Logistilla Soline February 27, 2021 Home Design
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.
When Samantha and Jonah Arcade and their two daughters outgrew their previous Brooklyn, NY apartment of six years, they never imagined they’d find room to breathe in a brownstone that was just 12 feet wide on each floor. But with Tirzah, 8, and Delaney, 4, a 1,000-square-foot home “wasn’t cutting it,” Sam admits. So about nine months ago, the family of four took a chance on a 1901 landmarked brownstone in need of a full renovation — from top to bottom, all four floors.
While the bones of the home were heavenly (while sitting in the living room you can look up and see all the way through the cupola) the style felt a little more like a lodge than a home. So, the timbers and doors and windows were all painted white (Benjamin Moore “Linen White”), in a terrifying process using plywood sheets and ladders to reach the some 40 feet up. Iron balusters were updated with steel cable and tempered glass. In Betsy’s studio, she took the dark green former stables and painted everything white and added casements under the window to allow for more natural light in the somewhat cave-like space. The last vestige of the lodge feel for Betsy and Peter is their fireplace, and because of the scale, it will take a while for them to figure out what the perfect replacement will be. While the open spaces were something Betsy had dreamed of, and one of her favorite features, they do create the design challenge of being able to see everything from one end of the house to the other. Betsy had to make sure when she was designing the space that everything felt cohesive. Scale is also a key design element in their home — pieces that once felt huge in their last home were now dwarfed in the massive barn house.
Image above: Sarah put together her half of the office in a fit of energy over the course of one day. Since they can’t paint their apartment, Sarah relies on punches of color, such as the “Oh What Fun!” art she found at a thrift store. “It says how I feel about my work.” The desk was cobbled together with IKEA pieces. The chair was a gift.
“While the renovation added many new features and opened up several spaces to create a better flow, the design was simultaneously careful not to overwhelm or compromise the spirit of the historic features,” Sarah says.
The Olmsted family has no shortage of interests and activities they like to partake in; for Betsy it’s design and art, gardening (their neighborhood allows for supporting local farms and produce, too), yoga, and scoring vintage finds. Peter’s work is in energy policy and he is an advocate for sustainable energy and enjoys cycling and outdoor adventuring. Their seven-year-old, Emmett, loves nature (especially rocks and fossils at the moment) and animals. Last but not least, Wells loves track suits, costumes and his favorite gold high-tops. We can only imagine how much fun this family will have creating art and memories together in this inspiring space.
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