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Fun and Fearless Personality in a Century-Old Jacksonville Home

by Sofia Tuovinen

Fun and Fearless Personality in a Century-Old Jacksonville Home | Design*Sponge
Virginia Chamlee and Tom Canfield toured at least a dozen homes in Jacksonville, FL before stumbling on the listing that would eventually become #projectbelvedere. The 1920s house offered everything that Virginia, a writer, and Tom, who works in the banking industry, had been looking for — a lovely neighborhood, plenty of historical accents and charm, a comfortable living space and the large kitchen that Virginia had always dreamed of. “Plus, I wanted something that could be a project — which it definitely was,” Virginia adds.

Turning their historic house into the right home for them didn’t come without hiccups. Shortly after buying the house, the couple decided to undertake a big kitchen renovation. Midway through, they discovered extensive water damage in the walls of another part of the house. The walls had to be taken apart and reconstructed entirely — “it was a worst case scenario kind of thing,” Virginia says. Just about a week after the damage had been fixed, Hurricane Irma hit Jacksonville. Even though Virginia and Tom were smack in the middle of their renovation and had no floors, they decided to seek refuge in their new home, since it was located further inland than the apartment they still lived in. “We lost power for over a week, and had some leaks, but fortunately didn’t see too much damage from the storm. Weathering a storm like that helped cement the fact that this house was our refuge (quite literally, in this case) and made me fall more in love with it. It’s nearly 100 years old, so it’s been through a lot. That makes it even more magical a place,” Virginia shares.

As the editor of Jacksonville Magazine, Virginia feels very connected to her city and is devoted to capturing its pulse. Experiencing a natural disaster like Irma really proved that something good can come out of even the most disastrous events. “The community really banded together after Irma struck— once the water receded, local businesses opened their doors so people could charge their phones or just grab a cup of coffee. We were new to the neighborhood and still felt very connected,” she explains.

After weathering the storm, both literally and figuratively speaking, Virginia and Tom have had more time to focus on making their home a place that they can feel enriched and inspired by. For Virginia especially, this has meant creating bold and vibrant spaces that are also practical and meet the couple’s everyday needs. “There are so many rules when it comes to design and I don’t listen to any of them. I like my house to wear what makes it feel good — stripes with flowers, high with low — whatever. Anything goes,” Virginia says. Mixing patterns with abandon, covering every square inch of a wall with art and painting the floors are all fun design choices that have made Virginia feel braver and bolder in her personal style choices. The key is not to overthink anything and just go with what makes you feel good. With this in mind, Virginia and Tom now share a home that makes them feel inspired as soon as they walk through the door. Another important factor was offering their beloved lab-mix Chloe a house to roam in after a decade of apartment-living. “When I walk in, I’m greeted by great art, fun furniture, dog kisses from Chloe, and I can see the striped kitchen floors, which make me really happy,” Virginia shares. At the end of the day, what else could you possibly wish for? —Sofia 

Photography by Residential Photography Solutions

Image above: The entry and formal living room is a perfect taster of Virginia and Tom’s bold and colorful style. When renovating their home, the couple ripped out a plain mantel that wasn’t original to the house and replaced it with a chunky piece of barnwood found along the Eastern seaboard. 

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Virginia found the two 1970s lithographs by artist Nancy Denison at an antique store. To make them pop, she chose Cole and Son Orchid wallpaper as the background. The chandelier is vintage, a piece that Virginia bought when she was 18. “I swore to put it in my future home. It sat in storage until we moved in,” she shares.

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The uniquely shaped sofa was a Craigslist find and was designed by Vladimir Kagan. “The windows in this room are one of my favorite pieces of the house,” Virginia adds.

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All the art on the mantel is vintage, and the piece on the right is actually displayed sideways. “Sometimes I like to display art in different ways than it was intended.” Virginia says. “The little stool in front of the fireplace is vintage John Dickinson and typically retails for upwards of $1,000. I got this one for $5 at a thrift store and repainted it to be matte white,” she adds. 

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The dining room design revolves around the two-tone walls and dark ceiling, which create a glamorously dramatic effect.

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“I am fortunate to have easy access to furniture. My grandmother, who raised me from the time I was a month old and is my best friend, owns a store called Cottage by the Sea. This console is from her store and is the perfect height for the mid-century, original painting above,” Virginia shares.

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The green kitchen with its black and white striped floors is a true showstopper. “My uncle helped tremendously with this project. We ripped out the drop-down ceiling, and he constructed a new one and installed can lights,” Virginia says. “Then, we ripped out the cabinets, painted them (white on top, green on the bottom) and added new hardware and re-installed them.”

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Virginia wasn’t a fan of the tile floors that were in the kitchen but didn’t want to have them removed. Instead, she laid down some tape and painted stripes using concrete paint.

There are so many rules when it comes to design and I don’t listen to any of them.

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Tom and Virginia in their kitchen. “I love to cook, so it was really important to me that the kitchen be conducive to entertaining, and have enough space to chop and assemble a multitude of dishes at once. Hosting Thanksgiving here was really fun this year,” Virginia shares.

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Virginia thrifted the pink velvet bar stools before she even had a place to put them. They are vintage Milo Baughman and cost a whopping $35.

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“Tom and I fell in love with artist Brian Calvin‘s work when we went to Art Basel a few years ago. Most of the art in the house is vintage, but this piece was too good to pass up and it plays off the colors of the chairs,” Virginia says.

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The living room is where Virginia, Tom and Chloe the lab-mix spend most of their time, curled up on the graciously sized Cloud sofa from Restoration Hardware. Thrifted art fills the white walls, creating a fun and vibrant statement in the space.

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“The art changes in this corner all the time, though I refuse to give up the piece on the upper right (it’s from the World’s Fair in 1982 and I paid $5 for it). When we got the couch we swore we’d never let Chloe on it —naturally, she’s spent more time on it than either of us.”

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Various shades of pink create a deliciously soft and inviting feel in the main bedroom. Virginia found the vintage Henredon canopy bed on Craigslist at a thrift store in Georgia, and rented a Uhaul to bring it home.

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“I spend so little on furniture and art, but I think bedding and linens are a worthy investment,” Virginia says. The burl wood side tables are from an estate sale, the hand-painted and signed lamps were a $5 find at Goodwill. 

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I’ve lugged this enormous plaster deer head with me to three different apartments. It is [really] heavy and absolutely gorgeous,” Virginia says. 

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Virginia has a side business flipping vintage pieces on Chairish, and needed her home to function as a showroom of sorts. “I wanted to be able to use some of the items that I find, so that they could give me joy before they move on to their eventual owner,” Virginia explains. “The office is a great example of that. It houses an ever-evolving gallery wall — I sell a piece and I always have three more to take its place.”

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The guest bedroom is painted in grey lime wash from Portola Paints.

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The guest bedroom nightstand is Virginia’s best vintage find to date. “I was at an antique store with my grandmother about six years ago and the elderly woman who owned the shop said ‘be sure to check out the room out back before you leave.’ […] I screamed when I rounded the corner and saw this amazing vintage trunk and screamed even harder when I read the price tag (‘old trunk, $90’). The shop had no idea what they had — so naturally, I shoved that baby in my trunk faster than you can say ‘Goyard,’ paid, and was on my way.”

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Virginia and Tom found the vintage map at an antiques fair several years ago. It illustrates Maracaibo, Venezuela, where Tom was born. 

SOURCE LIST

Entryway
Entryway wallpaper – Cole and Son
Mantel – G&H Reclaims

Living Room
Couch – Restoration Hardware Cloud Couch
Art is all vintage and can be found on Chairish

Dining Room
Paint – Hyde Park by Portola Paint
Dining room table – Restoration Hardware
Console table – Cottage by the Sea

Kitchen
Cabinets – painted in Black Forest Green, Benjamin Moore
Floors – painted in Valspar concrete paint

Main Bedroom
Paint – Angel’s Landing by Portola Paints
Bedding – Pine Cone Hill
Rug – Overstock

Bedrooms
Paint – Lime Wash in Boulder by Portola Paints
Linens – Pom Pom at Home

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