 800/527-6690,
    Decorative tile: MacKenzie-Childs Ltd., 212/ 570-6050,
    Chandeliers over island (Solaris): owner’s collection.
    Bar stools: Ressler, 212/533-5750,, trade only.
    Bar-stool fabric: Henry Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996, trade only.

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    Emily and Mary put the finishing sweet touches on a gingerbread house at one of the kitchen's two marble-topped islands.

  • Tria Giovan

    A late-18th-century Swedish triple-back settee sits at the end of the bed in Annette and Mike’s master suite.

    Bed; chair: Patina Inc., 800/635-4365,, trade only.
    Bed linens: Parkside Linen, 317/844-6320.
    Bedside chests; lamps; mirrored table: owner’s collection.
    Bench: Jacqueline Adams Antiques, 404/355-8123.
    Bench fabric ("Adagio Stripe’’/Aqua): Kravet, 888/457-2838, trade only.
    Drapery ("Ballarat’’/Pongee): Beacon Hill, 800/333-3777, trade only.
    Paint ("Linen White’’): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
    Carpet: Fabrica Fine Carpet & Rugs, 800/854-0357,, trade only.

  • Tria Giovan

    nterior designer Suzanne Kasler

  • Tria Giovan

    The Davis girls: Emily, 15, Hannah, 13, Caroline, 9, and Mary, 5.