Natalie is a close friend of mine from Chicago who recently completed a big renovation – a gorgeous gut rehab of two floors in her home. I’m about to embark on a similar project, so was eager to hear details and see inspiration pics. I also asked Natalie about her bold, colorful chic style and loved what she shared there too… particularly about what she learned from Kate Spade. Enjoy!
Let’s start with your home renovation. Can you set the scene and share a few “before” photos?
Our house is a white 1920’s colonial, so it’s over 90 years old! It had only been through a few minor remodels and additions. There were no mechanical or aesthetic updates since the 1960s when we bought it, so it was dated. We did not even have a working oven. When we moved in, we were overwhelmed by immediate “had-to’s”, so we decided to forgo the big renovation for awhile. We had to convert claw foot tubs into showers (the house had 3 claw foot tubs and no shower!), expand the powder room so that you could actually sit on the toilet and close the door (sorry for the visual), replace the roof, add air conditioning, update electric, paint, and landscape. Just unsexy ways to spend money. We waited over 5 years to start the aesthetic renovation, and completed it in the spring.
“Before” Photos of Kitchen Area:
Agree that unsexy house money spending blows. Tell us about your recent, sexier renovation.
In hindsight, I’m glad we waited to do this big gut rehab for so long. By that point we had lived in the space and intuitively knew which layout would work best. This time around, we knocked out half of the 1st and 2nd floors. We moved stairs, bathrooms, and built a new garage.
“After” Photos of Kitchen Area (rest of house photos in sections below):
Gorgeous. What were your design principles?
It is an old and traditional home. Because we wanted to honor that, we opened things up a bit, but intentionally kept the rooms separate. For example, we enlarged the kitchen and expanded the opening from the breakfast area to the family room, but they remained distinctly separate rooms after the renovation.
My interiors style is layered. It’s colorful, bold, and not for everyone. I’m slowly filling the space with things I love. I have tons of seemingly random accessories that I have fun moving around. Everything I’ve collected – from art, to knick-knacks, to antique furniture – brings me memories. They take me right back to where I was when I bought the piece, who I was with, or which kid has since chipped it. I add to my home slowly and not with a whole lot of intention, because you never know what you are going to find and fall in love with.
It’s so true! We’ve been collecting a few things in France. Each one reminds me of a place of day I don’t want to forgot. I love your philosophy and will play it up with my husband who is allergic to knick-knacks. Can you tell us about some of your favorite pieces and why?
My husband Andrew once told me that when he was a kid, he watched the TV show Wheel of Fortune and never understood why the contestants didn’t choose the life sized ceramic Dalmatian offered as one of the prizes. After hearing that, I made it my mission to get him a ceramic Dalmatian. After several years of endless googling, we now have one and it might just be my favorite piece.
I also have a large vintage map that was on the wall at Jack Spade that was given to me when the store closed, so it has sentimental value. Other things I love …. my grandfather’s old secretary desk, a trunk from a great-great-grandfather with his name stenciled on the side, an oil painting of Andrew’s great-grandfather, a pencil drawing that an artist did of me from an event years ago at Louis Vuitton. I get attached to all of my random stuff…
Speaking of the Spades, you have an interesting work history (Natalie ran several stores for Kate Spade and Prada). How did those experiences impact the development of your interiors?
Kate Spade influenced my home style the most. Kate introduced me to the idea of a gallery wall and collecting vintage pieces that you love. We arranged flowers bi-weekly in both shiny new crystal and vintage eclectic vases, and we merchandised the store with these collected vases and objets. We had an amazing vintage book collection that we used for styling. When things were quiet, I would endlessly flip through the pages. Those books were my introduction to David Hicks, Slim Aarons, Cecil Beaton, etc who all stuck with me. Also, the music we played was curated, specific, and really good. It genuinely felt like we were inviting people into our home and I found myself mimicking that experience and warmth years later.
Now tell me about your personal style. How is it similar / different?
I’m decisive and believe that confidence in fashion is everything. I like what I like, and dress for myself. I totally disagree with the fashion is frivolous argument. For me, fashion is a creative expression and outlet. I feel it is worthwhile to give thought to how you present yourself to the world. Therefore, I buy things that I love, and tend to keep (and wear) what I have for a very long time. Thinking through different styling combinations is fun. Costume jewelry is something I love and sometimes load up on. I guess my home and personal style are similar!