Historic homes can come full of surprises and may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but when Charlotte and Mark Smith had the opportunity to buy a 1854 Federal-style home in Southport, CT, there wasn’t really much to debate. It had been on the market for four years and stood empty when the couple came to see it for the first time. Like many other historic houses in the area, it had been slowly neglected and was crying out for some tender loving care. All it took was for Charlotte to see the beautiful sunny windows and wide wood floors to fall endlessly in love. Two and a half years later, Charlotte and Mark have no regrets. The old house has become the perfect place to raise their five children, Eleanor, Oliver, Martha, Louisa and Arthur, and a wonderful project for Charlotte, who loves bringing her family’s house to life with small updates and creative ideas.
When Charlotte and Mark, a financial analyst, first moved to Southport from New York City, Charlotte left behind her career as a guidance counselor. To accompany some of her time as a new stay-at-home-mom, she started blogging about her style and unique design ideas. She writes about fixing her family’s old house and shares ways to add flea market finds and vintage decor into the mix. For Charlotte, who is now a full-time blogger, mom, and television personality, breathing new life into her family’s home is key — it means bringing in lots of pattern and color, while always respecting the bones of the historic house and staying true to its style. She wants to ensure that the innate charm is maintained, which in turn has made decorating both a fun and challenging process. There’s nothing standard about old homes!
Charlotte’s main goal is to create spaces that are colorful, fun and reflective of her young and energetic family. Without the budget for big renovations, she has focused on refreshing her home with vintage pieces, repurposed furniture, DIY solutions, and clever design. Usually, Charlotte starts out with one main idea and begins building a room’s decor from that. Her inspiration can be anything she sets her heart on, from a rug or a pillow to some fantastic wallpaper. The next step is scouring for thrifted treasures that could work with her chosen color scheme. After that, it’s all about mixing and matching for a perfectly layered look. She is also conscious of creating spaces that stand the test of five kids and the family’s golden retriever, Frank. This means opting for sturdy pieces, having fun with the design and keeping things playful. From soft and inviting textures in the family’s living room to speckled green wallpaper in the playroom — not to mention each kid’s room, more colorful and uplifting than the next — you can instantly tell that this home has been thoughtfully designed with each family member in mind. Whether it’s tying string all over a room to make an intricate pull system, or setting up a fish shop on the back porch, the family’s house offers the kids every opportunity to play, imagine and create. For this and so much more, Charlotte and Mark are inordinately thankful. —Sofia
Image above: The living room had three different layouts until the current one came together. With beautiful old windows facing in two directions, it’s endlessly bright and welcoming. The light blue velvet couch was Charlotte’s present to herself when they first moved to Southport, and still works perfectly wherever it lands.
Editor’s Note: To assist our readers on sourcing requests, we’ve rounded up similar style pieces in our new Home Style Preview below. Click on the product image for the details and shopping info! You can also bookmark the quick look version in our Shopping section here.