Damien Eugénie January 27, 2021 Home Design
Image above: “We are lucky that only a few families lived here before us, which is pretty [remarkable] considering she’s not a young house — part of the demo included removing gas lamp infrastructure,” Sam says. “And while we’re not the first family in Brooklyn looking to maximize square footage, when you’re working with just 12 feet across it takes on a whole new meaning.” By opening up the stair wall, Sarah was able to elongate the home’s design and make the space feel much larger. Chairs upholstered by Studio Four in their teal Jackie fabric, with Flock‘s Northmore Minor Teal fabric on the back.
It would be the perfect home for Sarah were it not for the fact they can’t have cats. “I have offered bribes and contracts and everything I can think of to our landlord but we just can’t have a cat.” Luckily, Cat Town Cafe, America’s first permanent cat cafe, is within walking distance. It also happens to be one of several non-profit groups where Sarah has volunteered her design work. Other than the lamentable absence of a cat, I can imagine that an ideal evening would be spent in Sarah and Matthew’s gorgeous home, listening to their records, sipping Matthew’s flawlessly mixed cocktails, all while coveting that unbelievable crown molding. And, of course, toasting Sarah on her courageous and inspired decision to reimagine her life.
Betsy and Peter Olmsted share their home with their two boys Emmett (7) and Wells (4), as well as Winnie the mature-madam shepherd mix, Hank the French bulldog, and Archer the leopard gecko. Their home was originally a Victorian carriage house and barn that was used for three neighboring mansions, built in 1890 when it also had three deeds. The 5,400-square-foot home was created from the converted spaces in 2008, and the Olmsted family moved in and made it their own a year ago. The downstairs features an open plan, their den, and the attached stables that became The Betsy Olmsted Design Studio — Betsy’s namesake textile company, Betsy Olmsted, which features a line of printed vibrant watercolor infused textile housewares with her whimsically sophisticated illustrations (which are heavily inspired by animals and nature). Upstairs you’ll find more open spaces, three bedrooms and baths, a study, and even a screened-in sleeping porch.
And comfy it is. The living room is the most inviting space to unwind and imbibe in style. “Matthew has been writing about booze and drinking culture for 14 years (culminating in his book You Suck At Drinking) so we have to have a good bar!” They also have a side table in the living room with whiskey on it for those occasions when they are “too lazy to get up and walk to the bar.” Contentment, Sarah reminds us, is often found in the small, thoughtful details.
If you could completely reimagine your life, unbeholden to your past, what would it look like? When Sarah Reid’s son Zane turned 18, she experienced a “what am I doing with my life?” moment. She’d been working in non-profit administration but had always wanted to do interior design for spaces that served low-income communities. Thus was born her business, Small Victories Design. A move from Massachussetts to California facilitated this transformation. In the move, Sarah left behind thrifted finds that filled her attic, basement, and garage. As a “borderline hoarder,” leaving them behind proved difficult. But in having the courage to let go of one incarnation of herself (and most of the objects that made up that life) she embraced another.
One of the things that makes family heirlooms so special are the stories they collect over time. Objects give us the ability to recall adventures that have been told and retold, or spark the memory they carry. Cherished items often cross oceans, countries, and generations to create their stories, probably with a few scratches and bumps along the way. It’s as if these treasures traveled down the branches of our family tree and ended up in our living rooms.
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