Home Work

A Madison interior designer takes her talents home for a creative and cozy family space

The living room at the Simpsons' home. See more photos in the slideshow below.

The living room at the Simpsons' home. See more photos in the slideshow below.


Organic, fresh and downright fun, the west-side home Carrie Simpson shares with husband Ira, son Aidan and pup Carly hosts a charming assortment of patterns and color—much like an extension of her Atwood Avenue store, Vault Interiors & Design. 

Simpson, who received a psychology degree from UW–Madison and an interior design degree from MATC, earned her stripes as an intern-turned-employee at Fontaine and opened the doors to her own shop in September. While she works with clients to fulfill their personal design wants and needs, she maintains her own distinctive taste—and it’s one she readily applies at home. 

The Simpson residence is filled with unexpected, but unquestionably ingenious, design choices. For starters, there’s the floor-to-ceiling cold-rolled steel fireplace mantle, contracted by Sweeney Construction, custom bent by Hooper Cooperation and finished with a coating by Sophisticated Surfaces LLC. The slick showstopper is flanked by a pair of walnut veneer built-ins that stretch across the space and serve as a resting place for family heirlooms and special pottery. A graphic rug in black and white paired with a blue jewel-toned sofa, made by the Straight Thread, pulls it all together.

“I like pattern and I like color. Someday maybe I’ll live in an all-white house, but this house just doesn’t say that to me,” says Simpson.

To maximize the home’s minimal natural light, Simpson gave the perimeter kitchen cabinets a fresh coat of paint and added an island with a quartz countertop to brighten up the food prep space. Ira, an Oklahoma transplant who became captivated by Madison while studying at UW, serves as the family’s head chef and selected the kitchen’s appliances. A favorite addition is a Kohler Karbon faucet with precision angles and a stick-operated handle reminiscent of a racecar.

“The layout of the kitchen, as it was, just was not usable for both Ira and me to be in there cooking at the same time,” says Simpson. “We wanted to open it up. We wanted more space for entertaining and just for the way that the three of us function in the house.”

Decorated deer sheds, insect art and a live edge dining table are a few of the styling selections that represent Simpson’s affinity for natural and found pieces. Salvaged goods, including a woven tobacco-drying basket from Montana and a century-old Mexican shutter picked up on a trip to Santa Fe, are used as artwork and add both a heft and history that the Simpsons adore.

“I’ve always appreciated homes that speak to the people who live there, even if it’s not my style. If it represents the people who live there, you fall in love with it.”

And you can bet that the Simpson family is in love.

Hannah Kiddoo is a writer formerly based in Madison.



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