True Hues

Jenni and Chad Alvey employ carefully constructed color combinations in their home

By Jon Shoulders

For all its stylistic diversity, Jenni and Chad Alvey’s Johnson County home features a design and color scheme that takes inspiration from a single painting that adorns the first-floor wall.

After acquiring the home in 2016, the Alveys hired Susie Bibler, lead designer at Indianapolis-based Home ReVisions, who asked the couple what their most prized possession might be. Jenni immediately thought of a figure painting acquired on the streets of Paris, set in a frame once owned by her grandmother. Bibler suggested they use the style and color of the artwork as an inspirational springboard of sorts to set them on a design trajectory.

“It all started with that painting, which was hung in our old house,” says Jenni, who has worked at IU Health since 2011. “The tone of the home design and the way the colors all come together — we didn’t do any renovations to the house, but we repainted and did a ton of design, and everything in the house started with the painting.” 

An open floor plan, which allows those entering from the front door an immediate view of the great room, dining room and office area, presented Bibler with a challenge to create a seamless visual flow throughout the home built in 2008. It also features different wood types in the living areas, dining room and bedrooms, as well as separate granite styles in each bathroom.

“We needed to make sure that it all flowed very nicely and at the same time try to keep it from being too jarring,” says Bibler, who also helped in the design process of the Alveys’ previous southside residence. “So we have some color punches like the entry rug to keep the overall palette going with varying levels of blue shades and sea foam green, to keep it soothing and flowing well together.”

Bibler’s approach to color schemes initially left Jenni dubious, but soon she began to understand her designer’s grand vision.

“Susie would take a grouping of a certain color, like when you get a paint swatch where there are a bunch of different shades on it, and told us we should stay in that same color group and just use different shades of it,” Jenni recalls. “It’s something I never would’ve done, but it was a really cool way to help transition from room to room.”

On the home’s main level, deep teal dining room walls tie pleasantly into blue and white accents in the central living space courtesy of well-chosen china pieces on the fireplace mantel, throw pillows and an ample area rug. Warm tans and browns pervade the family room and kitchen, which features a spacious island, a butler pantry and a computer console above the stove that Jenni says comes in handy for kitchen homework sessions in the evenings with her kids, Annika, 10, and Grayson, 8, as well as traffic and weather checks during breakfast.

“Everything in our house is designed to be used,” Jenni stresses. “Susie makes sure she designs the rooms so you spend time in them and use them. She convinced me to use my dining room table from our old house, which had a lot of scratches on it. She just said to use it until it’s beat up and then replace it, because it’s a great table. We do a lot of homework with the kids in the dining room, and the drawers in there have been like lockers with the kids’ homework and papers.”

Both the main and lower levels have their respective areas for amusement — the main floor houses what Jenni calls the “slime room,” where Annika and her friends spend time with DIY slime-art projects and are allowed to get as messy as they wish (so long as they remain within the room’s confines, of course), while the lower level includes additional living space for entertaining as well as a theater room.

“We can entertain on either the main level or downstairs depending on how many people we have over,” Chad says. “Jenni has put on a pretty good Halloween party for the last couple years, and we have more than 70 people over, including kids. We can utilize all the levels for that so the kids can do their thing while the adults have a good time.”

Such flexibility was just what Bibler had in mind when formulating layouts for furniture and accent pieces.

“My biggest challenge is always figuring out how the family wants to live in the home, so I want it presented well but I also want it to work with the way the family uses the space,” she explains. “In this case, with two small children, we didn’t want the feeling of ‘you can’t sit here’ or ‘you can’t touch that.’ We went toward a family-friendly home that’s going to entertain others who also probably have kids.”

Both Perry County natives and Indiana University-Bloomington grads, Jenni and Chad have resided on the south side of Indy for the past 15 years and have come to appreciate Johnson County’s family-friendly qualities.

“We love the whole family atmosphere down here, and our kids do sports, including basketball and cheerleading,” she says. “Our kids are both established in Center Grove schools now. It seems like we’ve made so many friends that are parents of our kids’ teammates. It’s almost like our own little network of southside friends and families, which is really neat.”

Chad adds that Johnson County has benefits not only for himself, Jenni and the kids, but also for extended relatives when the time comes for visits.

“Both of our families are in southern Indiana, and it’s nice that they can just come up to the southside and not have to spend 45 minutes on 465,” he says. “We really like it here, and I don’t see us going anywhere, at least not for the entire time the kids are in school.”

These days, when Jenni looks at her Paris-bought painting in her grandmother’s frame, she’s proud not only of being able to display such a special family treasure, but also of what that treasure has inspired throughout her home.

“A lot of times people don’t know exactly what design they’re attracted to, but they do know something they already have that they love,” Bibler says. “You can take that and either use it for the color inspiration, or use it for some style inspiration — or both.”

Photo by Stacy Able