Fireplace shot- All white -- Winston's removal of sheet-rocked walls in the living and dining rooms revealed a double, brick-surrounded fireplace with a triangular shape. She painted it the same white as the walls, creating a neutral backdrop for her furnishings and art. The coral, displayed on the mantle was inherited from her grandmother. Homeowner shot- Sole proprietor -- "Shoes I love, but challenges are my thing," says Winston, who owns Shoefty, a designer shoe boutique. Five years ago, she took on the challenge of renewing a 19th century cottage obscured beneath years of poor design choices. Today, it's been imbued with her uninhibited, self-confident style. Kitchen- (toward refrigerator) Under cover -- Winston removed an 8-foot ceiling in the kitchen and found a cathedral ceiling with cross beams. The beams and several pieces of furniture she already owned set the tone for the redesigned space, which features beaded-board cabinetry, concrete counters, an antique stove that came with the kitchen and stainless appliances. The cow and rooster paintings are by local artist Campbell Hutchinson; Amish wooden star, terra cotta pots in the window and moss pot on the counter, from Marsh Garden Dcor; pendant light fixtures, from Lighting Inc.; Italian leather chairs and vintage champagne glasses, from u dwell; bromeliads and orchid from Mitch's Flowers. Architectural elements not found in the house, but needed to maintain its integrity while giving it an updated feel, were hunted down through salvage businesses and used in innovative ways. The pair of distressed doors on the wall above the beams was found at Carrolton Lumber and used as-is to provide access to attic storage. Kitchen- (toward loft) Gathering place -- In the seating area of the kitchen, Winston mixed a rustic table that had belonged to her father with minimal Italian leather chairs, and pieces reminiscent of 1940s Hollywood an ultra suede banquette and a gold and pink cigar table. Bromeliads from Mitch's Flowers, and series of paintings -- green and copper on brick -- above the mantle are by Max Ryan, available at u dwell. Living Room Liquid refreshment -- Mid-century modern furnishings with shots of hot pink dominate in the living room. The water theme of the art (colorful canvases by Rusty Culotta and photographs by Greg Crum) was an unintentional bit of synchronicity. The shape and gloss of the flat-screen TV echo the photographs above, which depict the Chateau Marmont in Hollwood and the sea. Moss-colored sectional sofa, from Villa Vici. Chrome and marble Arco Floor Lamp, glass table lamp, pink velvet chair, tufted leather Mies bench, paisley and faux fur pillows, all from u dwell. Painting of angel wings (below cow skull) by Saskia, available at Soren Christensen gallery. The horn chair upholstered with cowhide was a gift from her friend and former employer Jonn Spradlin.
Dining Room- Continental dining -- To keep the decor from having an overly serious tone, Winston contrasted the dining room's European and Swedish pieces with sleek contemporary designs and an interpretive contemporary portrait by her friend, artist Michael Mott. The Swedish clock and the French table are from Tara Shaw Antiques, the 18th century Italian architectural piece, originally part of a ship, is from u dwell, as are the stemware, glass candleholders, and dishes. Black chairs by Philippe Stark, from Villa Vici. Dining Room (toward mirrors) Something to reflect on -- Framed mirrors, hung above an antique architectural find, visually expand the dining area by reflecting views and light. Hat rack- Horns of plenty -- The coat rack in Winston's foyer used to be in the foyer of her mother's home. "I have a weakness for anything quirky," says Winston. Foyer with dogs- Dog days -- Winston's dog, Cabo (right), and her best friend's dog, Trouble, beneath the arch that separates the entrance foyer from the living and dining rooms. The chandelier, from Villa Vici, was Winston's first purchase for the house. The tables are from u dwell, the candlesticks belonged to Winston's grandmother, and the painting with Venus of Willendorf figurines, is by artist Mike Guidry, whom Winston met when he was working on her house. The sea green of the outside shutters, serves as accent color for both the interior and the exterior of the house. Deck Shot- Side story -- Winston added a wooden deck with chaise lounges along one side of the house, where she and friends like to barbecue. The brownish-gray and bright, sea green of the exterior were inspired by another house Uptown but turned out to be much brighter. Leap Of Faith When Sarah Winston renovated a dated Uptown cottage, she uncovered architectural details in sync with her own self-confident, unstudied style. By Lee Cutrone
Styling by Kandace Power Graves and Mary Satterlee Photos by Cheryl Gerber Some prospective buyers mull over the merits of a house for weeks on end. Others have a visceral fight or flight response that kicks in within moments -- no mulling required. Homeowner Sarah Winston belongs to the latter group. Her Victorian shotgun was in such a state of disrepair the day she viewed it that she didn't even venture past the first two rooms. But she didn't walk away either.
Despite the fact that she was not looking to renovate, she was so intrigued by the late 19th century cottage's architectural peculiarities, she decided to do whatever was necessary to transform its less appealing features and make what was then a dated house into a comfortable home bearing the stamp of her unique style. "I had to meet my agent one day to get a copy of a disclosure for another house and she was showing this one," says Winston. "She said 'you're not going to want it; it needs a lot of work.' I walked in and saw the architecture, the natural light and the corner lot and I fell in love. Everything else I figured I could deal with."
Winston's gut reaction was spot-on. Hidden behind sheet-rocked walls and drop-down ceilings were architectural details, like brick mantles and a beamed cathedral ceiling, which were far more in sync with her independent taste -- a mix of rustic, shabby chic and urbane, mid-century modern. Since Winston bought the house, other hidden details have come to light as well. It's rumored to have once been home to renowned writer Truman Capote -- himself, an arbiter of style.
For the most part, the renovated house retains its original L-shaped footprint (a small addition at the rear of the house had been made by a previous owner), though Winston did alter the floor plan to better suit her needs. In addition to wanting a spacious kitchen with an island, where family and friends could gather, she wanted a larger master bedroom and bath, and a closet to house the ever-expanding wardrobe and shoe collection that go hand-in-hand with her role as owner of Shoefty, a designer shoe boutique with several locations. "Shoes I love," says Winston. "But challenges are my thing. I do best when people say I can't."
Demolition of the house's chopped up interior began as unexpectedly as the purchase of the property itself. After closing on the house in late 2001, Winston hosted a holiday party for her friends, who spontaneously decided to rip down the unsightly wallpaper that, along with shag carpeting and mirrored walls as far as the eye could see, camouflaged the cottage's history and grace.
Eventually, Winston removed nearly every interior wall before reconstructing the space to have a more open flow. At the front of the house, she eliminated a wall dividing the dining and living rooms, merging them into one large space joined by the triangular jetty of a double, brick-surrounded fireplace (shown on the cover). In the kitchen, just beyond the living and dining rooms, she removed an 8-foot, dropped ceiling, which likewise revealed something more desirable -- an airy, cathedral ceiling with wooden beams that give the room a homey, farmhouse feel.
The beams, along with several pieces of furniture that Winston already owned, including a round wooden table and a painted, double-door cabinet from Charbonnet & Charbonnet, set the tone for the built-in cabinetry made of painted bead-board and topped with counters of sealed concrete. Stainless steel appliances and plumbing fixtures were married with the cool gray of the concrete for aesthetics and modern convenience, and a loft -- intended for sleeping but used for storage -- was carved out of attic space at the rear of the kitchen, near the master suite.
A hall and small master bedroom, located at the back of the house, were converted into a closet and a roomy, master bath, while a second bedroom was enlarged as the master bedroom.
Winston painted most of the interior with a palette of neutrals: the living and dining rooms are a warm white, the kitchen an oyster gray and the bedroom a deeper gray, the color of a black, South Sea pearl. Against the quiet background colors of the walls and ceilings, she brought in colorful furnishings and art, mixing them with an eye attuned to clean lines, but never making the mistake of taking herself too seriously.
"I have a weakness for anything that's quirky, no matter what the time period," says Winston. "If I had to pick a period, I love Swedish antiques. But I find pieces that have a lot of character, that are off-kilter. I'm told I get it from my maternal grandmother, who also had the most ridiculous shoe closet."
The look is one that's completely of the moment -- a mix of antiques, 20th century and new pieces -- but also exclusive to Winston, who's never shy about putting her own spin on things.
"Nothing is planned," she says of her approach to both clothing and decorating. "I've always said 'If you wear something with confidence and you own it, you look fabulous. That's how I feel about my house. It definitely exudes my personality."
"Sarah's style is uninhibited and unconventional," says Mary Satterlee, owner of u dwell, one of Winston's favorite Magazine Street home furnishings stores, and one of two stylists who pulled together Winston's house for Gambit Weekly's photo shoot. "Her choices of furniture and accessories illustrate her free-thinking approach to life. Her independence and self-confidence ring through her house."
Each room illustrates the point in its own way. While fine antiques are the dominant feature of the dining room, the overall effect is anything but traditional and staid. The rustic French dining table, Swedish grandfather clock and painted architectural piece, which Satterlee and Winston intend to top with Lucite and use as a console, are lightened by the addition of black Philippe Stark chairs, a layering of sea grass and cowhide rugs, and a colorful, pop art-influenced portrait by Winston's best friend, artist Michael Mott.
The dining room's vivid art and black chairs also act as a connective element between the dining room and the adjoining living room, anchored by reproductions of classic mid-century modern pieces rather than continental antiques. The kitchen, too, is a study in contrasts -- its weathered, rustic cabinetry and furnishings paired with contemporary lighting, sleek leather chairs, a 1940s-style ultra-suede banquette and a pink and gold cigar table.
"I don't like things to match," says Winston, who'd rather emphasize unusual finds combined with art and comfort. "And I don't want the furniture to feel stiff. When I'm home, I want to be comfortable."