Home Home Decor This Couple’s Reno Mistakes Only Add to the Charm of Their 19th-Century House

This Couple’s Reno Mistakes Only Add to the Charm of Their 19th-Century House

by Monika Bürger

When Havenly’s vice president of creative and design, Shelby Girard, and her architect husband, Christopher, started hunting for a weekend escape from Brooklyn, upstate New York was at the top of their list. Little did they know that multiple offers would fall through and that instead, they’d come across a gem in Connecticut: a Colonial in Fairfield County, built in the late 1800s, that was once a carriage house. “The great combination of country and convenience sold us,” says Girard, despite the fact that the place was in need of a lot of cosmetic updates.

Shelby Girard white kitchen
Pendant Lamps, Arteriors; Stools, France & Sons.

Take your seats. Our bar stools, made with durable steel and vegan leather, will breathe new life to any kitchen or dining area. Pull them up to a counter at your home bar or use them as a stylish alternative to dining room chairs.

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Shelby Girard- Kitchen
Jute woven rug, Dash & Albert.

The kitchen was their top priority—and the most challenging and time-consuming project, as they tackled most of the work themselves. (They had done the same for their first home together in Denver.) “We spent hours mulling over details, like how to build out a nook for our fridge; what kind of stone to use on the countertops; and whether to do upper cabinets, floating shelves, or on-counter cabinets (we chose the latter),” recalls Girard. As for where they landed on the other debates, the couple went for custom refrigerator fronts—Semihandmade’s Shaker doors with a coat of Clare’ No Filter paint—so that it would blend with the staircase, and topped IKEA kitchen cabinets with a crisp slab of marble.

Express your style all over your home with a feature-worthy rug. They’re made from a woven, polyester chenille for a soft and textured look. Plus, choosing from our wide array of designs, you’re sure to find just the rug to match your decor. Rugs are one of the best, attention-grabbing pieces to design a room around. Use the colors within the rug to help choose art prints, furniture fabric and accent pillows.

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My common refrain when we mess something up is: ‘It adds character!’”

The mudroom also needed love. It had an awkward concrete ledge around its perimeter and dated pink ceramic tile all over. “We wanted the room to feel more functional without changing the foundation,” explains Girard. They built a ledge on one side to disguise the bump-out and paneled it to match the original woodwork in the kitchen. On the other side, a wall of IKEA’s Pax wardrobes corrals coats and shoes.

Tiles, Zio & Sons + Clé; Console, CB2.

A black and white zellige tile floor, another DIY, creates contrast without leaning too contemporary. “I love the raw, rough edges of the tile and how it’s a bit imperfect—it instantly felt worn in and appropriate for the history of the home,” says Girard. Almost too much so: “We used a premixed mortar that didn’t take to the tiles very well, so we had random tiles popping up for weeks after the installation.” Luckily a little glue did the trick.

Our Framed Canvas Prints add an extra touch of refinement to our gallery-quality canvases. Select from four different frame colors: black, white, maple or walnut to suit your decor taste and show off your favorite artists’ designs. Framed canvases are available in seven different sizes.

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Sofa, CB2.

The floors in the sunroom, which came with the house, got an upgrade, too. Clean white tile blends right in with the walls, freshly coated in Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. During meetings, Girard enjoys moving between her adjacent office and the light-filled space. “It’s screened in so it’s really where we hang out most during the warmer months,” she points out.

Our floor cushions are the super comfy and style-forward option for outdoor seating. They’re UV coated to protect against fading and water resistant so you can avoid scrambling to bring them inside whenever there’s a touch of weather. Grab a few to have on hand whenever seating is hard to come by or for a fun option for kids to use out in the yard.

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Mirror, RH; Rug, Dash & Albert.
white living room and white chandelier
Chandelier, Williams Sonoma Home; Coffee Table, Lemieux et Cie; Shearling Chair, CB2.

When it’s chilly outside, the couple spends time with friends in front of the living room’s fireplace, which they loved from the get-go. “We just patched it and painted, and did the same for the molding,” says Girard. The flooring there, however, wasn’t as simple. A tight timeline required an on-the-fly stain choice. “When I saw them finished, I panicked, as they didn’t look exactly how I had pictured them,” she recalls. Reassurance only came once the furniture was moved in and everything jibed easily.

Add throw pillows to whatever room needs an extra dose of comfy. Individually cut and sewn by hand, each pillow features a double-sided print and is finished with a concealed zipper and faux down insert. Keeping an assortment of throw pillow designs on hand is the easiest way to give any space an instant refresh. Available in four sizes.

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wooden dining table and chairs with brass chandelier
Chandelier and Dining Table, RH.

While doing most of the labor on their own was a huge save, the duo splurged on some of the foundational pieces that would get a lot of use, mainly the extra-cushy sofas in the living room; the cozy sectional in the TV room; and the dining table, handcrafted from multiple layers of solid oak.

Our floor pillows are the perfect pick for seating in a pinch. They’re overstuffed and firm to never lose their shape and the high-quality print makes sure the design stays crisp and colorful. Available in round or square, with two size options.

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Sofa, Six Penny.

Rather than going for a classic New England aesthetic like a lot of homes in the area, Girard opted for a more European approach, mixing old and new, rustic and refined. “The style I landed on is warm minimalism–meets–modern château,” she explains. Adding in jute rugs, wood accents, warmer whites, and rattan details softened the modern lines of the furniture and a neutral palette that might otherwise feel too pristine or precious.

Cozy up with our unbelievably soft throw blankets. Crafted with sherpa fleece, these blankets actually get softer the more times you wash them. Coordinate with throw pillows and rectangular pillows for whatever nook needs a little extra dose of comfy. Available in three sizes.

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Linens, Cozy Earth; Bed Frame, Pottery Barn; Nightstands, RH Teen; Bed Lamps, RH.

However, Girard still remembers that one week when they encountered three separate leaks, forcing them to tear up freshly done drywall and newly fixed floors: “In one day, we had water pouring out of the ceiling where we had just installed our dining room chandelier, a pipe in our basement broke, and we discovered a leak under our kitchen floors where a nail had been lodged into a water pipe.” But those delays are just part of the house’s story now.

It’s easy to get lost in sleep in our warm yet lightweight comforters. Colors pop on this bedding staple and they will surely be the focal point of your bedroom’s decor. Choose from either synthetic microfiber or our natural fiber cotton. Available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen and King sizes.

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Sofa, Six Penny.

Dress up your duvet with our eye-catching duvet covers. These ultra-soft duvet covers feature sharp, vivid prints on the front, with a crisp white on the back. Choose from either synthetic microfiber or our natural fiber cotton. Available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen and King sizes. Duvet insert not included.

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Sofa, Six Penny.

We learned a lot along the way, ate a lot of takeouts, and certainly made some mistakes, but the great thing about an old home is that everything is a little crooked and a little beat up,” she says. “My common refrain when we mess something up is: ‘It adds character!’”

Our shower curtains are the perfect focal point for any bathroom with our artists’ array of eye-catching designs. Hookless and extra long, these curtains will surely fit in any bathroom setup. Plus, they’re machine washable to avoid any soap scum or buildup.

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