• Sarah Mervis

Century Old Abode

If these walls could talk...

For the past two months, I've immersed myself into the decades of stories this Spanish Bungalow holds. The creaking floorboards, scalloped arched doorways, original ceiling beams, 100 year old doorknobs... They definitely don't make houses like this gem anymore. Since the beginning of February, my husband and I have been unpacking boxes and attempting to settle into this charming abode. We quickly found ourselves smitten with every detail; obsessed with its historical romanticism, claiming it as the perfect home to begin our marriage!

Diving head first into decorating our space, my favorite part about this Spanish Bungalow was finding a way to combine the old with the new. While identifying the bones of this house, we caught a tiny glimpse of what life was like 100 years ago; the built-in ironing board next to the kitchen sink and the garage that wouldn't fit any vehicle gave us an opportunity to get creative with functional storage solutions!

With an empty palette, the first element I started with was design neutrality. When creating a space for both women and men, the ability to balance feminine pieces with masculine touches is a fundamental skill to have. In our dining room, the table is a solid reclaimed wood piece that acts as the focal point of the room. The bookshelf, with its metal and wood components, is balanced by the softer, more delicate chandelier. A rug will bring together any room; so here I chose one in a neutral color, with fringe (feminine) and hard lines (masculine).

Now if only I could adequately describe the challenge my husband and I had while trying to agree on dining chair styles! After weeks of texting dozens of chair pictures to him on shift at the firehouse, we finally decided on two styles. The end result? Host chairs in a masculine style shape with a softer, feminine color and four guest chairs in a trendy, feminine style with masculine earthy materials. Achieving design neutrality is all about compromise and keeping that balance!

Lastly, there is one element I always incorporate into any design: greenery. Do the plants have to be real? Absolutely not. I have a mixture of both in this bungalow and if you knew my lack of expertise in keeping plants alive, you'd understand why I have no shame when it comes to bringing fake plants into our home! If you have a green thumb, by all means fill those empty corners and shelves with living, breathing greenery. But if you're anything like me and you tend to drown cacti, then you might want to consider some low maintenance foliage. Either way, there is nothing that solidifies a room's design more than plants do. Nature has this incredible ability to make us pause, breathe, and release tension. Why wouldn't we want to incorporate that into our homes?

In addition to my previous love affair with historic houses, spending my days in this abode has truly instilled in me a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship of older homes. For years my perception of the design industry and modern housing market rudely interrupted my passion for designing interiors. I perceived the field as materialistic, basing design purely on image and status. It wasn't until I found the artistic side of design and architecture, that the pieces to my passion finally started fitting together. To create a vision on paper and turn it into a reality, is hands down one of the greatest forms of creative expression and individuality.

Stay tuned for updates on the rest of our home, as we take on this old charmer and fill it with new style!