Leonie Giulia February 27, 2021 Home Design
Dana McClure keeps her grandmother’s Chantilly Lace, along with other family heirlooms like this gold framed mirror, jewelry boxes and display trays resting on her great aunt’s Dorothy Draper dresser. “I never wear [it], but the smell brings me back to being six years old and playing dress-up in her bedroom.” This is her favorite spot in her New York state farmhouse to wind down after a long day and fill her heart with warm memories of her childhood.
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.
On the process of building their home, Vivian said, “The construction only took about one and half years, but the house site and design decisions took much longer. In the meantime, we sold our [previous] home in Oxford, MS and renovated the basement of the home already on the property, into an apartment and lived onsite while we developed our ideas for our home. The gallery apartment now serves as guest quarters and an Airbnb location. We finally settled on the old homestead site, but first had to remove dilapidated tenant shacks… Near the house is an old well that was hand dug by the first family on this property. One of the previous homeowners visits on occasion, and recently we learned he was a 12-year-old boy when he helped his grandfather hand dig the 30-foot well.”
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.
Sarah and her husband Matthew Latkiewicz, a television host, writer, and producer, arrived in Oakland with only what they could squeeze into their Honda Fit. This included Sarah’s grandparents’ coffee table, Matthew’s two favorite chairs, some art, and their clothes. After weeks scouring Craigslist and thrift stores, Sarah realized the best place for reasonably priced home goods was estates sales. “That is how the best stuff gets into the bloodstream of the Bay Area. That and the Alameda Flea Market.” From her estate sale and flea market explorations she began assembling a collection of what she calls “soulful objects.” It took about three years before Sarah felt like she had made a cohesive and comfortable space of their 1920s Art Deco apartment.
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