April 15, 2024

Building Architectural Universes

Designing Spaces, Inspiring Lives

Creating A Vintage Look In A New Home

4 min read

Kay Stanley and Curt Seymour referenced history in this brand-new built Daufuskie Island house that looks as if it has endured centuries of salty air and sandy feet.

Start with a Smart Plan

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

Kay and Curt built history into their home with a plan that looks as if it has been added onto over time. Throughout the interior, the couple chose inconsistent window styles and varying board widths (on floors and walls) to create a haphazard effect, furthering the idea that the plan was not completed at once. Enclosed porches represent renovations the structure would have endured over time. “When someone enters our home and says, ‘This house is in great shape for its age,’ we’ll know we hit the mark,” says Kay.

A 78-inch-long porch swing stands in as a sofa on the back screened porch, which is Kay’s favorite spot to relax and design new fabrics.

Maximize the Impact of Wood

Photo: Lucas Allen

“There is not one single sheet of drywall in the entire house,” says Kay. “Every wall and ceiling is wood plank.” To achieve a nostalgic feel, Kay and Curt held off on the gypsum wallboard and opted for natural wood, leaving the beams exposed whenever possible. “Wood brings warmth and character that simply can’t be matched by any other material,” says Kay. Whether it’s board-and-batten, beaded board, or single planks, wood guarantees instant impact, even if the budget only allows placing it on a single wall or ceiling.

The foyer’s oil-rubbed electrified kerosene lanterns were originally attached to the sides of wagons that were headed west during the gold rush.

Salvage Materials

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

Throughout the home, heart-pine flooring obtained from a South Carolina textile mill recalls history. “It has the original nail holes,” says Kay. “If you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.” Salvaged beam work and reclaimed interior doors also pack a big punch and add character.

Wood-clad walls, ceilings, and floors give the house a sense of historic charm. Hanging lights by Georgia artist Eloise Pickard.

Opt for Muted Hues

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

Earthy tones inspired by the island setting offer a timeless look. “The colors in this house are all meant to blend in, not overshadow,” Kay says. Thinned paint coats walls, ceilings, and cabinetry to create the patina of weathered wood. The subtle, delicate process is barely noticeable from a distance but adds a layer of interest for the discerning eye. “If the paint had been solid, it would have looked too new and stark,” she says.

Just above the kitchen’s apron-front sink, a dark-stained window repeats the floor’s warm hue. “We took a photo of the original windows at our family cabin in Minnesota and copied the look,” says Kay.

Choose Authentic Lighting

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

Composed of electrified gas lanterns, rewired and repurposed antiques, and vintage reproductions, the home’s lighting maintains an authentic period look. Kay and Carolyn called upon Adairsville, Georgia, lighting guru Eloise Pickard to create custom lighting throughout much of the home. “Each of Eloise’s fixtures is absolutely a highlight,” says Kay. To complement the look, Kay selected handcrafted reproduction fixtures, which appear every bit as genuine as their original counterparts.

An interior casement window connects the breakfast nook to the adjacent kitchen. Built-in seating and a custom light fixture made from an old lampshade evoke cottage charm.

Keep it Casual

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

“As with the home’s exterior, I wanted the interior to seem as if it has been collected and pulled together over time,” says Kay. The couple brought antiques east from Kansas City and combined them with painted pieces, flea market finds, and antique reproductions for a casual beach look. “Carolyn got what I was trying to do with the old, beat-up kind of thing,” says Kay. “We scoured Savannah antiques stores for one-of-a-kind finds and piecemealed the rooms together.”

In the primary bedroom, this burlap pendant light suspended by a rope pulley system makes an eye-catching focal point.

Don’t Overlook Details

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

“We tried to re-create exactly how the house would have been built in every way,” says Kay. “I wanted everything as vintage as possible.” Glass doorknobs add charm to the baths. Most light fixtures in the house operate with a push button, and some function with an old-fashioned pull-down chain. In the kitchen, Kay concealed a Sub-Zero refrigerator with an intricately crafted stained oak panel complete with vintage icebox hardware. “It’s absolutely the coolest thing in the house,” she says.

The kitchen ceiling soars to 20 feet, allowing the lofty bank of clerestory windows to radiate daylight.

See more in Creating a New Old House: Yesterday’s Character for Today’s Home by Russell Versaci; amazon.com.


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