Saratoga designer dishes on how to create elegant, kid-friendly spaces

According to Beverly Tracy, of Beverly Tracy Home Design in Saratoga Springs, integrating kids into
Interior Designer Beverly Tracy in living room area with bright colors at the home of Dr. Damon and Jennifer DeTeso in Saratoga.
Interior Designer Beverly Tracy in living room area with bright colors at the home of Dr. Damon and Jennifer DeTeso in Saratoga.

Your home isn’t a museum — it’s a place where you and your family live, play and eat together. Messes, spills and scratches will happen, especially when kids are involved. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create an elegant space, complete with beautiful things.

According to Beverly Tracy, of Beverly Tracy Home Design in Saratoga Springs, integrating kids into more formal spaces is not only possible, it’s functional.

The mother of two teenage sons, Tracy knows firsthand how messy a home can get. “We’re the house where kids pile in, or the entire football team shows up,” she said. “So I’m very sensitive to the fact that we don’t want to create houses that families can’t live in.”


“Our goal is to make homes where families can feel comfortable — homes that are practical and beautiful at the same time.” No more plastic coverings or adult-only rooms.

While giving a tour of a recent design overhaul at the Saratoga Springs home of Dr. Damon and Jennifer DeTeso, Tracy pointed out a gallery wall with baby photos and kiddie artwork tacked up in the kitchen.

“Already upon entering, you know there are kids here,” she said. “You know there’s a lot of life going on around here, because it’s full of color and energy.”

But it’s equally noticeable that the design veers towards the sophisticated, which is exactly what Tracy intended.

With two children, aged nine and 10, and two cats, the DeTesos needed a home where every spilled juice box and scratch wouldn’t lead to heartbreak. They needed kid-friendly, but Jennifer DeTeso didn’t want to sacrifice on glamour. It was a matter of accommodating her formal taste, while still accommodating for a family, Tracy said.

Enter her secret weapon — fabrics treated with NanoGuard technology, which not only makes them extra durable, but stain repellent. “Liquids and spills will just bead off,” she said. It works on most fabrics — even velvets, silks and linens—so her clients can choose whatever speaks to them. In fact, the DeTesos chose all three for their main living spaces, and opted for plenty of velvet.

A catch-all entry bench done in chartreuse silk with blue piping holds up against soggy gloves and slickers, while a dining set done in the reverse, featuring bold blue textured velvet, stands up against food splatters. And yes, kids are not only allowed in this dining room, they’re welcomed. The space serves as a great spot for art projects and homework help.

“We chose things that are easily cleaned and wiped off,” Tracy said, so the DeTesos still have the style they dreamed of, minus the worry.

To up the wow factor, Tracy used plenty of gold, a trend she’s relieved has come back into fashion: “There’s been this return to elegance, and people are finally embracing gold again.”

Specialty gold-flocked wallcovering, as well as metallic accents, a chandelier, classic bar cart and golden-hued 100 percent silk shades, lend that extra bit of luxury Mrs. DeTeso was craving.

“You know you’re in a place that’s got that touch of glamour, but it’s not uptight,” Tracy said.

A healthy use of color livens things up even further, and makes a space feel more approachable, even exciting for kids—hence the bold blues and greens, perhaps best showcased by an overdyed cobalt rug in the dining room.

“People have lived without color for so long,” Tracy said. “Remember those grays and muted tones? Now they want color in their lives again.”

Having grown up near Cape Cod, Mrs. DeTeso gravitated toward blues and greens, hoping to bring a bit of that relaxing, beachy feel to Saratoga Springs. “These colors make Jennifer feel good,” Tracy said — which is what design is really all about.

Tracy incorporated those same colors, but in lighter shades, throughout the rest of the downstairs space to tie everything together.

Faux-leather stools in a pale aqua shade make a breakfast bar truly functional. “You can literally use Fantastik on them and not worry about it,” Tracy said.

The same goes for the eat-in kitchen. Four chairs upholstered in the same faux leather, which has been treated to repel stains and germs, surround a sturdy table, chosen because it will stand up against daily abuse. “They wanted something usable, where dents and scratches wouldn’t be an issue,” Tracy said. It has since become a favorite homework spot.

A patterned rug in blues and whites further defines the space, as does a playful print of flatware.

“Anything to be different,” she said. “Again, this space is not uptight at all.”

Beauty and elegance meet out of necessity in the living room, which doubles as a family room and play space.

“Cozy and glamorous is hard to achieve, but I think it worked out really well here,” Tracy said.

Powder blue velvet ottomans, blue linen window treatments and a patterned accent chair, continue the color theme, while setting off a gray velvet sectional.

Tracy admits that last choice might seem rather daring, but when the velvet has been treated, it becomes a luxe, yet practical option. Velvet is not only warm, it’s cozy, she said.

Which makes it perfect for Saturday movie nights, as the family of four can snuggle up together under some throws, with their feet propped up on a velvet ottoman.

“Everything we used has that NanoGuard technology,” Tracy said. “You can put your feet up on that coral ottoman — or even a tray of chips and salsa.” Although the color is an eye-catcher, it’s not just for show.

Throughout the main living space, Tracy intentionally designed with family time in mind, including elements that would naturally draw the DeTesos together. “Everybody’s so busy these days, that it always seems like we don’t have enough time to spend together,” she said. But laying a space out in the right way can help.

For instance, a gold sofa table with a pair of ottomans tucked underneath, doubles as a work space for Dr. and Mrs. DeTeso, who can tackle things on a laptop while their kids watch TV or read. Anyone working in the kitchen has a clear view of what’s going on in the living room, so kids can be monitored during meal prep.

But the space is also playful. Tracy chose a loud fabric for a pair of custom bean bag poufs, which can easily be carried around during playtime. “These kids just love these,” Tracy said. “They can jump on them and move them anywhere they want.” A chest situated to the left of the sectional keeps games and toys out of view, and a small table nearby is perfect for puzzles and coloring.

Involving your kids in the overall design is definitely worth considering. A great way to do that is with artwork, Tracy said. “In today’s world, you don’t need to make a big investment. I love getting a blank canvas and letting kids get creative.”

By surrounding yourself with things that are both precious to you and real, you help make your house a home, Tracy said.

But it’s also about creating a living space that does what you need it to do, and fits your family’s personality at the same time. “It’s a matter of finding things families can use and live with,” she said.

“Things that work well and are comfortable, not stuffy.”

“After all, these are homes, and people should use and enjoy them.”

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