Design Lab

For Catherine and John Adcox, creating home interiors is an ongoing scientific experiment

By Kristy Woodson Harvey
Photographs by Bert VanderVeen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The house that Catherine and John Adcox share in Irving Park looks like something out of a storybook. With a white brick exterior, pale blue-gray shutters, a manicured garden and an idyllic picket fence, it is, in a word, charming. It’s the kind of place that you know people are lined up for, just waiting for it to go on the market.

Only, the Adcoxes weren’t among those waiting. They’d already contracted to buy the house next door, planning to undertake a complete renovation once their house down the street sold.

And yet, when the home belonging to Bradshaw Orrell and Douglas Freeman, both celebrated members of the interior design and art worlds, came up for sale, they did the most dangerous thing two people who are not intending to buy a house can do: They decided to “just look.”

I probably don’t need to tell you what happened next. John says, “We knew it was perfect as soon as we walked inside.”

While the couple had spent months planning their renovation on the house next door, they knew that, with their son, John Ross, not yet 2-years-old, and daughter, Peyton, a busy and bustling 9, moving into a house that was already finished to their standards would be far, far easier. “From the marble in the kitchen to the grass cloth with pagoda detailing in the powder room, it matched our aesthetic down to the last detail,” Catherine says.

The Adcoxes purchased the home immediately. From masterfully opening the floor plan to improve the flow to renovating the kitchen and bathrooms, Orrell and Freeman had already done most of the dirty work. The Adcoxes converted an upstairs storage room to a fun playroom for their children and made the outdoor space more of a dining than living room for entertaining three seasons of the year. “All we had to do,” John recalls, “was furnish and decorate and make the house work for our family.”

That was a task lovingly — and easily—undertaken by the Adcoxes, who conveniently own SOURCC, an interior design studio for, in the words of the couple, “people who are passionate about decorating their own spaces.” Now operating in 13 cities across the country, SOURCC says one of its real measures of difference is having a staff member who can help homeowners bring their visions to life by assisting in the curation process, providing scaled floor plans and design boards — all free of charge — and then ordering their items for less than retail or online prices, in most cases. From residential to commercial spaces, model homes to clubhouses and lighting packages, the couple and their cross-country team dove headfirst into the idea that there were people like them who wanted to decorate their own houses but needed a little help. “It has been such fun to watch the company grow so quickly,” Catherine says.

It was also incredibly convenient, when the couple went to decorate their new home, that their Irving Park headquarters boasts hundreds of designer fabrics, wallpapers, trims, finish samples, and luxury furniture and lighting catalogs typically reserved for those in the trade — all available to the public. “It’s a veritable playground for design lovers,” John confirms.

And it became the playground for the couple as they began their decorating journey. “We chose comfortable upholstery in performance fabrics and tailored slipcovers that could survive daily life with kids and two dogs,” John says. Then the couple layered in family antiques and favorite furnishings and accessories from their previous house to create the feeling that its interior had been collected over time.

“What we love most about the house,” Catherine adds, “is that it works just as well for a cocktail party with 100 guests as it does for our family of four on any given Tuesday night. It lives well and it entertains well. It’s hard to find a floor plan that does both so perfectly.”

As Catherine’s cousin and someone who has had the pleasure of attending a High Point Market or two with John and Catherine, I knew as soon as I stepped through the front door that this house was them. More important, it was their family. With a floor plan that strikes the perfect balance between open and intimately closed, it is filled with plenty of welcoming spaces for everyone to spread out, a one-of-a-kind brass stair rail, enviable architectural details and design elements that the couple loves. But, as you can imagine, the owners of a successful interior design company change their minds about what they love quite a lot.

Their friends joke that visiting the Adcoxes is like a scavenger hunt to find what is different.

“We are constantly reinventing and changing, using our house as a canvas to experiment with looks that we ultimately incorporate into client projects,” Catherine says.

“It’s like our version of a scientist’s laboratory,” John adds, laughing.

A beautiful, well-curated scientist’s laboratory.

As for the future, well, a design enthusiast’s work is never done. The couple hopes to add a pool and pool house to their backyard one day, once the swing set, ride-on toys and soccer balls have gone by the wayside.

“There is something magical about sparkling water reflecting the light at an evening party,” Catherine observes.

But the good news is, they have plenty of time. Will this be their forever home? I can’t help but wonder.

“We love our house and couldn’t be happier here,” Catherine says. “We feel completely settled and at home.”

Catherine and John turn to each other and smile, and I recognize it, that twinkle, that unmistakable feeling that, for the design lover, there will always be another renovation to tackle, another home to breathe life into. At that, John verbalizes what I have just felt pass between them: “But forever is a long time.”  OH

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the founder of the blog, Design Chic (mydesignchic.com) and the author of three novels, including Slightly South of Simple, published earlier this year by Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.

Frills and Spills: Family-Friendly Decorating Tips from the Adcoxes

• Upholstery textiles are important. Choose durable fabrics that are rated as “performance.” This will help keep spills from becoming stains.

• Don’t overlook slipcovers as an option. Even if you don’t like the shabby chic look, there are lots of great upholstery lines that offer well-tailored slipcovers that look like upholstered furniture. You can easily create a sophisticated space that’s entirely washable.

• “We recently covered some beautiful antique dining chairs in a faux leather/vinyl. The result is a chic dining room that wipes clean with soap and water after family meals.”

• “It’s OK to have nice things with kids. In fact, we encourage it. Teaching them to appreciate and care for quality items in your interior from an early age definitely takes more work, but pays off in the long run. We hope we are bringing up children who will have an appreciation and respect for great design and beautiful things — and who know that a glass without a coaster does nothing good for great-grandmother’s side table.”  — K.W.H.

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