A Toy Designer Turns a Glover Park Home Into a Kid-Friendly, Colorful Escape

“Look Inside My Home” is our series where we peek into the homes of Washingtonians. Want your house featured? Email [email protected] 

Chloe Varelidi is the CEO and founder of Follies, a design-oriented line of children’s toys, as well as the founder of Humans Who Play, a design studio that focuses on play, education, and technology.

She lives with her husband, Francesco, and her two children, Nefeli and Leonidas, in a three-bedroom, three-bath, contemporary-style Glover Park home.

The couple purchased the home about a year ago, and have been updating the place with a relaxed, Scandinavian-inspired feel. Since Varelidi has been a play designer for over a decade—and was an architect before that—it makes sense that her home has plenty of colorful, whimsical touches.

Here, we talk to Varelidi about designing a room for kids, making her own art, and her favorite home splurges.

Kitchen chairs: M.A.D. Furniture, kitchen table: Floyd Home, hanging lamp: Crate&kids.
Kitchen chairs: M.A.D. Furniture, kitchen table: Floyd Home, hanging lamp: Crate&kids.

What was your inspiration for the home’s aesthetic?

“The home used to be rented to the Finnish Embassy, and it had a little bit of a Scandinavian ’80s vibe to it. I wanted to keep the clean lines of the house, but (unsurprisingly for a play designer, I guess) also add playfulness and color. Because color can overwhelm the balance in a house, I approached this vision room by room. For example, I knew that the kitchen is one of our family’s most popular rooms, and I wanted it to feel clean even when it’s messy. I did this by choosing white and pink neutrals for the working surfaces and cabinets, but also incorporating primary pops of color like yellows and reds on the walls so that it feels inviting and inclusive for our two young kiddos.”

Couch: Joybird, rug: West Elm, white chair: Article.
Couch: Joybird.
Green lamp: Hay, white chair: Article.

What’s the biggest splurge you’ve purchased for your home?

“Our couch was definitely one of our largest splurges. I call it our ‘Covid splurge,’ because after living in a tiny condo with two young kiddos and a small couch that was visibly very used by said kiddos during Covid, we were ready for something that was big, comfortable, and easy to clean. We also fell in love with the color, as we wanted our living room to echo some of our Mediterranean summers with olive, sand, and blue tones.”

What’s your favorite part of the house?

“I love hanging out next to the windows in our living room; it’s my little nook where I can catch up on emails or read after a long day and enjoy a glass of wine with my husband. It’s also where I have all of my favorite art—some lithographs from Greek artists.”

What was the best deal you’ve received on an item for your home?

“We moved around Thanksgiving, so we got many of our appliances via Black Friday deals.”

Dining room table: Castlery, art: custom by Varelidi, chandelier: Cedar & Moss.

Any DIYs in the house that you’re particularly proud of?

“I made a few custom art pieces for our dining room that I’m proud of. I wanted something for the walls that’s playful, but also a bit sculptural and can change if we get bored of it. This piece works like a puzzle, and you can rearrange it every time you feel like a change. It features acrylic and wood, so it also has an elegant, modern presence to it.”

Bunk bed: Oeuf NYC, wallpaper: Smallable, toy: Follies.
Toy: Follies, wallpaper: Smallable.

How did you go about designing the kids’ room? Did you work with them on the design? 

“My children share a room, and we had promised them when we moved that they would get a bunk bed. So the room is pretty much designed around that piece of furniture. It has a beautiful window looking into the garden, so I wanted to highlight that with wallpaper. The kids chose the wallpaper design, and it’s a great way to frame the window and add playfulness and a little bit of depth to the room.”

“My own goal with their room was to maximize play and floor space, so we did some work to have as much built-in storage as possible, as well as versatile furniture that can be used for books, toys, and displaying their art. There are, of course, plenty of Follies pieces in their room, too.”

Chair: Anthropologie, bed: West Elm.
Bed: West Elm.
Chair: Anthropologie.
Chair: Anthropologie, bed: West Elm.

What’s your favorite item in your home?

The red tiger armchair in our bedroom. It just brings me so much joy to wake up and look at it every day, even when it’s covered with clothes (much to my husband’s dismay).”

What’s your favorite thing to do in your home?

“I love cooking or playing with the kids in our kitchen.”

Who would your top three dream guests be for a dinner party at your home?

“It’s hard to pick just three! I‘d say Frida Kahlo, who inspired my latest Follies set, my grandmother Maria, who raised me to go after my dreams, and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, who is pioneering a new path for entrepreneurs to do business while also doing good.”

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian

Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.