Family creates a colorful, creative home in Robins borrowing colors from former home in Florida

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When you drive by the home of Paul and Maria Sanchez-Masi in Robins, you might expect it to be much like the other homes on the block: a lovely two-story with a three-car garage on a corner lot in a family-friendly neighborhood.

But once you step inside, you’ll quickly realize that the Sanchez-Masi home is one that brims with activity, creativity and color.

“It was all grayish when we moved in,” said Maria Sanchez-Masi, who knew she wanted to cover the walls with bright colors as soon as they made it their own.

And they did just that after moving into the home in January 2007 when they relocated to Iowa from Florida for Paul’s job with Transamerica.

“My mother jokingly asked if I really liked Florida, or if I just like Florida colors,” Maria said. Either way, the Sanchez-Masi home is not so much tropical as it is homage to the bright and relaxing colors you’d find in homes along the Florida coast.

For instance, the couple painted their bedroom — a deep and rich teal blue — and the nursery — for their then infant daughter — bright pink alternating with brighter pink stripes. The main floor laundry room also is energetic pink.

“As the main laundry-doer, I got to choose the color in there, she said.”

But it took a little time for Maria to decide on a color for the spacious first-floor living space, including the family room and eat-in kitchen. She finally settled on a peachy coral color that unites the rooms.

“It’s the best thing we ever did,” she said of the coral paint. “It’s so homey, and I love it still. It’s cozy in the winter and really bright in summer. Plus, the white trim looks so good with color,” she added. “They aren’t lying when they say that paint is the cheapest way to transform a space.”

It’s in the family room and kitchen spaces that you get a sense of how the Sanchez-Masi family — with now 11- and 7-year-old children and dog, Cleo — enjoy their home.

“This is where we really hang out,” she said, pointing to the kitchen and its generous two-tiered island. “It’s the heart of the home. We are here on the main floor all of the time.”

Along one wall are several desks and a vintage hutch — which Maria thinks was purchased with green stamps by her husband’s family — creates an impressive craft zone adjacent to the kitchen table.

“This is where you’ll find the slime station,” she said, noting that crafting is a major element of the family’s lifestyle. “I want my kids to grow up in a place that is not precious,” she said. “I’m a messy crafter, so we have a place for messy crafting. You can really live in this house.”

The main floor also includes a hallway running from the kitchen to the garage in which they created a well-used “drop zone” space for storing shoes and hanging backpacks. It gains its personality from the gallery of family photos hanging above. The other artwork in the home reflects Maria’s desire for vibrant colors and images to make their home feel like home, each piece a conversation starter.

“I like cityscapes, and Paul likes landscapes,” she said, explaining their eclectic collection hanging on the family room wall. “We just buy what we like, and we find that in doing that it becomes a cohesive collection.”

In the kitchen there’s framed artwork made by the couple’s daughter (in kindergarten at the time) next to strikingly similar artwork created by Maria when she was the same age. At the top of the staircase, there’s a painting of the family’s home in Florida, a nod to the inspiration for the home’s decor. There’s also an artistic unicorn here or there, simply because Maria “loves them so much.”

The other thing you will find all over the house is Legos — lots and lots of Legos. There are many in the play zone basement — which is painted a cheery yellow. There are Legos in their son’s superhero-themed bedroom. There are Legos in their daughter’s bedroom, which is the only room in the house with white walls.

“It’s more of a teenage room now,” said Maria, noting that they recently redecorated the room to her daughter’s liking. “I think she likes the white background for photos, and she has some ideas we are still working on for pops of color. It’s her space now, and she is growing into it.”

Even though they have been in the home for more than a decade, Maria said in some ways they still are growing into their house, too.

“We came from a small, 100-year-old home before this. I didn’t know what to do with all this space. When our friends from Florida visit, we are showing them our closets and our storage space,” she said.

The couple were drawn to the home’s open floor plan since they first toured it.

“We walked into the house and thought it would be so great for having people over,” she said. “The funny thing was we knew two people when we moved here so we needed to make some friends.”

Now, they are happy to entertain friends, but they also have realized their home’s layout is a perfect fit for at-home time with the kids in all its creative and colorful glory.

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