By Jennifer Shapira
Growing up in Richmond, Elizabeth Lucchesi was the last in line of her four siblings. That meant she watched as her mother reimagined and redecorated every other sibling’s bedroom at age 10 before Lucchesi had her turn. Lucchesi, an Alexandria-based real estate agent, passed on that same tradition to her two children, Jim, 12, and Harper, 11.
In honor of their 10th birthdays, she enlisted the help of designer June Shea, who had previously completed a number of other projects in the family’s Del Ray home. “Miss Shea the house fairy,” as the children had playfully dubbed her, had already waved her magic wand from room to room. But this time, Lucchesi let her son and daughter lay it all on the line. She gave them the opportunity to have their likes and loves translated into and onto their own four walls, just as her mother had done for her.
For hands-off Jim, that simply meant all things outdoors. For hands-on Harper, that meant sitting down to a working lunch with Shea.
Until age 10, “they were truly living in little kid’s rooms,” Lucchesi says. “And I’d just noticed that as they’ve gotten older we needed to use their personalities to personalize their spaces. My mom did it for all five of us, and I thought it would be a fabulous tradition to pay forward.”
The inspiration for Jim’s room was the picturesque setting of a family fishing and camping trip to Ontario. Shea had a wall-size photo mural made that is a perfect likeness of that spot in nature, complete with a lake surrounded by tall pine trees. She scored a carpet that evokes a stone riverbed as well as an Adirondack chair and matching side table for Jim’s reading nook. Shea hung drapes from thrift-store fishing rods and found a canoe-shaped bookcase. “The whole idea was to make it seem like he was out fishing,” says Shea. “And she nailed it,” says Lucchesi.
Harper had big ideas of her own. Their lunchtime design consultation proved fruitful: Harper’s bold color choice emerged, and together the design duo browsed websites and pinned paints and patterns. Working with a palette of orange, blue, pink and green, Shea scouted an old farm table, spray-painted it orange and repurposed it as Harper’s desk. Shea tracked down a turquoise mock-1970s swivel chair, painted the ceiling orange and added two bedside tables so Harper could keep her knitting and crochet hidden from the family’s three dogs.
Lucchesi says her opinionated and meticulous daughter had a few other requirements. Harper needed maximum hangout space on the floor, so much so that she wanted a space-saving wall-mounted headboard, and decided the closet was the fitting place to house her dresser.
“She drove it,” says Shea of the room’s transformation. “I just added a few embellishments and pulled it all together.”
That said, Shea was careful to choose furniture that would age with the siblings. “My rule was to give them a room that represented age 10 but would also carry them off to college. It needed to be a look that wasn’t going to look juvenile when they got to be seniors in high school. And both of those rooms fit that bill.”
Years from now, the furniture that skews younger will get swapped out, and the paint colors can be neutralized for a guest room or a study.
But for now, what do the kids think of the finished products? Jim is the envy of all his friends, and Harper, Lucchesi says, “Oh, she just loved it.”