Family Room

With a mix of cool and warm colors and rustic textures, designer Brian Patrick Flynn creates a charming first home for his younger sister Meg.

Organic reach. Search engine optimization. Cost per click. Geotargeting. Who or what do these terms have in common? My digital-savvy little sister and me, that’s who. Although we’re eight years apart (sometimes nine, depending on the month), my little sister Meg and I have always been more like twins. We both speak faster than the guy who does the Jimmy John’s commercials; we were always the awkwardly tall kid (with awkwardly large teeth) in the center of the back row in class pictures; we unabashedly judge people by their grammar; and the interwebs play a key role in both of our professions, although she’s a social media manager and I’m an interior designer.

Over the past eight years, our seemingly divergent career paths have collided on multiple occasions. When she graduated from the college of journalism at the University of Florida in 2007, Meg interned for one of my best friends at the Georgia Aquarium, drafting website content and coordinating news segments.

Shortly thereafter, when I decided to publish my entire body of interior design work in the form of a blog, I tapped her for help editing my posts. When social media became the biggest thing since the Jonas Brothers, kale chips or quinoa, she consistently weighed in on the importance of a clearly defined writing style, SEO, key influencers and the best (and worst) Instagram feeds to follow.

So when she bought her first home, a 750-square-foot, two-bedroom, top-floor unit in a historic building in the heart of Virginia-Highland, it was natural for me to take the reins for the remodeling and interior design. My signature colors are black, dark green and navy, but my sister loves all things bright and coastal, so I had to check my bag of dark color tricks at the front door.

Just hours after she signed her closing papers, I dispatched my go-to flooring expert to brighten the wood floors with oil-based floor paint in a high-gloss white finish—and promptly started the Flynn version of World War III. Outlandish, impractical, cold and sterile—these are just a few of the words lobbed at me by every family member who heard about my “crazy idea” to paint Meg’s floors white.

But Meg gave in and has been obsessed with the floors ever since. Just a day or two after the floors dried, my painting and wallpaper team covered the home floor to ceiling in shades of blue-grey, light aqua and coral, an extremely complicated color that also happens to be her favorite. Bygones.

From the kitchen counter to the walls of the master bedroom, the space is packed with one-of-a-kind finds from antique stores, regional artisans and her adventures around the globe. At the heart of the space are handmade frames featuring photographic evidence of days spent rafting through the Grand Canyon, surfing in Nicaragua, paragliding in Switzerland, on safari in Namibia and shark diving in South Africa, to name a few. And yet the same girl who literally came nose-to-nose with a Great White shark was downright petrified to commit to a wallpaper print. Finally, her excitement piqued over Tulsi Block Print in coral for the bedroom and Taza in aqua, both from Thibaut. Using pattern helped the modestly sized rooms feel larger and more memorable than the tiny, beige boxes with which we started.

Perhaps the biggest win from this endeavor? Her 8-year-old vizsla, Huckleberry, has yet to leave a mark on those “outlandish, impractical” white floors. Win.

INTERIOR DESIGN Brian Patrick Flynn; Flynnsideout Productions.